VOL VII / ISSUE 06 / JUNE 2011

A Private Moment for Times Square Church

By Carter Conlon

It is our time to mourn and to celebrate the life of our beloved founding pastor, David Wilkerson. He passed away suddenly on April 27th in a motor vehicle accident.

One of the hallmarks of Brother Dave's life and ministry is that people were radically transformed by the power of Almighty God. Not only transformed, but many went on into ministry and became great soul winners in their own right.

Personally, I get tremendous comfort from the thought of Brother Dave dancing around the throne of God. I saw him dance on the platform one time, quite unexpectedly. I don't even know what provoked it, yet there was such a grace on him as he suddenly left his seat and started to dance all over the platform. My first thought was that this must have been what it looked like when King David danced behind the Ark as the presence of God was going into Jerusalem. I felt that I should join him, but I just could not bring myself to do it. It was not my moment, anyway, it was his.

I remember when the Holy Spirit told me seventeen years ago on the platform of Times Square Church, "Do not turn to the left hand or to the right of everything that you are going to learn here. And do not turn this church in any other direction but the one that you are going to be taught." I did not fully understand the instruction, for in those days I had absolutely no inclination of ever pastoring Times Square Church. I was actually quite surprised the day that Brother Dave told me I would be the next pastor. It was in 2001, and again we were worshiping. He leaned over to me and said, "It's time now, you are ready." We were still in the middle of singing, so I asked, "Ready for what?" And he replied, "You are ready to lead this church." And that was it. He was a man of few words, but when he said something, he meant it.

You know, people can try to teach you things, and they can declare themselves to be something or other. However, when you get to stand next to a man and hear him worship for sixteen years, you really learn a lot about him. Brother Dave would be worshiping God about a foot away from my ear, crying out constantly for the presence of the Holy Spirit. He told me many times, "Carter, if the Holy Spirit doesn't come, church is worthless and there is no point in meeting. If God's Holy Spirit ever leaves, let's just close the doors and move on." Most of the time while everyone was singing, he would be praying with his hands in the air, "Oh, Holy Spirit, come. Oh, Holy Spirit, bless the people. Holy Spirit, give strength." I learned more about the heart of Pastor David in those moments than at any other time.

He often told me, "Carter, take the lowest seat in the house." As the Scripture says, if somebody more honorable than you shows up, you will not be embarrassed (see Luke 14:10). It is a good place to be, and that is exactly where Brother Dave would be found. Once in a convention he introduced me as his pastor, and how humbling and terrifying it was to hear those words come out of his mouth. How it showed the character of the man-a hundred times my superior,  yet willing to be under the authority of somebody he had actually trained in Christ. I remember the day he told me, "You are my pastor now; you are free to speak into my life. You are free to help me; to govern me; to help judge and keep me safe." Of course I would never abuse that position.

He started to encourage me about a year ago to sit in his seat during service. I told him, "Not on your life, because if you show up…" So we had this standing joke between us, and I said, "I will sit in your seat two weeks after your memorial service." He once told me, "Oh, Carter, I am really afraid I am going to outlive you." I replied, "Well, then you lose if you do! If I get to heaven first, I win!" Well, I am not going to sit in his seat-we have actually wrapped it up and delivered it to the Wilkerson family.


Now having lost a great spiritual father to so many of us, where do we, as the church of Jesus Christ, find ourselves today? I believe that in the last chapter of Deuteronomy, the people of Israel who were led out of captivity by Moses found themselves in very much the same place as we are in today.

Moses had been used of God to stand against hell and call His people out of darkness. He didn't come in strength, he came in weakness. Likewise, Pastor David did not come to New York City in strength. As a matter of fact, Nicky Cruz said he was so skinny it wasn't worth beating him up! He did not come as an eloquent preacher, dazzling people with his words. He came in the demonstration of the Spirit and power of God. He stood on the street corner and began to preach to gangs. He went into hovels and dens, reaching out to young people in the city.

He was a type in our generation of someone who laid hold of God and stood as Moses did before Pharaoh, saying, "Let the people go!"-people who many would deem as having no help, no hope, no future. Psychoanalysts who examined Nicky Cruz declared him to be "unredeemable; too given to violence; too twisted; too inwardly damaged to ever be a functioning member of society."

But David Wilkerson stood before him and said, "Jesus loves you." It is as if those three words penetrated down the corridors of all the abuse, the witchcraft, and all that was keeping this young man in captivity. By the power of God, every door of darkness was unlocked right to the core of his heart, and Nicky Cruz went on to become one of the greatest evangelists of our generation. Let the world say about you what it will-but the power of God can set you free!

Moses led the people as a faithful shepherd, and he constantly opened to them the provision of God for their hunger and their thirst. As they walked through their own personal wilderness, they saw God's miraculous provision literally falling out of heaven; daily water coming out of the toughest of places.

