This article was orginially published in the February 1998 issue of Charisma.
It was Feb. 28, 1958, when the 26-year-old Pentecostal preacher from rural Pennsylvania disrupted a highly publicized murder trial in New York City. David Wilkerson had made the eight-hour drive from his quiet mountain village to downtown Manhattan for a simple reason: to speak to the seven accused gang members about their salvation.
In a grave attempt to share the love of God, Wilkerson had rushed to the front of the courtroom at the close of trial proceedings and pleaded publicly with the judge for permission to meet the teen-age defendants. News media were everywhere, and Wilkerson unwittingly made himself the source of headline news throughout New York City.
The judge had been receiving death threats during the trial, and Wilkerson was almost arrested as a presumed assailant. The judge later refused Wilkerson’s request to see the boys and ordered him never to return to his courtroom.