The Unexplained and Tragic Death of David Wilkerson

The Reverend David Wilkerson 1931-2011

Renowned Pentecostal  preacher David Wilkerson was killed in an automobile accident in East Texas about 1PM yesterday.  Wilkerson was one of the more influential preachers of his era preaching a message of God’s love, God’s judgment and rigorous personal holiness. Unlike many of his contemporaries who embraced the “word of faith” and “prosperity gospel” message Wilkerson condemned that message without denying the fact that God still does miracles and answers prayers.  Likewise there was never any scandal associated with him or his ministry financial, sexual or otherwise.  He proclaimed many “prophetic” words concerning judgment upon the church and the world as the time of Jesus’ second coming approached. Whether one agreed with his prophecies or interpretation of the Biblical texts concerning the second coming or not one did not question the reality of his faith or his belief in the message that he preached.  In fact one can see even in his more extravagant prophecies a tone similar to that of the Old Testament prophets especially Jeremiah.

The heart of Wilkerson’s outreach was to people that much of the church had ignored or condemned, gang members, criminals, drug abusers and other young people who lived on the margins of society. One cannot deny his impact on those that he ministered to as well as those that he influenced.  Many young people who became Christians in the 1960s and 1970s, especially those that were considered “hippies” found his message attractive and many have talked of his influence in their lives and ministries.  In fact back in 1975 I remember reading his famous book The Cross and the Switchblade and actually being inspired by it.

When I heard that Reverend Wilkerson had died in a car crash I looked up the articles on the news and was surprised to see that he evidently swerved into an oncoming logging truck and was not wearing a seat belt.  I really found this strange.  Of course there are a number of reasons that this could have transpired he could have become distracted while driving, tried to avoid a small animal in the road, been startled by something or even experienced a sudden medical problem that caused him to lose control of the car.  Looking at the pictures on a local Texas television station of the car which is unrecognizable as to its make and model it is no wonder that he did not survive the crash. His wife was probably saved by her seat belt, she is recovering in hospital and I join with their family, friends, co-workers and those that he ministered to for her complete recovery.

As I searched for information on the crash I came across an article that included his last daily blog post which was posted in the hours before his death. As I read it I sensed a man struggling with faith and God a man who seems to have been enduring his own “Dark Night of the Soul.”  The article was entitled When All Means Fail http://davidwilkersontoday.blogspot.com/2011/04/when-all-means-fail.html and it is thought provoking especially when read in the light of the circumstances of his death. I repost it here because it appears to me to show a man struggling with burdens that are overwhelming. Please know as someone who has struggled greatly with faith that I seek in no way to cast any dispersion upon the life, ministry, character or godliness of David Wilkerson.  I do not know what he was facing but it was something incredibly painful that caused him in this post and many of his recent posts on his blog site and ministry web site to wrestle with God.  As a minster I know that many things that we write or preach about deal with the things that we are dealing with ourselves. Sometimes it seems that we are preaching as much to ourselves as to the people that God has entrusted to us.  Of course we are not alone even Paul the Apostle demonstrated such a struggle in the Letter to the Romans.

Wilkerson posted:

“To believe when all means fail is exceedingly pleasing to God and is most acceptable. Jesus said to Thomas, “You have believed because you have seen, but blessed are those that do believe and have not seen” (John 20:29).

Blessed are those who believe when there is no evidence of an answer to prayer—who trust beyond hope when all means have failed.

Someone has come to the place of hopelessness—the end of hope—the end of all means. A loved one is facing death and doctors give no hope. Death seems inevitable. Hope is gone. The miracle prayed for is not happening.

That is when Satan’s hordes come to attack your mind with fear, anger, overwhelming questions: “Where is your God now? You prayed until you had no tears left. You fasted. You stood on promises. You trusted.”

Blasphemous thoughts will be injected into your mind: “Prayer failed. Faith failed. Don’t quit on God—just do not trust him anymore. It doesn’t pay!”

Even questioning God’s existence will be injected into your mind. These have been the devices of Satan for centuries. Some of the godliest men and women who ever lived were under such demonic attacks.

To those going through the valley and shadow of death, hear this word: Weeping will last through some dark, awful nights—and in that darkness you will soon hear the Father whisper, “I am with you. I cannot tell you why right now, but one day it will all make sense. You will see it was all part of my plan. It was no accident. It was no failure on your part. Hold fast. Let me embrace you in your hour of pain.”

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 world.”

If this were the only time that he wrote such deep and troubling words and if the circumstances of his death were different I would not have given the article a second thought.  But because of the circumstances I decided to keep reading. I read every blog post dating back to February and the topics of hopelessness, failure and struggle are present in almost every article.  They can be found here: http://davidwilkersontoday.blogspot.com/ and here http://www.worldchallenge.org/view/devotions

As I read these articles I felt the pain of a man who has been a weeping prophet and the mould of Jeremiah.  Jeremiah comes to my mind as his writings show a man that struggled with faith and was probably suffering from profound and deep depression and I get the same sense from Wilkerson’s writings.  Wilkerson’s prophetic words, be they true or not are not the words of a man who is angry and lashing out at the society around him.  They are, even dating back to the 1980s the words of a man who preaches out of a heart of sadness and concern for those people, nations and leaders that he believes are coming under the judgment of God.  I have seen some lash out and condemn Wilkerson as a false prophet because of the nature of his words but I cannot and will not do so even though I disagree with underlying premises of his eschatology.  Wilkerson cannot be compared to those that have made their living simply “studying Bible prophecy” and making money off of it or many of the other supposed modern day “prophets” who seem to believe that all they say is as inspired as the Scriptures themselves.  Wilkerson’s struggles which are so apparent in his writings show a personal humility and introspection lacking in the vast bulk of the self proclaimed prophets and Bible prophecy experts.

