TYLER, TX (KLTV) – East Texans paid their final respects to Reverend David Wilkerson on Monday. Funeral services were held Monday for Wilkerson, who founded Times Square Church in New York. Wilkerson passed away last week in a car wreck in Cherokee County.
Nicky Cruz, a former gang leader from New York, explains how Reverend Wilkerson touched his life.
Cruz says he was feared by everyone except for David Wilkerson. Wilkerson went to the gang infested area of New York, after being warned by police that he would be killed if he preached there.
"When I heard this guy talking about God, I started screaming; cursing. Told him to shut up and that if he didn't shut up, I was going to kill him. Out of the blue sky, he got this boldness and then went direct and said ‘I got a message for you, from heaven to you. Nicky … Jesus loves you,'" said Cruz.
Cruz eventually decided to listen to what Reverend Wilkerson had to say. "Two weeks later, I went to hear this guy. I walked in with 75 guys for protection, had my gun loaded with bullets, and there were 12 different gangs. There were about 2000 people there and thought, ‘There's going to be blood all over that place,'" Cruz added.
Instead of bloodshed, a message was shared that finally broke down Cruz's barriers. Cruz says he collapsed in the arms of Jesus Christ and started crying in front of his girlfriend, enemies, and his gangs.
Cruz has now traveled the world for 50 years spreading the same message to others. He is also the author of 15 books.