I was born two years after the death of Keith Green. I grew up admiring that man. I listened to his music and eventually read his biography, “No Compromise” written by his wife. After spending much time intrigued by his passion for Jesus, I felt a connection because of our family bond(both being believers). And I would just sit and think how much I wish I could have met the man. But I never really had the shot or capability.
Several years ago I was listening to a sermon by a current hero, Tim Keller, and he referenced a man who was from New York and had been called to ministry out of the gang lifestyle. His name was Tom Skinner. The first message I heard him preach was the Urbana Conference in 1970 on ‘The US Racial Crisis and World Evangelism”. This man was truly a powerful preacher of the word. He died in 1994, well before I heard of him.
I opened my laptop to see a headline from a friend telling of the death of a man whose ministry had an enormous impact on my life. David Wilkerson had written “the Cross and the Switchblade well before I was born. That book had challenged me to want to live my life so different from the mediocre. When I felt called to urban ministry, that was the first book people told me to open. But I didn’t actually read it until several years later and it truly changed my life. His sermons were straight prophetic like very few of this generation. His attitude and viewpoints were humble and his life was entrenched into the word.
When discussing the death of David Wilkerson, many of us were hurt to see a saint go who had paved the way. One friend had said that, “We are losing all of the great ones…”. Another friend told me that now someone has to step up. And, not knowing what to do, I opened the bible to a needed passage for this moment, Joshua 1.
1:1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses…. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Moses had been the John the Baptist for Joshua, one to pave the way. Moses never saw the Promised Land. Part of me wonders if the developments in Urban ministry in the US that were laid out by Pastor Wilkerson will be continued. But I know they will. The question for all of us with the calling to consider is, who will step up? There is still much work to be done in Urban ministry all over the world. With the work of Godly men like Tom Skinner and Tim Keller, Can those of us in this next generation be willing to step in and seek more of a gospel change in our urban centers?
When Jesus looked at the 70+ followers he had just sent out in Luke 10, he said that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. We should pray to the Lord of the harvest to continue sending out workers. And let’s seek change in each of our cities all around the US.
Thank you Lord for the ministry you used David Wilkerson to do in many of our lives. Let us be faithful to you.