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The Cross and the Switchblade
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The Cross and the Switchblade

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  27,287 ratings  ·  319 reviews
Harlem in the 1950s is the setting for this true story of the miracles that took place when David Wilkerson came face to face with brutal gang leaders and young lives wrecked by drugs and sexual abuse, and the complete transformation that took place in even the most hopeless situations.
Unknown Binding, 256 pages
Published December 31st 1964 by Marshall Pickering (first published 1963)
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Mike (the Paladin)
Another book I read many, many years ago, and like many people I picked it up at a time of crisis in my own life. After reading this book I went so far as to contact Nicky Cruz who was starting his own ministry.

As to the rating, the book isn't what might be called "great writing" but it is intense and in most places compelling. Told from a first person point of view Mr. Wilkerson relates the story and opens many of it's implications and inspirations to us.

That being said, and in the spirit of f
Olivia Humphrey
I decided to read this book, because of the controversial religion in this book. Previously going to a religious school, i found this book would be a good read to experience a main male character, going through adventures other men i have read about have not. As i have not read a lot of this genre, i felt it would be good to expand my knowledge. Learning about other problems in this world, beside the ones occurring in my part of the world is important in exploring what the world has to offer.

Alan Smith
As a non-Christian who dislikes being lectured about the supposed life-enriching joys of letting Jesus into your heart, I could logically be expected to loathe this book. To be fair, though, Wilkerson's work about his activities among street-kids and criminals is both entertaining and moving. He presents his case openly, with an obvious pride in his achievements and yet totally modestly, and pulls off the rare trick of telling a pro-Christian story that doesn't make the non-religious squirm with ...more
Katie Huscroft
This is definitely not the sort of book I would normally read. My christian friend lent it to me to read as I am not a believer and she said you can see God working through people.

I did like this book and found some of the stories emotional and moving. I liked how David would pray for a sign and then something would suddenly happen. All those examples in the book made me think it was too strange to be a coincidence and made me believe there might be something out there although I am still skepti
Rissa Karina Burge
CAREFUL in reading this book. It will trap you. This book is not about men. Instead, it's a book about the Holy Spirit in journeys of men. Firstly, the Spirit powerfully changed a journey of a preacher's life, David Wilkerson's. Then through this man's journey, a lot of other people's journeys are changed. From gangsters to ministers. From fighters to soldiers. From being lonesome to being loved. This is a story how God uses David Wilkerson to change teenagers in New York slums that were trapped ...more
When I was in college, I had a class on urbanization where we broke up into small groups. Each group was then assigned an inner-city neighborhood in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. My group was assigned the Powderhorn/Central neighborhoods of Minneapolis, and we spent the next few weeks getting to know the area. (On the first day we saw the cops chase down a teenager on foot)

One of the stops we made was to a church that was home to a local TeenChallenge ministry, so we sat in on one of their dai
When I was middle school aged, I read this book over and over and over (which probably was not appropriate for a sixth or seventh-grader) but I couldn't get over the radical changes in the lives of the teens whom David Wilkerson met and evangelized.

The story of how he came to New York, and the legacy of his grandfather, as well as the sacrifices his wife had to make, just touched every piece of me. Of course, there were many things in the story that I appreciate much more as an adult.

I haven't r
I have wanted to read this one for a long time but never seemed to be able to find it at book sales. After finally being able to read it I understand why some consider it a Christian classic. You may not agree with Wilkerson's theology but while men stand around and argue theology Wilkerson's work still lives on. He was willing to go into the worst places and reach out to the meanest people and God rewarded him for that. This is a great book to read, it was an easy read and the authors kept it s ...more
This is a very powerful book! I wept tears of joy after almost every chapter just watching how God was directing this man's steps toward what God was calling him to do. I remember I found it because someone from Teen Challenge suggested it when I was researching info about Teen Challenge for a screenplay I wanted to do. After reading it I felt that this book would make a powerful movie. Then I found out it was. Unfortunately the movie didn't do it justice I think because of the low budget it pro ...more
Jerome Peterson
A phenomenal true life story of gangs and one man's calling to show them that there is light at the end of their dismal tunnel;another path; hope; and a brighter future. A well written book dotted with profound reports and insights from the author about the gang members and their individual reactions. Wilkerson does a great job bringing out the shortcomings as well as the hope for his calling. Written decades ago this book is still relevant today and could be used today for our communities with ...more
Wow! What an amazing faith-building story! Highly recommended for teens and beyond (some of the content is a bit too mature for little ears, although I do plan on reading this aloud to my family with some editing as I go).
If you are looking for a book that will build your faith, read this book.
If you are looking for a good resource for teens that would deter them from desiring to experiment with drugs, have them read this book.
This book is like my grandfather. It's full of amazing stories, but it's pretty dated and a little, well direct.

