Guest / Limited Access /

David was up late as usual at midnight watching the "Late Show" when he first asked the question: "What would happen, Lord, if I sold the TV set and spent that time—praying?" After David Wilkerson prayed that prayer in 1958, the world would soon find out.

"What would happen, Lord, if I … ?"

After his television was actually sold, Wilkerson began to devote his midnight to 2 a.m. hours to prayer. One night while trying to pray, he found himself unusually drawn to an issue of Life magazine sitting on his desk. At first he suspected his interest in reading to be merely a human diversion pulling him away from the discipline of prayer. Nonetheless he couldn't get away from it and finally asked, "God is there something you want me to see?"

Caught by the eyes

The trailblazing pastor-turned-street-evangelist and founder of Teen Challenge died tragically on Wednesday, April 27, at age 79 in a car accident in Texas. He leaves his wife, Gwen, who survived the accident, and several family members, but he also leaves a church in Times Square and a drug recovery ministry (Teen Challenge) that has resulted in lives changed around the world. His story was first told in the bestselling 1963 book The Cross and the Switchblade.

What Wilkerson saw in that issue of Life was destined to change his own life and that of so many others. He read the report of a gang on trial in New York. He recalls the story:

… my attention was caught by the eyes of one of the figures in the drawing. A boy. One of seven boys on trial for murder. The artist had caught such a look of bewilderment and hatred and despair in his features that I opened the magazine wide again to get a closer look. And as I did, I began to cry.
"What's the matter with me!" ...
Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueWho Awaits the Messiah Most? Muslims
Subscriber Access Only
Who Awaits the Messiah Most? Muslims
Islam and Christianity share Second Coming hopes. Can this be a bridge?
Current IssueWhen God Fights Idolatry with Unconventional Weapons
Subscriber Access Only When God Fights Idolatry with Unconventional Weapons
A better way to read the bizarre story of Elisha and the bears.
RecommendedI Went From Fighting in a Cage to Living in a Hut
I Went From Fighting in a Cage to Living in a Hut
How an MMA fighter found Jesus—and discovered his calling in the Congo.
TrendingThe Story Behind Trump’s Controversial Prayer Partner
The Story Behind Trump’s Controversial Prayer Partner
What Paula White’s Washington moment implies for the prosperity gospel’s future.
Editor's PickWhy Our Body Destroys Itself
Why Our Body Destroys Itself
The science and spirituality behind the latest Nobel Prize in medicine.
Christianity Today
Remembering David Wilkerson
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

April 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.