A Man of God who has influenced my life is David Wilkerson (1931-2011).
I remember his graphic descriptions in the book “The Cross and the Switchblade” (1962) that impressed me as a young boy. About violent gangs and drug addicts who were set free from the devil´s chains unto a liberating life in Jesus.
I remember when my mom & dad, big sister and myself visited his ministry in New York when I was 9 years old.
I remember when David Wilkerson in 1971 delivered a shocking message in Filadelfia Oslo during the heyday of the Jesus movement, exposing “the Children of God”, a heretical group that was intertwined with the Jesus people. Wilkerson´s warning divided the Christians of Oslo at the time, but history has proved him right.
I remember the book “Visions” that described a series of sobering visions from 1973 when the Lord showed Wilkerson the alarming development of USA in the future.
I also recall with special joy and gratitude a series of visits I paid in David Wilkerson´s Times Square Church from 1992 until 2002. A church that united the down and outers with the high and mighty. From all tongues and peoples. Under the same roof. Under the same preaching.
My friend Finn Jarle Sæle (a prominent Christian newspaper editor in Norway) was with me there several times during our travels together. I was able to introduce him to David Wikerson, but Finn Jarle had to promise that he would´t come as a journalist when we took part in Wilkerson´s internal prayer meetings and leadership gatherings. Wilkerson did not wag his tail for the media.
I remember the many gatherings I took part in among the outcasts in New York. Wilkerson prioritized highly a life in prayer, and expected discipline and order from the new converts.
I also remember Wilkerson´s rejection of the Toronto renewal, which I personally have a favorable opinion of. But I deem him right in his assessments that much in this renewal was not from the Lord. It was quite funny in 1996 when Wilkerson set up a powerpoint during his meetings with a loud and clear statement: “No falling and shaking in the sanctuary!” Wilkerson warned against infatuation.
I also remember that David Wilkerson did not believe in the modern “Christian Unity movement”. When all my pastor friends in New York in 2002 gathered around “The Call New York”, Wilkerson was noticeably absent. He did not want to waste his time on unity efforts…
I had many conversations with Wilkerson at the Time Square Church offices. A wise man. A radical man. A warmhearted man. And a man of grace.
A couple of times (in 1998 and 2002) I discussed with him the issue (among many other issues) of divorce and remarriage. I will not repeat my oral discussions with him, but rather quote what he wrote himself about the matter in 1977, and this matches what he said to me:
There are occasions where a person could not avoid divorce and remarried in the will of God. But, even then, both partners have to work and pray extra hard to maintain their love and joy. But, they are exceptions to the rule.
Wilkerson has been strongly attacked by those who advocate a “catholic” view on marriage, divorce, and remarriage. But he stood firmly on his faith in the grace and truth, Jesus!
David Wilkerson was a vessel for truth. An apostle and prophet. But he was also a man of grace. A man who believed in restoring people. And who laid down his life for this. For Jesus. For the grace and the truth.