His writings of the past few months show a man concerned with not failing God and struggling with physical, spiritual or emotional pain of some kind. While the writings are almost always directed to the encouragement of God’s people there is also the sense that he was preaching to himself as much as anyone else.  I think that and preacher who is honest will admit that this is the case and it is not a mark of failure or lack of faith or character for this to be the case.  Likewise it is not hypocritical.

I don’t know what happened on that East Texas Highway yesterday. I don’t know if something happened to cause David Wilkerson to lose control of his vehicle or if in a moment of despair that he steered his vehicle into the oncoming truck. It doesn’t matter really because he is now with the Lord and he leaves the legacy of many changed lives and of faithfulness even while he struggled with things that we cannot fathom.  Perhaps we will know what happened someday but not today and it really doesn’t matter except if it was the latter and Wilkerson committed “suicide by car” it shows us that no-one, even famous preachers that we place on pedestals is immune from struggle, pain or doubt even while they struggle to believe.

We remember his life and ministry and we pray for his family. We trust his soul to God.

Peace

Padre Steve+

Note: I have closed comments to this article things seem to be getting repetitive.  I may reopen them if the situation warrants me doing so. Thank you to all that contributed even those that disagree with my speculation or even those that said bad things about me!

Peace

Padre Steve+

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48 Comments

Filed under christian life, faith, Religion

48 responses to “The Unexplained and Tragic Death of David Wilkerson

  1. John Erickson

    I will further research his writings, but from your quotes above, Padre, I hear the emptiness I felt when my health crashed and I lost my house, job, and my beloved “son” (a dog, granted, but one I loved as if he was my child since my wife cannot bear children of her own). I hear the sense of hollowness of struggle, of the question as to why go on when all you can see is pain, death, emptiness, and loss. I can’t say why, and don’t know if I’ll be able to even after reviewing his posts, but I would say that Reverend Wilkerson had been hit by some grievous loss (the clue being somewhere in his recent past), and that he failed to find someone to share his grief, which doubled and redoubled until this tragic incident.
    Whatever the cause, my heart, too, goes out to his family and friends, and I trust he has found the peace with God that so painfully evaded him in this world. And thank you, Padre, for bringing the story of this man to light. We can but pray that his story will move someone in a similar situation to seek out help, and avoid another tragedy as this one. Godspeed, my friend.

    • patricia turner

      i will truly miss his teachings He was a great teacher God bless his family and all who knew him and of him

  2. Laura

    Padre Steve,
    Please consider that Rev.Wilkerson has a ministry that stretches far beyond the walls of his church. As events around the world have shaken many, people from all over the country and world have been constantly sending him letters of their own despair and feelings of Godlessness. To be sure, as a servant of God, he himself has experienced much testing of his faith. It comes with the territory. The Lord will test the pureness of our love and devotion to Him. And this imparts a wisdom about how to handle testing, despair and loss that is reflected always in his letters. However, Rev. Wilkerson also, as one close to God, experiences the Lord’s pain at the suffering of his children. This kind of “depression” is far from clinical depression – not born of the body or mind, but of the spirit. It is a loving God’s despair at watching his children turn from Him, try to make the world a good place on their own power, and only hurt themselves more; never understanding their need for Him. I believe that Rev. Wilkerson’s posts and newsletters have reflected this part of the Lord’s heart, and have caused Rev. Wilkerson to cry out in the Lord’s pain, not his own. But I also see something else in this letter. Those who give up themselves to walk closely with the Lord often do see things that the Lord is doing, which we call the “prophetic”. In his last post, I hear Rev. Wilkerson speaking to the children he is leaving behind. Both the children of his body and of the spirit that will carry on his legacy. His son, Gary, has written several of his newsletters in this past year, as if Rev. Wilkerson was preparing his son to step into his shoes one day. Just as Keith Green said an eerie and very final goodbye to his wife Melody before boarding a plane that would take himself and one of their children to their death, I suspected several months ago that Rev. Wilkerson knew something was about to happen, and suspect even more strongly that this letter was meant to comfort and direct those that are struggling to mourn him deeply while still carrying on a worldwide ministry that relied heavily on the direction of a very godly and beloved leader. As one of his spiritual children myself, it feels as if a light has been extinguished that can not be replaced. Yet his words remind me that that he was not the Light, but Jesus. And that the Lord is whom I seek, and is still in control. Therefore, that is where I will turn my face and heart, and I will look forward to standing at the side of Rev. Wilkerson as we worship in the presence of the Lord together some day.

    • padresteve

      Laura
      Thank you for your comments. While I have no doubt that some of the burden that David felt was exactly as you say, taking on the Lord’s pain for what is going on in the world I see more than that. There are numerous references to his own lack of faith, hints at unanswered prayers and health concerns that permeate his articles that gives me reason to think this. It is not uncommon, Martin Luther suffered from this as have others, men of great faith and holiness. I for one cast no dispersion on David because I have seen this in the lives of many saints to include Mother Theresa of Calcutta. Jeremiah is perhaps the best Biblical example but as David wrote in at least one of his posts that King David experienced such times. There are times that great men and women of God take on so much of what they see as the Lord’s pain that it is nearly overwhelming. He will certainly be missed and mourned by many. Keith Green was heavily influenced by David, I remember meeting Keith about 8 months before his death and there seemed to be a certain sadness especially as I looked into his eyes that back then as a 21 year old college student that I couldn’t place. Reverend Wilkerson was an amazing man of God with a real heart for the world and I have no doubt that he is with the Lord.
      Peace and blessings,
      Padre Steve+

  3. Lela Powell

    Bro. David was a role model for young people and others unlike the modern tv preachers that claim prosperity and all the great riches if you plant a
    seed. God never promised us wealth on this earth but a home in heaven when we die if we repent and live for him. His family has and have had many health problems which hurt him but he continued in the Faith of God. I will miss his devotions.

