Wilkerson, 79, died after his car collided with a tractor-trailer on a highway about 95 miles southeast of Dallas, according to The Associated Press. His wife, Gwen, was also injured but is expected to recover.
The pastor’s family issued a statement that appeared on the Wilkerson’s World Challenge website. “We appreciate your prayers and our hearts are sorrowful, yet we rejoice at the joy of knowing David Wilkerson spent his life well,” the statement said.
Wilkerson was known most for his outreach to street gangs, which he started after viewing a photo in Life magazine of New York City teens charged with murder. He wrote the popular book The Cross and the Switchblade and founded New York’s Times Square Church.
The 1970 movie version of “The Cross and the Switchblade” was produced by Dick Ross, who previously worked for BGEA’s World Wide Pictures.
Wilkerson also founded Teen Challenge, a ministry to young gang members and drug addicts, in New York in 1959. In 1963, he co-authored his best-selling story, which Christianity Today magazine listed in 2006 in the No. 32 spot on its “Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals.”
At present the Wilkerson family has requested a private family funeral in Texas.
The official memorial service will be held at Times Square Church in New York City within the next two weeks. The service will be streamed live on the Times Square Church website.