Teen Challenge and Times Square Church founder dies in road crash

The founder of Teen Challenge and Times Square Church in New York City died in a head on collision in Texas on Wednesday.

The Rev David Wilkerson, 79, was killed when the car he was driving went into the opposite lane and collided with an oncoming truck.

His wife, who was a passenger in the car with him, was rushed to hospital where she remains in a critical condition. The truck driver was also taken to hospital.

CBN News said it was unclear what had caused Wilkerson to veer into the other lane.

The Wilkerson family said in a statement: "We appreciate your prayers and our hearts are sorrowful, yet we rejoice at the joy of knowing David Wilkerson spent his life well. More information will be coming soon. Thank you for your prayers."

A memorial service will be streamed live from Times Square Church on a date to be confirmed later.

Times Square Church Pastor Carter Conlon expressed his sorrow in a statement.

“It is with deepest of sadness that we have to inform you of the sudden passing of Reverend David Wilkerson, our founding pastor,” the statement read.

“Pastor David Wilkerson’s was a life fully given for the glory of God and souls of men. He was greatly loved and he will be greatly missed.

“Our prayers are with the family and we as a church body are committed to standing with them at this time of sorrow.”

Wilkerson is the author of bestselling book, The Cross and the Switchblade, which tells of his ministry among gang members and drug addicts in New York.

He founded World Challenge in 1971 as an umbrella for his crusades, minister conferences, media and publishing, and outreach programmes.

He later went on to found Teen Challenge as a ministry specifically reaching out to troubled youngsters.

In a statement, Teen Challenge said it was “immeasurably saddened” by the loss of its founder.

“’Brother Dave’ was used by God in 1958 to reach out to gang members in New York City. Through that singular act of obedience, tens of thousands of those bound by drug, alcohol and other addictions have found freedom through Jesus Christ.

“Right now, it is as important as ever for us to carry on the mantle of this ministry to honour Brother David’s legacy,” the organisation said.

Wilkerson founded Times Square Church in 1987 after his heart broke at the sight of the prostitutes and drug addicts and drug dealers inhabiting the area. Today the church has more than 8,000 members.