    • padresteve

      Lela
      David was certainly that. I figured that he or his family must have been going through very trying times from what I read on his blogs. Preachers often allude to things that are painful but seldom speak directly about their issues. Reverend Wilkerson did to some degree and he was certainly unlike the preachers that proclaim that promise wealth and prosperity. He will be missed.
      Peace,
      Padre Steve+

  4. Cynda Tanner

    Pastor Wilkerson had a young granddaughter (about 12 years old I think) die a few years ago of a brain tumor. His wife and either one or both daughters had cancer years back but recovered and I understand that recently his one daughter has again been diagnosed with cancer along with one of his grandsons. All this along with the despairing condition of the world, I believe, was enough to sink one’s soul to the very depths of despair and hopelessness.

    • padresteve

      Cynda
      Thanks for sharing that explains a lot of what I read in his blogs. I had a Bishop who lost his daughter and two grandchildren in a car wreck and he was never the same. It was tragic such events can cause even the most faithful to despair of life itself. Even Paul admits to such feelings in 2 Corinthians 1:8.
      Blessings
      Padre Steve+

  5. I Love Pastor David Wilkerson and read His books on and off..Lately IVE been back to “Americas Last Call” and “Gods Plan 2 Protect His People In the Coming Depression”– To me He Is and Was a True Man of God 100% ALL THE WAY .. In my Heart and Soul I would never assume Him 2 commit suicide with His Wife in the car..He was 2 Heavy and Godly 4 this World.The Pain on His face was always there..We cant figure out another Human Beings actions especially David Wilkerson a True Heavyweight Believer.. I DO NOT witness Men like Him around these days..God Bless His Wife and Family..I miss him already and feel SAD

    • padresteve

      Anna
      I never assume anything, I know that Reverend Wilkerson was a Godly man and lived an amazing life. His death for whatever the reason is still tragic. As you can see from others who have posted here he has gone through much in the past number of years and I know how heavy his heart was for this world. I felt a tremendous sadness yesterday as I read his writings of the past few months. I could feel and sense his inner pain and struggle even while trying to always be faithful and encourage those that he touched. He was unique in our time. God bless,
      Padre Steve+

  6. Nancy

    Thank you for this post. I needed to read this today. You give me strength. I guess Rev. Wilkerson is still giving.

  7. David Wilkerson was such an inspiration to me. I looked forward to his newsletters and they always spoke to me where I was in my life – whether hopeless, tired, anxious, in despair, or on the mountaintop. I am grieved at our loss of such a godly man but I know the angels are rejoicing and Jesus has welcomed him saying “well done, good and faithful servant”.

    • padresteve

      Mae
      He was an inspiration to so many and had the ability to speak to people on their best days and on their worst. I’m glad to know that he touched you in that way and that Jesus will give you comfort in this time.
      Peace
      Padre Steve+

  8. Ross Creuswell

    I think it is sad that the media reports I have seen about this incident say nothing about the physical or emotional state of the truck driver into whose tractor-trailer Wilkerson plowed head-on. It is as if all the others effected (his wife, the truck driver, any eyewitnesses, other motorists whose lives were endangered, and the unfortunate emergency workers who had to retrieve Mr. Wilkerson’s remains from the vehicle) are just incidental bit players, extras in the spiritual drama of a famous preacher’s life and death. Anyone who has read Wilkerson’s writings (or transcripts of his sermons) in recent years knows that he was a man who saw strange and grotesque visions of the future. Why don’t we lay aside the obligatory piety for a moment and honestly consider the possibility that the man was mentally ill, and suffered from paranoid delusions and hallucinations. Let’s also consider the fact that one of Wilkerson’s dark preoccupations in his past writings has been suicide. Let’s also consider that the most fiery and holy preachers tend to preach the hardest against the very things with which they themselves struggle (Wilkerson’s devoted fan Jimmy Swaggart comes to mind here). Perhaps Wilkerson steered squarely into the front of that huge truck in an intentional (and successful) suicide attempt. If so, it’s just unfortunate that his wife was apparently not given a choice in the matter. In light of his recent blog posts I find it entirely possible that he may have finally found the deafening silence of heaven too much to bear. He wouldn’t be the first religious celebrity to have their faith falter or fail later in life. The diaries of Mother Theresa of Calcutta bear this out. It is a very heavy burden, spending one’s life propping up God before the eyes of a discouraged and wary public. Maybe it just became too much for him.

