I had just shared the Word at Times Square Church, the congregation in Manhattan pioneered by Pastor David Wilkerson. He and I had eaten supper and as we were walking back together, I wanted to ask him for counsel, as our church was due to open in several months. Pastor Wilkerson, the author of more than forty books, founded the Teen Challenge Centers that are bringing freedom to addicts all over the world. He began World Challenge, a Christian organization supporting missions around the world, as well as countless other ministries. In his later years, Pastor Wilkerson spoke in conferences to thousands of pastors face to face and is considered to be a man who truly marked our generation for God.
I was a bit nervous. Pastor Wilkerson was a very humble man, nice, kind and considerate, yet he was also extremely serious and very intense. I love, respect and admire him and am so grateful for all he has done for me and the work of God in the French world.
As I was walking with him through the crowded streets of New York City, lit as brightly as if it were daytime, I didn’t want to say the wrong thing. I finally got up the courage and just blurted out, “Pastor Dave, we are soon going to begin our church. Do you have a key, a piece of advice you would like to share with me? What I’m trying to say is, if there was one thing that I should do or that I should know, what would you say it is?”
I was astounded by his answer. He stopped dead in his tracks and began to say with amazing intensity and a burning passion, “You want to know what the key is? Do you really want to know?”
I answered him in a faltering voice, “Yes, sir, I really would like to know.”
All of a sudden, his expression and tone of voice changed, and his entire face lit up. Like a child who knows a secret, he said, “Find the poor! Give to the poor! Help the poor! Put your heart and your passion into helping people who will never be able to pay you back or do anything for you.” Then he paused for a second and with absolute joy, he added, “And then watch God bless you!”
“Blessed are those who help the poor” (Proverbs 14:21, NLT).
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.