From Sudden Death to Sudden Glory: Remembering David Wilkerson

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news of Pastor David Wilkerson’s passing shocked me. I was
immediately struck with sadness when I read the headline, “Pastor
David Wilkerson Dies in Car Crash.” While we know that his
devotion to Jesus Christ and mankind has surely ushered him from this
life into heavenly glory, I could sense the great loss that many felt
due to losing a faithful servant of the gospel.

worldwide, posted status updates on Facebook that showed their
admiration of Wilkerson and gave countless testimonies of how his
ministry had played a role in their life. Numerous YouTube videos of
some of his most popular messages, such as, “A Call to Anguish,”
“The Second Coming,” “On Hell,” among many
others, were being uploaded to social networking sites.

is said that after Wilkerson read a story in Life Magazine,
in 1958, about a boy who was murdered by teenage gang members in New
York City, he felt led by the Holy Spirit to go there and reach gang
members with compassion and the gospel.

faithfulness to his ministry led to many advances, such as “Teen
Challenge” (an evangelical drug rehabilitation program) and
“World Challenge” (an international ministry that helps
addicts worldwide), as well as the launching and pastoring of Times
Square Church in New York City.

“The Cross and the Switchblade” became a best-seller, with
over 50 million copies in over 30 languages, and is included in
Christianity Today‘s “Top 50 Books That Have Shaped
Evangelicals.” Wilkerson also started “Please Pass the
Bread,” a global effort to feed starving children worldwide.

“Today, Please
Pass the Bread is saving the lives of thousands of children, through
56 outreaches in eight countries,” said Pastor Wilkerson’s son,
Gary Wilkerson, in an article he wrote for the World Challenge
website, titled “Remembering David Wilkerson.”

his life’s work, Wilkerson has not only helped thousands upon
thousands of people come clean from drug addiction, but he also lead
them to Christ through the love he bestowed upon them.

Sonny Arguinzoni, a former drug addict and gang member, who was
approached by Wilkerson in the height of his addiction, was offered
the opportunity to go home with him so that Wilkerson could help him
kick the habit. Not many people would offer a stranger the
opportunity to stay in their home, let alone a drug-addicted gang

Victory Outreach, a worldwide ministry Arguinzoni later founded, my
father, Jimmy Pinto, was witnessed to. Upon accepting Jesus into his
heart, he was then placed into their drug rehabilitation program,
where his life was totally transformed from once being a hardcore
drug addict to helping others find freedom from sin and addiction in

father then went on to run a drug rehabilitation program that helped
many come off drugs, and later he became an evangelist that traveled
throughout the United States, also offering hope and help to others.

his ministry, which was a constant reminder of what the Lord has done
for us, my brother and I became born again Christians. Today, my
brother, James Pinto, is also a pastor and is dedicated to
proclaiming the gospel and has a heart of compassion for those bound
to sin.

you see how the dedication of one man could impact so many others?
The trickling effect from Wilkerson spread to another, which then
reached another and another …

family is just one story, but through Pastor Wilkerson’s commitment
to lead people to Christ, he has impacted so many lives and numerous

ministry not only changed the life of gang members and those bound to
addiction, but he touched the hearts of those who felt they had it
all together and weren’t in need of a savior. He proclaimed that the
sacrifice Jesus made on Calvary wasn’t only for the destitute and
outcasts of society, but it was for everyone. With truth and
boldness, he let others know that no one is exempt from sin; without
Jesus, we are all damned to Hell.

also challenged Christians to continue in their faith, to remain in
prayer and church attendance, to stay far away from sin and to keep
their eyes focused on Jesus. Through his teachings, one can surely
say that Wilkerson was not a man of compromise.

accepted the truth of the gospel with his whole heart, he also
preached it with his whole heart, despite the fact that some may have
ridiculed him for what seemed like strict discipline when it really
was an awakening for the church, as a whole, to please God entirely.

the morning of the fatal accident that claimed Wilkerson’s life, he
wrote in his blog, “Beloved, God has never failed to act but in
goodness and love. When all means fail—His love prevails. Hold fast
to your faith. Stand fast in His Word. There is no other hope in this

last sentence reminded me of why Wilkerson originally went to New
York City—to bring a message of hope that would help people and let
them know that without Jesus there is no hope.

you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your heart, may you come to
know the power of His saving grace that tells you to “come as
you are…” As Reverend Billy Graham once said, “Come as
you are and be changed. Don’t worry about changing yourself first; in
fact, you can’t change yourself. You are unable to save yourself.”

is why we need Jesus Christ as our Savior. When we accept Him into
our hearts by confessing that He died for our sins and asking for
forgiveness because we are in need of a Savior, it is God who begins
to do the work. It is Him who changes us in areas we may or may not
have realized we needed to be changed.

we remember the life that Pastor Wilkerson lived, let us not forget
to continue to spread the gospel and extend a hand to the hurting, to
those in need of hope.

Pinto is the former managing editor and writer for a New York
newspaper, as well as a monthly columnist for ChristianNewsToday.com.

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