Posted: April 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

Recently I read an article about the The July 20th, 1969 moon landing and of Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon. It said because there is no wind on the moon  the footprints will stay for one million years.  I’m not sure how they know that, but that’s what it said. A million years seems like a long time but it is like the blink of an eye compared to forever or eternity.

I then thought of another man, who never walked on the moon but whose footprints will last forever and not just a measly one million years.  He died in a car accident the other day at the age of 79 but his impact, his imprint will last forever.  And I am here today because of this man’s imprint on my life.

The man I’m talking about is David Wilkerson the founder of Teen Challenge, the world wide Christ centered addiction recovery program, the author of numerous books including the author of the 15 million seller The Cross and the Switchblade, the founder of World Challenge and the founder of Time Square Church.  But let me go back almost 40 years and tell you how this man’s obedience to God was instrumental in my coming to Christ as Savior.

It was on June 29th, 1971 that I found myself with a friend on a highway somewhere in Ohio.  We had been hitchhiking across the country having left the Boston area a couple of weeks earlier.  We had very little money, slept mostly on the side of the roads, had been threatened several times by men who didn’t think that males should have long hair, and held by the police a few times because we were hitchhiking on the highway.

We really didn’t have a plan, we were just going wherever the next ride would take us.  I remember being, on the side of the road  for hours somewhere in Missouri and not one person stopped to give us a ride.  So eventually we crossed the highway, stuck out our thumbs and the first car that came by stopped and off we went.  I see now how God had His hand on each ride as He was moving us to the  spot on the side of a highway in Ohio on June 29th, where He had a black man name Larry in a yellow Volkswagen Bug stop and give us a ride.

He started talking about Jesus and how he used to be a drug addict but God changed him.  He asked if we wanted to go to church and we both said, “No.” But then he said, “Listen after church come to my house for a shower, food, and a bed to sleep on.” We both said, “We’ll go to church.” Believe me hitch hiking across the country is overrated, especially if you have little money to buy food or pay for a clean, dry place to sleep.

Growing up Catholic did not prepare me for this church where the people clapped their hands, sang with enthusiasm, prayed loudly, and even lifted their hands when they prayed.  But we could handle it because after church we would get food, shower, and a bed to sleep in.

After the singing several guys stood up and said that they used to be drug addicts but Jesus had changed their lives.  Although I was an active drug user I didn’t see a need to change and was just waiting for church to get over because waiting for me was food, shower, and a bed.

But God knew how to get my attention. The preacher then began to talk.  He said that he was an alcoholic for years but Jesus changed his life.  Boom, I began to listen because I grew up in a family with an alcoholic parent.  The speaker’s  name was Jerry Wilkerson, the brother of David Wilkerson, the founder of Teen Challenge.  I had been brought not only to a church but to a church service being run by the Christ centered drug rehab program Teen Challenge.

Then after he spoke he asked those that wanted to change, but couldn’t,  to come up to the front of the church for prayer.  And then, this is what he did.  He pointed at me and my friend and said do you two guys right there have the courage to come up and pray to Jesus.  I turned around and there were no other guys behind us.  And on that night in a church somewhere in Ohio where we were brought by a Teen Challenge graduate we went up to the altar.  I told God that I was messed up and asked Him to help me and I asked Jesus Christ into my life.  I left that church and immediately entered Teen Challenge, the Christ centered drug rehab program started by David Wilkerson.  My friend left after three days. I spent a year in the program, growing in Christ and getting off of drugs.  And almost 4o years later I am still drug free and still in love with Jesus and still being changed by Jesus.

David Wilkerson’s footprints may never be seen on the moon for the next million years, but his imprint is on the lives of tens of thousands that have gone through Teen Challenge and untold thousands whose lives have been touched by the Teen Challenge family.  His imprint can be seen on the lives here in Haiti that are being touched by Heartline.  And this imprint will still be seen forever, through eternity, in the lives of many that will find Heaven their eternal home largely because of the obedience of  a man named David Wilkerson.

John McHoul

  1. shari says:

    Thanks for sharing your powerful story, John. Reading Cross & the Switchblade was my first time to hear David Wilkerson speak. I remember thinking that he was the first Christian I knew of who had risked his own life to share the love of Jesus. He is now in God’s presence & there is nowhere better to be.

    May the Lord use you in Haiti & around the world to imprint other lives as you now spread the love of Jesus.

  2. johnmchoul says:

    While I can’t recall the several messages that I heard him speak. I do recall the strong presence of God as He shared with passion.

  3. Thank you for sharing your testimony. How amazing it is to see the exponential impact of other people’s influence on our lives. Thanks for all you do.

    • johnmchoul says:

      It makes me aware of the impact that we can have on others and generally we are not even aware of it. There is something about faithfully staying the course that speaks volumes to others.

  4. kathy says:

    Wow. What a testimony.

  5. Jon M says:

    A good word, John! Thanks.
    I really admire the work of Teen Challenge.
    What a good example David Wilkerson is of a life well spent.

  6. Kim says:

    What a beautiful testimony John. I can’t help but smile thinking about how the Lord made Jerry so bold to have him call you out.

  7. Pam K. says:

    I remember reading “The Cross and the Switchblade” back in the ’70’s, when I was a new Christian. I am saddened that David had to leave us here on earth, when I can imagine there was so much more work he could have accomplished here. But I am thrilled to know that God met him on the other side and said, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

  8. Raelenna Ferguson says:

    John. thank you for sharing this testimony, what a honor to David, Jerry and Larry. All 3 played such an important role. I had such a wonderful time with you in Haiti a few weeks ago. You taught me so much about staying the course and just “being there”. That has stuck with me and I think of your words daily. You and Beth are awesome doing amazing work for HIM!!
    Raelenna Ferguson

  9. Tara says:

    I love this post. Third time reading it, still love it.

  10. Amy says:

    Beautiful testimony! Thank you for sharing.

    ~Amy in WI

  11. Sherri Healy says:

    If only we could all be so bold for Christ!

  12. Jessica Furrow says:

    Thanks so much for sharing that- its really cool to hear how God has a plan for us even when we are most messed up. I’ve never heard of David Wilkerson before but I’m thankful for the impact he had on you and for the way God has used you in Haiti and Heartline and all you do for the people of Haiti. Your story entourages me to be patient because we never know what God has planned for our lives 🙂

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