    • padresteve

      Ross
      Thank you for your comments. I do think that he was clinically depressed and that his death in light of his writings sounds like suicide more than an accident. I think I even mention that personal events as well as his burden which he shared in his “prophetic visions” may have been too much for him. He would not be the first religious leader to have this happen and you are right to point out as I did the experience of Mother Theresa. I find many of his “prophetic” visions to be at best extravagant and even disturbing. At the same time I never saw him as trying to make a buck as so many “prophecy preacher” do and I saw a sadness to his writings that is not present in those that seem just out to prove their point and make a buck. He may have been experiencing some form of mental illness but that is not a character issue. His teachings were straight out of the Pre-Millennial Dispensationalist school common to many Pentecostals and Fundamentalists and have been in the mainstream of Evangelical thought through things like the “Left Behind” series of books by Tim LaHaye. His teachings on personal holiness come straight out of classic Pentecostalism and the Holiness movement. I don’t think that he grew weary of “propping up God” as you say but I do think that he was depressed and struggling with his own faith and perceived failures. I understand that he had suffered some traumatic deaths in his family and as well as his wife and daughter having cancer. Who knows but maybe he had other struggles that we don’t know about. At the same time he was not a phony like Swaggart and actually did care about people especially those that society and many religious people scorn. Maybe that bothered him too as he saw many of his fellow preachers lapping at the bowl of the banking industry in their support of their prosperity teachings. Maybe he saw the effects of Christians who are willing to throw the people that he devoted his life to serving under the bus in order to give breaks to big business and the banking industry. I don’t know but he was one of the few “conservative” preachers preaching against that greed. I know that there are many who are calling his death a sign of the end times and who are making all sorts of claims linking his death to the condition of the world, whatever. My thoughts are that even if this was a suicide and he had been clinically depressed or suffering any other form of mental illness as he well could have been that this should not take away from him as a person.
      Thanks again for your comments and blessings, peace
      Padre Steve+

  9. David S.

    Hi all. First of all, my thoughts and prayers go to those who loved and were loved by David most as they are suffering great loss. David was greatly respected for his unwavering stand on the call to holiness and repentance. In fact, when I first heard the news, immediately I thought of John the Baptist who also had a fiery no-compromise ministry. It was necessary that John’s ministry started and finished as it did, as David’s has. Don’t ask me why, I cannot answer for John the Baptist, nor can I answer for David Wilkerson. But if David (or John) could speak to us today, they would tell us, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” David’s mission is over and God remains in control. Let us be thankful for the example and dig deeper into the things of God to become more effective witnesses. May peace be upon the Jerusalem of God, his Holy Bride.

    • padresteve

      David
      Thank you for your kind words about David and his impact on your life. He did have a John the Baptist type ministry though I tend more to think of him to be more like Jeremiah. I do believe that you are correct in what he would say to us today.
      Peace and blessings
      Padre Steve+

  10. David J.

    Hello Padre Steve,
    Many years ago, I was a street person in NYC and one of the guys in the shelter I would visit took me to Times Square Church. Man, it was so vibrant and full of the love of God. Yes, there were murmurings, bickerings and power plays just like with any group of more than 2 humans. I remember this Times Square Church outreach called, “The Upper Room” on top of a shoe shop near the Port Authority and a guy called Billy White was the leader. Well, to this day, I have never experienced such a presence of God as I felt then. It was awesome, you could hardly stand up in there, it was so heavy. We used to go out and grab other homeless folk and feed them and clothe them. They would be bawling like babies. I remember after one Saturday, Billy gave me a brand new pair of sneakers which I treasured for years. Well, I said all that to say this, I have searched my heart and soul over what could have possibly caused David Wilkerson to make such a radical statement and even to risk the lives of his loved ones. He veered into the oncoming vehicle AND he had on no seatbelt. I am convinced that David Wilkerson, outraged at how his precious, God-filled church could become such a den of thieves and rather than be associated with it, he exercised the “Samson Option”. I see the hand of God so strongly in these events. David Wilkerson gave his life to expose corruption in the Church, and it won’t be long before it all starts falling down. Thanks for your ear, Padre.

    • padresteve

      David
      I am glad that Reverend Wilkerson and Times Square Church had such a profound impact on you. There are thousands of people who can attest to the goodness and compassion of this man who worked with people that many ministers would never be associated. His passing be it from inattentive driving, a medical emergency or suicide by car is tragic and even the latter takes nothing away from his life or faith. We can thank God for the life of David Wilkerson.
      Peace
      Padre Steve+

  11. Bob

    I really think you are barking up the wrong tree when you claim that David Wilkerson MAY have committed suicide. He was a true man of God and would never have consider such a thing. I listened to his sermons for years and watched him cry with emotion while speaking about the hundreds of millions of souls that ignored the call of God or just did not care. His pain IMHO was exactly that, that he wished he could do more. I got this message from him almost every time I heard him preach.

    All of us go through personal trials and traumas but he preached that we were to put the burden on God and not on ourselves. I think if he would’ve been “depressed” he would’ve practiced what he preached and turned his burden and depression over to the One that gave him the most comfort.

    You must not have paid much attention to Wilkerson or heard the message that he preached if you can even contemplate that he would do something like you are suggesting. I also think it’s a shame that people stoop to such gossip. Let the Lord be the Judge, stop bringing up that subject as it is ludicrous and leave the gossip for idle minds!

