40 Years of Ministry, 40 Years of Changing Lives

Jan 10, 2003 10:55 AM EST

The amazing story of ministering gangs in New York 40 years ago still continues to touch lives. "The Cross and the Switchblade" by David Wilkerson which records the amazing story of the author's journey in outreaching to gangs in New York City, led to the development of Teen Challenge, a ministry that counsels to inner city residents across 70 countries.

The founder of Teen Challenge recently met a Russian bishop who confessed to becoming Christian while reading the book in prison. He told of how inmates passed around handwritten copies of the book, one page at a time.

"I am amazed that after 40 years it would still be opening doors for evangelism," Wilkerson said.

The book, currently translated into 35 languages, has more than 32 million copies sold or given away. "The Cross and the Switchblade" is credited with sparking a renewed passion among Roman Catholics and mainline Protestant denominations.

Barbara Taylor, a counselor at a Teen Challenge Center for Girls in Florida, who read the book in one day confessed, "I did not personally know this Jesus who had the power to change lives." She continued, "The Holy Spirit had begun a process, and within weeks my 13-year-old daughter led me to Jesus. That night I told the Lord that my life was His to control. God placed a desire in my heart to work for Teen Challenge and set the course for the rest of my life."

By Pauline C.