- Category : 1931-births
- Type : R
- Profile : 4/6 - Opportunistic / Role Model
- Definition : None
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Contagion 2
American Christian evangelist, best known for his 1962 book The Cross and the Switchblade, which became a best-seller, with over 50 million copies in over thirty languages. It is included in Christianity Today's "Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals". In the book, Wilkerson tells of the conversion of gang member Nicky Cruz, who later became an evangelist himself and wrote the autobiographical Run Baby Run. Cruz had been the leader of the "Mau Maus" gang, and he and his friend Israel Narvaez became Christians after hearing Wilkerson preach. In 1970, The Cross and the Switchblade was turned into a Hollywood movie starring Pat Boone as Wilkerson and Erik Estrada as Cruz.
He was the founder of the addiction recovery program Teen Challenge, and founding pastor of the non-denominational Times Square Church in New York City.
Wilkerson's widely distributed sermons, such as "A Call to Anguish", are known for being direct and frank against apostasy and serious about making the commitment to obey Jesus' teachings. He emphasized such Christian beliefs as God's holiness and righteousness, God's love toward humans and especially Christian views of Jesus. Wilkerson tried to avoid categorizing Christians into distinct groups according to the denomination to which they belong.
Wilkerson was killed in a head-on car crash in Texas on 27 April 2011, aged 79.