    • padresteve

      Bob
      I can understand why you feel the way that you do. The fact that I even mentioned that his death might have been suicide is uncomfortable for those that hold him or for that matter any other minister in high esteem. I certainly do not disparage his life or ministry and I believe that even if he committed suicide, which is only conjecture on my part does not take away any of my respect for him. However as uncomfortable as the topic is based on the evidence of his writings of the past several months, the circumstances of the wreck combined with the pictures from the crash scene have to allow for the possibility that he took his life.
      He was a faithful and good man of God and his ministry was amazing so much so that in all the articles about his death even those in the “liberal” mainstream media there is nothing bad said about him save a snarky little article in the Wall Street Journal. That says a lot because David preached a hard message but he did so in such a manner that everyone knew that he was genuine. The fact that he was so burdened with the souls of people and the state of the world that it showed in the genuine pain that you could see that he was in makes this possibility so much harder to digest. But if you carefully read his daily blog posts of the past three to six months you see a man struggling with his own faith even asking the hard questions about unanswered prayers and his own lack of faith, his family’s recent struggles with traumatic events and illness, his concern for the deteriorating state of the world and combine them with the circumstances of the accident; no seat belt, an unexplained swerve into a lumber truck on a two lane highway bridge in clear weather with no other causal factors in a well maintained new relatively new car suicide has to be a consideration. I used to investigate traffic accidents when I was a safety officer in the Army and unless he experienced a sudden onset medical condition that caused him to swerve into the oncoming truck or he was not paying attention and lost control of his vehicle the only viable explanation is suicide. But even if it is the case I do not believe that it takes anything away from him. The fact is that many ministers, even spirit filled Godly men and women struggle with faith and personal trauma that sometimes leads to suicide or at least thoughts of it. We would like to think that ministers are immune from this but it is not the case. Minsters are human not super-human. We who minister suffer the same maladies as those that we minister to even psychological issues. It goes with the territory. Take a look at the high rate of turnover in ministry, the pressures on ministers to ignore their own issues or illnesses put on them by their congregations, fans and even financial supporters and you will see a terrible rate of people who leave the ministry, have failed marriages or fall into sins such as infidelity or worse. It is an uncomfortable subject because we want our spiritual leaders to be above such things but we are not and David Wilkerson was stunningly open with his struggles in his recent writings which I suggest you read with an open mind rather than an uncritical fan. Please be assured that this is not idle gossip or any attempt to speak ill of David Wilkerson. I admired him and still do nor am I standing as a judge over him. If you think that I am in any way doing some kind of hit piece on him you are wrong and you need to look at your own motivations for attacking me for suggesting this. I bear you no ill and do pray that you will find some kind of peace about this.
      Peace and blessings
      Padre Steve+

  12. Ross Creuswell

    With all due respect, Padre, if Wilkerson committed suicide by head-on collision, it takes a great deal away from his reputation because it also makes him guilty of the attempted murder of his wife (unless the two of them had some sort of agreement beforehand, which I doubt). It also makes him guilty of endangering the lives of other motorists, particularly the truck driver who was injured (and could have been killed) in the accident. However let me hasten to add that the more I have pondered on this in the past 24 hours, it seems more likely to me that he was just a very tired and depressed man of advanced years who may have had a heart attack or stroke, simply dozed off behind the wheel, or who mentally lost touch with reality for a spell and didn’t know what he was doing. My main reason for believing this is that a fundamentalist like Wilkerson would surely expect a burning hell to await him if he committed a murder-suicide. Therefore I don’t think he would have consciously, purposely done this act unless physical or mental illness superceded his own will. The sad part is that we will never know. The East Texas authorities would probably never publicly release information unflattering to a white male Christian conservative establishment figure. It would run against the grain of the prevailing culture in that part of the state.

    • padresteve

      Ross
      I hope that an autopsy confirms that he had a heart attack, stroke or some other medical condition that caused this or even that he became distracted for a moment. I suggest suicide because it is a possibility based on the evidence of his writings and circumstances of the wreck. Suicide it an act born not of depression but of despair of life itself. It is an irrational act even if it is planned out to the smallest detail. I deal with a lot of suicidal people in my work including some very devout Christians including ministers who have in their despair so struggled with their faith that they attempt suicide. According to one of Wilkerson’s co-workers he was going through a very difficult time with his own cancer, recurring cancer in in wife, both of his daughters and the death of a young granddaughter from a malignant brain tumor in 2005. Another commenter on this post hinted that there were things going on at the church that he founded in Times Square which he no-longer pastored that caused him grief. People in such a state do irrational things that normally they would not do and that is why I say that if this was a suicide, which I hope that it is not that it takes nothing away from him. Likewise men in his position usually have nowhere to go for help other than to pray because of their often isolated position where it is not safe to talk about one’s weaknesses especially when there are other “ministers” that would use such information to attack and try to destroy them in order to enhance their own ministries. Again I hope that autopsy results show that it was a medical condition that brought this about mainly because I think that people would use suicide to attempt to destroy the good works that he did with those that much of the church and society ignores and the impact of his ministry in so many lives. I’m not a fundamentalist by any means and I have been called an “apostate, heretic” and worse. I found some of his visions to be somewhat exaggerated and even unusual but I appreciate his work with the least the lost and the lonely. In regard to his visions he is not an isolated care as there are a large number of men and women of greater and lesser importance than him that have said or written similar things in relation to the state of the world so he is not necessarily completely out of the mainstream of his theological peers. Just look on the internet and you will see things more bizarre that you would imagine many times coming from men and women with big churches and television ministries. I do hope that we find the truth about the wreck and cause of death and that the authorities in Texas will be forthcoming and if not I hope that someone seeks a Freedom of Information Act petition to find the truth.
      Again thank you for your comments, I do appreciate them and come back anytime.
      Peace
      Padre Steve+

  13. ELAINE NERLAND

    I appreciate your respect for this man, but find it so disrespectful to imply– or even hint at — that he would even consider intentionally causing harm to himself, his wife, and the man in the other lane, his family and his income. Suicide and potential murder is not an option for a man that seeks eternal salvation. Surely, your words are not a tribute to a man that walked with his feet to the fire, and has a history of trusting God for all outcomes. You are like one of Job’ friends. May God have mercy on you.