BUT...the story in insanely powerful, and God used it to speak directly to me about something very specific when I was reading it. Plus, it's just one of those classic things the older generation knows, and it's good to dip into their culture now and again.

Needless to say, my mom gave it to me to read.
Great book!

The book is the true story of how God used a normal country preacher to start a movement that reached out to toughest drug-atticted, gang-fighting street kids in New York, and then spread to many countries across the world.

This very inspiring and God glorifying story is a "must read" for anyone leading a ministry of any kind (and the wives or husbands).

I have had a copy of this book sitting on my bookshelf for at least 20 years without touching it - don't make the same mistake I did
This book had been on my shelf for a few years and am very glad to finally to read it.

It did a little while to get in because as Reverend David begins his ministy with New York street kids, he doesn't know what he doing and consequently follows through step by step as the Holy Spirit leads him. A bigger picture imerges of the lives, stories and sense of hoplessness to which of the people he ministers to have.

I think this is read must christian book even though it was wrtten nearly 50 years ago
The true story of a Pentecostal minister who went to New York to work with street gang kids in the late 50s. I grabbed this book because it was a tie-in with the film version that starred Pat Boone and Erik Estrada. To be honest, I bought it mainly for camp value, but the book surprised me. It's somewhat inspiring, even though I don't buy the religious interpretation that Wilkerson places on nearly every even that happens.
The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson, deals straightforwardly with life-threatening heroin drug addiction in its story of redemption of gang members in New York City in the early 1960s.

One of the most hardened gang members, Nicky Cruz, recounts how as the president of the Mau Maus, he was the most ruthless in his violent acts, even to the point of murder. When the skinny preacher from rural Pennsylvania showed up on the streets of his city, Cruz mocked and spit at him, but Wilkerson
What I liked:

Even though he was poor and naïve, Wilkerson started reaching out to “the least of these.” I like that he did something, instead of talking.

I love that later in the book several denominations of churches came together in purpose. Unity is under-rated in our culture. I think you see this in the churches in Acts. When people are united in Christ great things begin to happen.

Wilkersons words to Nikki, a gang-member who threatened his life: “You could cut me up into a thousand pieces a
True Story of a small town Pastor who, through a commitment to replace watching T.V with prayer, is led by the Spirit to Harlem to minister to 13-16 year old gang members responsible for the murder of a special needs boy.
The story recounts the conversation of gang members, Rev.Wilkenson's faith to follow and trust the Holy Spirit's leading and provision, and provides a great reminder of the powerful God I serve....His heart for the lost and exhorts me to trust his power more.
Dane Cramer
I read this book when I was a teenager. It had a profound impact on me then. This time, I listened to the audio book. Again, it left an imprint on my soul,

First, let me say that the narrator, Paul Michael, did an amazing job. His voices blended in so well with the story that it was easy to get caught up in it. He was flawless.