Similarly, Brother Dave would open the Bible and constantly lead people to Jesus Christ-to the cross, to the power of the Holy Spirit, to the faith that God is always looking for in order to lift us out of mediocrity and into all that He intended for us. Brother Dave would open the Word and bring my mind and spirit into a dimension of God for which I am forever thankful. Through his preaching of the New Covenant, in particular, I was brought to a place of understanding that the whole Christian life is to be lived by accepting the sacrifice of God's Son for our atonement-accepting the Holy Spirit as the power of God to bring the promises of God to reality in our lives.

He would remind us that we are not accepted by our works, for God does not even deal with us, He deals only with His Son. If Jesus is speaking our name at the throne, it does not matter what the devil throws at us. In order for the devil to condemn those in Christ, he has to be able to condemn the Son of God. Brother Dave brought us into this fullness of the understanding of the New Covenant. He told me many times, "Carter, the New Covenant is the key not only to the church of Jesus Christ standing but actually being victorious in the last days." The New Covenant is the key!

At the end of his life, the Lord brought Moses up to Mount Nebo to see all of the Promised Land with his own eyes-the places where the people would dwell, what kind of a victory they would have (see Deuteronomy 34:1-3). What an amazing similarity to the latter part of Brother Dave's ministry when the Lord brought him to the New Covenant. I remember when he first told me back in 1994, "I have a promise of God that is yet to be fulfilled," and he showed me Psalms 25:14: "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant." He said God gave him that promise as a young minister, but he did not quite understand what it meant at the time. However, in the latter part of his ministry, the New Covenant was unlocked, and what incredible victory it has been for all of us.

"Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord…And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended" (Deuteronomy 34:5, 8).

Brother Dave once told me, "When I die, don't talk about me, just move on. You have the Holy Spirit-don't let a shrine to me ever be erected." He knew he was simply an ordinary man indwelt by an extraordinary God, and that what he had become was within the reach of all who choose to obey God. Moses died after seeing the vision of the Promised Land, and then there was a season of weeping-so it is appropriate for us to mourn. But I thank God there has always been a Comforter with us. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

So the question arises for us today as the Church-where do we go from here? I believe we are receiving the same commission that was given to Joshua (in the context of Joshua being every pastor, every leader, every elder, everybody in a leadership position, everybody who is leading somebody).

"Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel" (Joshua 1:1-2). The land is the place of covenant-of freedom in Jesus Christ. It is the place of facing the giants, where those who are weak become strong.

The Lord is calling us to something much greater than we have ever known before-to put away unbelief and go in and possess our inheritance in Jesus Christ. Our cry should be, "Lord, this city cannot go to hell when there is still a body of believers and the testimony of God!" We must refuse to look at the giants before us but rather stand and be a voice for righteousness and truth.

"Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses…unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them…Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the Lord your God giveth you to possess it" (Joshua 1:3-11).

In other words, prepare to move! That was the command that was given, and this is our commission today as well. Get ready to go on a journey; prepare the things that you are going to need. We are going to go in to possess all that the Lord has promised us-to begin to truly know the life of God.

"Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, The Lord your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land. Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them; until the Lord have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the Lord your God giveth them…" (Joshua 1:13-15).

In other words, there are many of us who have found the truth of the New Covenant already. But we are going to go in and fight for those who have not yet entered into that rest. We are not going to settle in in our own personal victory and say, "Well, this is good enough, I am enjoying where I am dwelling. Let everyone else find for themselves what I have found." No, that is not the attitude of the church. We are going to fight for each other in the Body of Christ first, until every person has found his inheritance-supernatural life in Jesus Christ.

We are not going to quit until Pentecost comes again in the fullness of its power in our generation. Brother Dave died believing that in the last days there would be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit greater than the outpouring on the day of Pentecost-poured out on our sons and daughters, young and old. There would be an ability to see; supernatural strength and power.

He told me that only the Holy Spirit will be able to get the church of Jesus Christ through to victory in these last days. You and I are going to face unprecedented darkness in our generation, but we have the power of the One who created the universe resident and willing to give us the strength we need-not only to possess an inheritance for ourselves but to see many more brought into freedom. We are going to pray and fast-trusting God for the supernatural; pressing through until the Holy Spirit touches us in full measure. There are wonderful days ahead of us. I believe the Lord will be glorified, and we are going to see God do wonders in this generation.

"And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go…Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage" (Joshua 1:16, 18). So the question about where to go from here is answered in Joshua chapter 1-we go into the promises of God. The wonderful thing about the church of Jesus Christ is that it is never over. It is always just beginning. It is a kingdom where morning by morning new mercies we see. Thanks be to God.

I am glad I got to talk with Brother Dave on the Monday before he passed away. I told him I loved him. I told him I respected him. I told him that whether I was an annoyance or not, I was coming down on Wednesday to sit with him all afternoon. I told him, "You can talk to me if you want to, or you don't have to talk to me if you don't want to. But I am coming, and I am going to sit with you, and we are going to spend the afternoon together." And he said, "Okay, that would be nice."

I am going to miss my friend. But I am certain it would fill his heart with joy to know that until the day that we meet again, we are going to proclaim Jesus Christ.!

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