    • padresteve

      Elaine
      I do thank you for posting you comments and I can understand how you feel. I sincerely hope that the cause of death was anything other than suicide but it cannot be ruled out. If you carefully read his writings of the past several months it is obvious that he was struggling and even despairing of life. Suicide is an irrational act that comes when someone is overwhelmed by life. He and his wife were both going through battles with cancer, his wife’s which were recurring. Both daughters are also dealing with it and he lost a granddaughter to malignant brain cancer in 2005. I do not believe that God would send him to hell for such an act if it happened to be the case. Yes he trusted God but he also expressed his disappointment with what he viewed as his own “lack of faith” and “failures.” He held himself to incredibly high moral and spiritual standards more so than most of us. As far as being one of “Job’s friends” they sought to find sin in Job I do not seek that with Reverend Wilkerson. If it was suicide it was an act not born of depression but of despair and neither is a sin. Suicide is a irrational act caused by great emotional and even spiritual pain. Like I said I hope that the crash investigation reveals a medical condition or something else that caused him to lose control of the car if only for the sake of his admirers that placed him on a super-human pedestal for decades and so that jealous peers would not use it against him in death.
      God bless you I appreciate your prayers and as I am so want to admit I am ever in the need of the mercy of God.
      Peace
      Padre Steve+

  14. John Erickson

    To Bob and Elaine- Please do not attack Padre Steve for simply stating the possibility of what happened to David Wilkerson. He means no disrespect, and is simply trying to explain to people, who are not as thoroughly aware of Mr. Wilkerson’s works (such as myself), what kind of life the man led throughout his days on earth, including the final ones. The Padre’s point is to both celebrate Mr. Wilkerson, and to show how much pain he drew onto himself in the course of his ministries. Both the Padre and I have been through times of extreme trial in our lives, and I can speak personally to having had suicidal thoughts when the pain and travails seemed too much to handle. Neither he nor I, nor I believe anyone else, has accused Mr. Wilkerson of any illegal or immoral act, but simply brought up the possibility to show that men of God are still men, still mortal, and can suffer the same agonies as you or I.
    Padre Steve is a very good person, and he is not launching any attacks or smear campaigns. Please accept his words as teachings to those unfamiliar with David Wilkerson, to show the depth of his compassion and caring for his fellow man, and not as insult to the memory of this great spiritual leader. Let’s celebrate the great man David Wilkerson was, and not bog ourselves down in arguments over semantics.
    Thank you all for your patience, and thank you, Padre, for letting me put in my two cents’ worth. Take care, and God bless.

  15. Linda Sandlin

    I can appreciate your imagination that someone as faithful to God would drive his vehicle into an on coming truck in order to end it all, however, I know the heart that beat within the man….It was the heart of JESUS. And I hope you never have to feel the burden that men like David Wilkerson have to bear. Many are called but few are chosen….He was chosen as one of the last day prophets to a Nation that has rejected the One True Living God. Now, that hurts the hearts of those who truly know how JESUS felt when HE cried out “Father forgive them, they no not what they do.” But we know. We know what we are doing and NO ONE seems to give a damn. Yes, I believe God reached down and plucked his servant from off the earth before HE send more wrath to come.

    • padresteve

      Linda
      While I can understand how you feel I do believe that you have created an idol out of David Wilkerson that he would not approve. David Wilkerson was a tremendous man of God but you obviously cannot be objective. If you actually read his writings from the past several months you would see that he was struggling with his faith and at times a perceived belief that he was “failing” God. David Wilkerson lived under tremendous pressure he was a role model and a genuine man of God and as a minister I can tell you that it is lonely and there are few that you can share your deepest feeling or doubts with simply because of reactions like your own. You claim to know his heart but that is presumptive and arrogant. David Wilkerson had a heart for Jesus, his people and this world but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t struggle. At the same time to try to assume the mind of God in believing that “God plucked his servant form off the world before HE could send more wrath to come” is to attach an importance to him that I’m sure that he would deny. He saw himself as a servant and while he certainly was a Jeremiah like figure in a prophetic sense he never equated his life in such a manner. You can see what you want and even condemn me for suggesting that suicide was a possibility but I never said anything bad about him and I pray that his death was not a suicide for reasons that I have mentioned to previous commentators, I just smashed your idolatrous view of him. Maybe that needed to be done regardless of his cause of death.
      I bear you no ill and ask that you keep me a sinner in your prayers because I know that I am always in need of the mercy and grace of God.
      Peace
      Padre Steve+

  16. kingbirdfivezero

    Padre Steve, when I first learned of David Wilkerson’s death and the manner in which he died — the thought of suicide did cross my mind. I was a consistent reader of Wilkerson’s blogs — which the one that he penned the day before his death did have a sense of finality — at least to me. I know also that all great men of God, like Wilkerson are under severe pressure — and therefore need the prayers of the saints to under gird them.

    If it indeed turns out that David Wilkerson took his life — this one act would in no way detract from the great things that God did through him. In my mind, David Wilkerson will always be a great man of God.

    My heart and prayers go out to the Wilkerson family and the driver of the truck who was also injured.

    • padresteve

      Thank you so much for your comments and insight. I can only say Amen.
      Peace and blessings
      Padre Steve+

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  18. Larry C.

    Thanks Steve. An interesting post.

    I would agree with you that when a minister spends alot of time always talking about trying to hold onto God no matter what, may reflect his own struggle; this preaching one’s own current psychological state happens alot in the non-liturgical, pietistic churches when one often preaches from your own current struggles.

    He very well could have been depressed. We know that when people are depressed, they are easily distracted and find it hard to focus or pay attention to things; and accidents can happen. I have insisted on driving people when I knew they were in an emotional crisis and their attention span and distractability was high and they could be a hazard to themselves and to others on the road. I didn’t think they were suicidal, but they were too preoccupied with their pain to be a safe driver.

    When I first became a Christian in 1973, one of the first things I was introduced to was Dave Wilkerson’s “Vision” message in which he said he literally saw what was soon to take place in the world and America. Was he telling the truth? American didn’t repent, and a catastrophe did not happen.
    So where did this Vision come from? Was it truly a 3-D divine “vision” that God supposedly revealed to Dave Wilkerson or was it simply one of those charismatic “visions” in which one thinks of something in your imagination and it gets turned into a modern book of Revelation experience when you stand behind a pulpit?

