“But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”  Acts 1:8 AMP

I was re-reading parts of the book The Cross and the Switchblade this morning. 

This is the story of Pastor David Wilkerson who founded the Christian recovery ministry known as Teen Challenge.

Since the events described in the book took place in the late 1950s and early 1960s, some today may not know the story.  David Wilkerson was a young Pentecostal pastor from a pleasant, small town in Pennsylvania, who, after seeing pictures of teen age gang members on trial for murder in New York City, felt God ask him to go to that area and help those young men.

David went to New York City, and despite being inept and naive at times, and without money at the front end, with God’s help, he established a place for young men and women to come and have their lives saved.

David accomplished this solely through God’s help.  He prayed.  He found young seminary students to help him with the work.  He received funds miraculously through wealthy donors.

With God’s miraculous acts, young gang leaders were converted through street corner evangelism, television ministry, and eventually in meetings at the Teen Challenge Center.

But, David realized they were falling back into drug usage more than he would like.  Addiction is a horrible slave master that traps the body and the mind.  David came to realize that two steps beyond being taught about Christ and agreeing to be His disciple were the answer.

The thing that really helped the young people to be truly free was being taught about the Holy Spirit and receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and then living, guided by the Spirit.

The Transformation From the Holy Spirit

Here is a little about this powerful, transformative experience in David Wilkerson’s own words:

“From the beginning of Christianity, then, this baptism of the Holy Ghost has had a special significance because it marks the difference between the mission of a mere man, no matter how bold and effective, and the mission of Christ:  Jesus would baptize His followers with the Holy Ghost…

It was foretold by John [the Baptist], promised by the Father and experienced at Pentecost.  I’m sure you’ve noticed the vast change that took place in the apostles after this experience.  Before, they had been timid and powerless men.  Afterwards, they did receive that power that Christ spoke about.  They healed the sick, cast out demons, raised the dead.  The same men who had hidden themselves at the crucifixion went on after this experience to stand up to the hostile world with their message.”

Continued Sobriety After the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

What David saw, along with his seminary students, is that their teen addicts could detox and get physically free with suffering (vomiting, chills, cramps, etc) relatively easily.  Believing in Jesus would set them right for a while, but without the glorious inward change that comes from the baptism, they were not strong enough to resist temptations and triggers forever.


More of David Wilkerson’s realization about the baptism of the Spirit

Nicky Cruz’s preaching (Nicky was a healed addict)

Who the Holy Spirit is, What He does

How To Receive the Baptism of the Spirit

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