Rev. David Wilkerson Killed in TX Car Crash

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Rev. David Wilkerson, founding pastor of Times Square Church in New York City and author of the well-known book The Cross and the Switchblade, was killed Wednesday in a head-on collision in Texas. He was 79.

Wilkerson's wife, Gwen, was also involved in the crash.  She is in fair condition and expected to recover.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, May 14 at 2 p.m. ET at Times Square Church in Manhattan, N.Y.  Doors will open to the public at 12 p.m. will be streaming the service live, beginning at 2 p.m.

Pastor Wilkerson has been a guest on "The 700 Club" several times. Watch those appearances and a whole lot more on his life and impact: Legacy of Faith: Pastor David Wilkerson.

"Thank you for all your prayers and the outpouring of love you have shown for the Wilkerson family," Times Square Church Senior Pastor Carter Conlon said in a statement, Thursday, on the church website.  "We are comforted by knowing that Pastor David has been enjoying the full presence of the Lord for more than a day now."

Conlon added that the family will have a private funeral in Texas.  A public memorial service will be held at Times Square Church within the next two weeks.

How did Pastor David Wilkerson's ministry and life impact you?

CBN founder Pat Robertson remembered Wilkerson as a "tremendous man" who is "with Jesus and  is rejoicing in heaven." Click play for more of his comments following Heather Sells' report.

Also, CBN Chaplain Joel Palser, a friend of Wilkerson, talked more about the Wilkerson's life and what qualities made him such a strong man of God.

Click play below for his comments.

Crash Details

Wilkerson was driving east on U.S. 175 in Cuney, Texas, Wednesday afternoon, and moved into the opposite lane where a tractor trailer was driving westbound.

The truck driver saw the car and tried to move out of the way, but still collided with the pastor's car head on, according to Public Safety Trooper Eric Long. 

The accident occurred on the Neches River bridge, about 100 miles outside Dallas.  Wilkerson and his wife had recently moved to Tyler, Texas, from New York. 

It's unclear what caused him to veer into the other lane.  The truck driver has since been released from the hospital.

Wilkerson was pronounced dead on the scene.

Last Words

Wilkerson posted a blog dated April 27 -- the day of his death. In the post, titled "When All Means Fail," he encouraged those facing difficulty to "hold fast" and stand strong in faith.

"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,'" Wilkerson wrote. "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."

Read all of Wilkerson's final blog here.

Scott Ross, a 700 Club correspondent, knew Rev. Wilkerson both personally and professionally.  Watch his comments below on the legacy Wilkerson left behind.

Word of the accident began to spread Wednesday night on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Christians urged prayer for Mrs. Wilkerson, who's in "fair" condition -- one step up from critical.

Rev. Wilkerson's Impact

Wilkerson's cousin Rich Wilkerson confirmed the death on Twitter.

"It is confirmed my dear cousin David Wilkerson lost his life in a tragic car accident this afternoon..Prayers r needed at this time," he tweeted.

Rev. Wilkerson spent the early part of his ministry reaching out to gang members and drug addicts in New York, as told in his bestselling book The Cross and the Switchblade.

"The term LEGEND is often used to describe a person of extreme influence but what about a man that supersedes superlatives..david wilkerson," his cousin tweeted right after confirming his death. 

In 1971, Wilkerson started World Challenge, Inc. as an umbrella for his crusades, conferences, evangelism and other ministry. Times Square Church was founded under the group in 1987.

The church is now led by Pastor Carter Conlon and has more than 8,000 members.

Wilkerson also founded Teen Challenge, a Christian outreach program for troubled young people and recovering drug addicts, which currently has more than 100 centers nationwide.

"Please remember the Wilkerson family in your prayers as our founder, Rev. David Wilkerson, went to be with the Lord this evening," Teen Challenge told Twitter followers.

Wilkerson is survived by his wife, four children and 11 grandchildren.

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