    In 1978 I went with other students from Midwest Bible College (now defunct) in Bloomington, Illinois to hear Wilkerson speak. He powerfully motivated us all to be more serious and focused on bringing others to Christ and to prepare for the coming of Jesus! It was an exciting time.

    I would agree, from what I know, Dave Wilkerson preached a message that was a good balance to the other inanities that were popular in the charismatic/pentecostal circles of that era. Wilkerson reminded us all of of the holiness tradition within evangelicalism. At the same time: Dave was wrong about so much. He lived in a world of the forces of God vs. the forces of Evil. Perhaps with advancing age, the utopian beliefs he had clung to and preached for his entire life, were starting to fray around the edges? The things he predicted in The Vision never came to pass. The 1980s came and the focus of the evangelical world shifted from the fervent apocalypticism of the 1970s to trying to turn America back to its supposed Christian roots through political efforts, stopping abortion and making sure that gays are still discriminated against by our laws.

    Perhaps Dave was going through some kind of de-conversion process where he was starting to doubt and be skeptical? So what do you do if you are starting to doubt? Preach faith and holding on! One preaches to the people and also to oneself.

    Not to speak ill of Dave, but in hindsight, I see him, like all of the charismatic preaches and teachers (of whatever camp) I followed in the 1970s Jesus People days, as essentially quacks. They live in a la-la land of make-believe and unreality. A tragic end to a man whom I no doubt believe was sincere and compassionate, but who never outgrew the fundamentalist faith he learned as a child.

    • padresteve

      Larry
      I remember the Jesus movement in California during the 1970s. It was an interesting time. Interesting point on his dualism which is quite prevalent in today’s Charismatic, Pentecostal and Evangelical movements. I think that you are correct about preaching to himself as well as his followers I got that feeling from reading the past several months worth of his blogs. I don’t know about a “deconversion process” but more of a dark night of the soul. I think that he was overwhelmed by the things with his and his family’s heath concerns as well as the burdens that he took upon himself. It is a tragic end even if it is not a suicide.
      Thanks and blessings,
      Steve+

  19. Tom Persaud

    Dear Padre Steve,
    Thank you for writing about this, and thank you for your patient and gentle boldness with your replies. It reminds me of David Wilkerson. I am a fervent follower of Pastor Dave’s blog and his teachings. He was my real-life role model of a true Christian and a true leader. The hearing of this death saddened me. I anticipated that this great man of God died peacefully in his sleep. But, when I found out how he died, I was floored. I thought, “Lord, how can you take this great servant of yours in such a violent manner?” I remembered how the Apostle Paul and Peter died and it depressed me. But, when I read Wilkerson’s last blog, I felt like my foundation was ripped out. It sounded to me like a suicide note. And, though old school, I could not understand why a God fearing man would blatantly disobey the law by not wearing a seat belt. However, I can also imagine him pulling it out if he was experiencing severe chest pains from a heart attack while driving. I have agonized over this for the past few days and grew more depressed with the absence of a public explanation as to the cause of his death. My agony worsened as I sensed a reluctance of my brothers and sisters to consider that our beloved leader may have failed in his final hour. It is this unquestionable loyalty that makes us vulnerable (like sheep) to good leaders gone bad. Pastor Dave recognized this danger as he grew in fame, and he made deliberate efforts to expose his vulnerabilities to us. I remember him often saying that he wants us to know that he struggles just like we do. In Pastor Dave’s spirit of frankness, I think he would appreciate this discussion. After reading all the comments, and knowing his character, even if clinically depressed, I am sure that this was NOT a suicide. The hand of God was on this man’s life from young days. But, wouldn’t Satan love to use this event to discourage us and to turn us away from God. Amazingly, now the last devotional reads as instructions to me on how to deal with his death. A true prophet; Yes, his spirit was stirred up and yes, he saw finality, but he couldn’t see that it was for him. So, he provided instructions for us to stick unwaveringly to the Word of God, no matter what happens around us. All the things he mentioned about “those going through the valley and shadow of death”, I felt over the past few days. But I couldn’t hear or heed his instructions until I read through this blog and the comments. Additionally, this man was ready to meet Jesus, but still felt fear in his last days. That too now makes sense to me because of the violence around his death. It reminds me of the fear Jesus had because He knew how violently he would die. Thank you.

    • padresteve

      Tom
      I appreciate your comments and I do hope this was not a suicide but suicide is within the realm of possibility and cannot be discounted. Grief and despair which seem to permeate his writings of the past few months can cause people to act in ways other than they would normally act and are not a personal failure or even a sin. Suicide is not a rational act and even very Godly people can succumb to the pressures of grief, loss, despair and perceived failure in life on in ministry. I hope that people will look on all the good and remember those things even if turns out to be a suicide which again I hope that it is not. Unfortunately if it is many people will remember that more than all the good. Peace be with you and thank you for writing.
      Blessings
      Padre Steve+

  20. DL Kennedy

    Hello Padre Steve.

    First, I have a background in law enforcement, and the accident does raise questions. If there is anything suspicious here, I believe it will come out. Even if the police in Texas want to protect Pastor Wilkerson’s reputation, which I doubt, the insurance companies will not. Still, I prefer to believe that this accident was exactly that – an accident.

    But if it wasn’t, then I absolutely agree with Ross Creuswell. And in light of what the Bible teaches, I’m surprised that you take the position you do. Ezekiel 18:24 – “But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die.”

