This story is one of the reasons I moved to NYC. Mom read the book, The Cross and the Switchblade to us when we were kids. It tells how David Wilkerson (who founded Times Square Church) first came to New York City when he was still a country preacher in Pennsylvania. He ministered to gang members, the most notorious of which was Nicky Cruz, the warlord of the gang, the Mau Maus. I'm certain that book is one of the reasons I had the courage to move from our 70 acre farm to an 8-1/2' by 11' room on Times Square. I wrote a journal back then called Farm Boy on Times Square.
I've seen several productions of this story, and I was even cast as an understudy for the role of David Wilkerson when I was in my early 30s, though I never went on. Tonight I had a fresh thought: David Wilkerson didn't try to fit in. We live in a time that Christianity is disrespected, but not in the way gang members disrespected Pastor David. Nicky Cruz told him he'd cut him to pieces, and his response was, "You can cut me up into a thousand pieces, but everyone of those pieces will be telling you, 'Jesus loves you.'" Lord, give us the courage to speak Truth to this generation!
If you're outside the city you can see the production online for the next two weeks. If you watch right now or tomorrow before 3:15 (to finish before 6pm), you can see Nicky Cruz speak afterward. He said he doesn't know how much longer the Lord will keep him speaking. Be sure to catch him if you can.
* Parents should know: Gang violence; smoking and drinking alcohol depicted; drug use mentioned; Lord's name taken ("Oh my G_d"); "Go to h*ll," said on two occasions.
Beyond the Chariots.