The story itself is of how a Pennsylvania preacher was led by God to New York city to share the gospel to its street gangs. As a volunteer who leads weekly Bible studies at
Central Beat
Have you ever heard of "Teen Challenge"? This is the story of the creation of that youth group back in the 50s and 60s as told by its founder, Pastor David Wilkerson. This story is both incredible and amazing. As another reviewer stated, this should be required reading by all Youth Ministers but I would take it a step further and say it should be required reading for the entire church body to remind of us of our mission. This is an easy yet moving read. Don't miss an opportunity to check this ou ...more
I think this story focuses a lot on the power of intentions...if you build it they will come sort of thinking. I believe in this power. If you speak something aloud, whether it be in prayer or just wishing on a star it is made more powerful. Our hero, David Wilkerson, is a preacher, so for him these good intentions were a gift from God and the Holy Spirit... to another it might be Allah or just good luck. Whatever you wish to call it, miracles happened. I say this book is more about the effect o ...more
Feb 02, 2012 Ronda marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Pastor David Wilkerson was my mother's pastor for 15yrs at 42nd St Church in Manhattan. I have heard this story for years but never read it.
Rosabel Dejesus
The cross and the switchblade is an amazing book. From the moment I picked it up I couldn't put it back down. It's a great book for teens who struggle with religion. It also shows how if you feel strongly about something and think it's your duty you can complete it. In this book David travels far from his home and his wife to New York where he feels god is calling him to spread his words to teens in gangs. David specifically focuses on gangs in Brooklyn. In the end David was not only able to win ...more
Overall, this book was an inspiring and page turning adventure. I enjoyed it immensely. The main theme (or one of them) was the undeniable power of prayer. Overall, I was fascinated by Wilkerson's story.

Pros: Inspiring, adventurous, educational and thoroughly gripping tale. Well written so that you can almost feel the dirt and grime of the city as you read through the pages. It is a story that will stick with you and inspire you to have faith - for after all, "with God nothing shall be impossibl
Lynda Newman
I read this a few times as a teen,made a real impression on me.
James Bunyan
It was fairly inspiring, in the sense that Wilkerson is a fairly ordinary pastor who just has a good idea to go to NY and serve the kids on the streets there and the book is the outworking of this idea.
It is short and there is more about the "Teen Challenge" charity than there is about work with street kids, although that was in itself interesting.
He is a raging Pentecostal and is therefore a bit mixed up in his theology, but passionate for Jesus and others, so not a bad one to lend out.
Nicola Mansfield
This is the inspiring autobiographical story of an evangelical minister's crusade to open a home for street, gang and drug involved teenagers of the late fifties and early sixties. His ministry succeeded and became Teen Challenge which still exists today. Wilkerson's story is touching and interesting especially from an historical view as to how these societal problems were first dealt with during this time period. The language is dated with the overuse of the words "dope" and "addict" also "Negr ...more
This is a book about hope and the power of God. It's a story about the mission that God's put on the author's heart to help inner-city youth in New York in the late 1950s--he connected them to God so He can help them with addictions and turn their lives around.

I love reading others' experience of witnessing the movement of God. It gives me hope when I encounter seemingly hopeless situations. It gives me the courage to pray for hope for my brothers and sisters who are also under the chain of add
I picked this up at a yard sale on a whim. All I knew was that it was written by the guy who started Teen Challenge. I know several people whose lives were turned around by TC, so I was interested in reading the story. Wow! I enjoyed this book much more than I expected to. I read it over the course of a few days. It was hard to put down. Written in 1962 (I think), it tells the story of the first 4 years of how David Wilkerson started the Teen Challenge ministry in Brooklyn, NY. What I loved most ...more
Radical Obedience Leads To Radical Impact!
This book has been around for quite some time (published originally in 1962) so I am probably one of the last people to read it. Even though it is an older book, I found it wonderfully refreshing and inspirational that David Wilkerson was such a pioneer at listening to God’s promptings and being radically obedient to his calling to help the inner city teenagers in gangs in New York City. When he followed God’s guidance, nothing short of a series of mirac
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David Ray Wilkerson was an American Christian evangelist, best known for his book The Cross and the Switchblade. He was the founder of the addiction recovery program Teen Challenge, and founding pastor of the non-denominational Times Square Church in New York.

Wilkerson's widely distributed sermons, such as "A Call to Anguish", are known for being direct and frank against apostasy and serious about
More about David Wilkerson...
The Vision Beyond the Cross and the Switchblade Set the Trumpet to Thy Mouth America's Last Call New Covenant Unveiled

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“What is it about tears that should be so terrifying? the touch of God is marked by tears...deep, soul-shaking tears, comes when that last barrier is down and you surrender yourself to health and wholeness” 42 likes
“You asked the Holy Spirit for a miracle, and now that you’ve got one you’re trying to argue it away. People who don’t believe in miracles shouldn’t pray for them.” 19 likes
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