    And if Pastor Wilkerson attempted the murder of his wife, and risked the life of an innocent man, then he sinned… and excusing it by chalking it up to depression does not change that.

    It seems your opinion about sin, and what its consequences are, differs from God’s. Are you wiser than Him?

    • padresteve

      DL
      I certainly don’t presume to know more than God but it seems that you do. I stopped that a long time ago deciding that the overriding message of the Gospel is that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself counting men’s sins not against them.” (2 Cor 5:19-20) You proof text scripture to support your position. I didn’t chalk this up to depression and you obviously haven’t read his writings of the past several months. The man was in deep despair and I only suggested that suicide was a legitimate possibility. You tend to decide that the atoning blood of Jesus on the Cross has little value. God loves David Wilkerson no matter what the circumstances of his death. But then it seems that the message of reconciliation is foreign to you. If you want to live in the Old Testament than do it and expect no mercy from God when you fall into sin or despair of life. Excuse me on that, expect no mercy if the grace and mercy of God purchased with the blood of Jesus means less to you than trying to justify your legalism and judgmental attitude. He wasn’t a murderer or even an attempted murderer if this was a suicide, he was a sick and despairing man worn down by life and trying to meet the unreasonable expectations of those that followed him and the God that he thought that he had failed.
      God bless
      Peace
      Padre Steve+

    • Nathan

      Hi DL Kennedy, your statement appears accurate……..from a carnal, religious man’s point of view.

      I ask you….Who are you, really? Where did you come from, really? Why are you here, really? Answer these questions correctly and you will not question your precious brother ever again. By the way David Wilkerson is overcome right now with joy unspeakable and full of glory and he’s looking forward to welcoming you into the kingdom of His Father, and your Father too. Tell him, I said hello.

  21. Doug Smith

    I have never once heard David speak of the deliverance ministry while reading his daily messages; where believers can be free indeed from their personal demons and the inherited curses entering our bloodline because of the sins of our fore fathers.
    Many legitimate Church’s and gatherings of true remnant believers cast out demons after the service and during special deliverance workshops.
    If it was not for the deliverance ministry I would have been dead
    a long time ago. I must do personal self deliverance several times a week or I would find life to be unbearable. It seems that the anti Christ spirit gets stronger every day.
    Some things can enter in the night if you have not prayed for a shield of God’s protection over your self before going to sleep.
    “But if it is by the power of God that I drive out the demons, it is evident that the Kingdom of God has come upon you.”
    http://bible.cc/luke/11-20.htm
    “my people perish for lack of knowledge”
    http://bible.cc/hosea/4-6.htm
    If you say that a true believer cannot have a demon you are rejecting knowledge and a necessary provision made by God to survive these evil last days.
    When you cast out devils you know the kingdom of God has come upon you.
    Faith is not believing hard enough so Yahweh will pull something off.
    He told us to go forth and simply heal the sick. Faith is a knowing with an expectation that is not at all carnal. He speaks to our spirit through our subconscious mind.
    “As a man thinketh, so he is”
    “Greater works shall you do because I go to the Father”

    • padresteve

      Doug
      And what does this have to do with David Wilkerson’s death? I hope that it means something to you and glad that God has used it in your life.
      Peace
      Padre Steve+

      • Just a believer

        Hi Doug, my precious brother. I understand exactly where you are coming from, but let me tell you my story and I hope it helps. I was a cigarette smoker from aged 11. By the time I was 13, I was doing a pack a day. I tried to quit desperately in my late teens but was unsuccessful. Finally at the age of 24, I found myself in David Wilkerson’s church and I finally felt loved. Well, guess what, I was delivered from smoking under his ministry. There was nothing ostentatious, there were no religious prayers talking about bloodlines, sins of the fathers, yada yada yada, ad nauseam. David loved me and I responded to his love and God delivered me. It’s the heart of a child really. I don’t have any expertise in greek or hebrew, exegesis or hermeneutics, all I can tell you is that there are thousands of folk who will stand before the Father on that day and we will call the name of David Wilkerson. I am one of them.

  22. David Joseph

    To my precious family on this website and beyond. Brethren, you may find this strange, but if you are a TRUE child of God, you would have been there when David Wilkerson (his earthly name) agreed to come to earth and take on a mission filled with such pain that no sane man would accept it. In fact, I was there and I gave him the honour that he deserved and I still do. For God’s sake, children, WAKE UP!!!!
    You/We have all agreed to be here and one day God will show you the covenant you made with Him before you came here. The covenant was this..”Are you willing to go to a place so evil, so dark that you may even doubt your own origin? Yes Lord, if you will be with me, I will go. Ok, child you will arrive in this world with no memory of me, but one day you will know that I went before you and you will believe.”
    Press in you WARRIOR, PRESS IN!!!!!!” The very fact that we are all here in this den of hell compells us to UNITE and fight back. Come on, put petty bullshit aside and focus on the enemy. David Wilkerson is a brave warrior who has fallen on the battlefield. Rally around his cry for holiness, love one another and FIGHT!!!! Stop watching crap on tv, read your bible, love your children, love your wife, stop lying and lusting and come to the Son. I speak to myself, my precious brothers and sisters as I am nothing without Him. Game on. Wilkerson is a massive headache for the devil.

    • padresteve

      David
      People don’t need to be preached at. David Wilkerson was human not God, born of a woman, born of the flesh. He was a great man of God but don’t ever equate him with God.
      Peace
      Padre Steve+

      • David Joseph

        Padre, I’m not sure you got my drift there, bro’. I was merely saying that we all originated from God, got lost through Adam and got found through Christ.
        The origin of our mission is not (should not be) clouded in confusion. I wasn’t preaching at anyone and if it came across that way, then I am simply very sorry.

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