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Once a minister to street gangs, David Wilkerson fell from grace when he began to preach a nuclear Armageddon.
By Glenna Whitley |

On a cold late night in February 1958, a country preacher in Pennsylvania picked up a copy of Life magazine from the desk in his study. It was his prayer time and he was supposed to be on his knees, but he was restless. The magazine seemed to draw him. And, because he was a preacher, he look that as a signal: “God must have something he wants me to see in that Life magazine.” he thought. ▼ He picked it up and flipped to a pen-and-ink drawing of a sensational murder trial in New York City. The expressions on the faces of the seven Hispanic teen gang members accused in the vicious stabbing of a young polio victim were vividly captured by the artist. Around their eyes and mouths were etched fear, loneliness, defiance. The crime made his skin crawl with revulsion. But he couldn’t put the picture down. The divine dictum was clear: “You’ve got to help those boys.” ▼ David Wilkerson was thirty years old. He had never been to New York. In fact, he had never been much of anywhere outside Pennsylvania where he had grown up the son. grandson and great-grandson of Pentecostal preachers-men known not only for their devotion to God. but for fiery sermons that brought a whiff of brimstone to the nostrils of those in the pews. Wilkerson, who started preaching at age twelve, was becoming known as a bit of a hellfire man himself. His training, except for one year of Bible college, was strictly of the on-the-job variety. In five years, he had built his first church from fifty to two hundred members, not a small feat in the tiny town. Most were farmers who often paid their 10 percent tithes in butter and eggs.

The crime was loathsome, and Wilkerson had no desire to venture into that den of iniquity known as New York. His country congregation was sure to wonder if he had gone crazy. But Wilkerson had been trained from an early age to listen to messages from the Lord, however obscure. He had to get to New York City and do something for those boys.

What happened a few days later, on February 28. put Wilkerson on the front page of the New York Daily News and in wire stories across the nation. He had driven to New York and grabbed one of (he last seats in the courtroom. At the beginning of a recess, unaware that there had been a threat on the judge’s life, he rushed up to the bench, asking to see the defendants. Guards threw him bodily out of the courtroom into the waiting arms of police, who promptly arrested him. Reporters flocked around, eager for a new twist in a story that had been milked dry. A photo of Wilkerson, wild-eyed, handcuffed, and wielding a big Bible, took up two-thirds of the front page of the Daily News the next day.

He never was able to help those seven boys. Discouraged but undeterred from his divine mission, he hit the streets of Brooklyn, talking to other kids like the ones on trial and getting his first introduction to the easy sex, drug abuse, and violence of their world. To them, he was “The Preacher.” In the street world of “us-versus-them,” where “them” was the cops, Wilkerson, courtesy of his jail time, became “one of us.” To Wilkerson, as square as they came, that simple fact qualified as a miracle.

Wilkerson eventually gave up his comfortable country church for long days and nights on the sidewalks of New York, preaching on the streets, organizing crusades, and running a house where teens could come to get off drugs or just spend a few nights. He offered no easy solution to their problems: getting off drugs meant cold turkey, smoothing over trouble with the law meant confession. He founded a drug and alcohol treatment program, Teen Challenge, which now has chapters all over the world, including one in Dallas.

One of the goals of Teen Challenge has always been getting kids “saved” and “baptized with the Holy Spirit”-proof of which, for Wilkerson and his flock, is the ability to speak in tongues. Over the years, the program has garnered criticism and respect. Criticism, for its religious orientation and heavy emphasis on the work ethic: if participants don’t work, they don’t eat. Respect, for its high success rates, especially with heroin addicts. Wilkerson says it works because “people really want to believe in a persona God who loves them.”

His experiences in the asphalt jungle led to a book called The Cross and the Switchblade, a sort of West Side Story- meets -Jesus tale that became a 1969 movie starring Pat Boone as David Wilkerson and an unknown young hunk named Erik Estrada as Nicky Cruz, the hardened vice president of the Mau Maus, a street gang that sported satin jackets and walking canes and liked to “rumble.” Cruz was known as a vicious street fighter who would put a garbage can over his head and swing wildly with a baseball bat.

Today, almost thirty years after Wilkerson picked up that Life magazine, Nicky Cruz is a Christian evangelist traveling the world. The book, translated into forty-five languages (including Swahili), has sold more than 20 million copies. The movie, now dubbed into a dozen languages, is packed by missionaries carrying portable generators and projectors into unevangelized countries and shown on bed sheets stretched between two trees. “It’s the single most effective soul-winning too) we have,” says “Brother” John Gibson, spokesman for World Film International, which has the international rights to the film.

Wilkerson, now famous as a street-smart prophet, moved to Dallas in 1971 and in 1974 to Lindale, a town of 4,200, eighty-seven miles to the east. After the book was published, he became the darling of the fast-growing charismatic movement-those Pentecostals and members of other religious denominations who believe in the supernatural “gifts of the Holy Spirit,” among them divine healing, prophecy, “words of wisdom,” and speaking in tongues. Presidential hopeful Pat Robertson is a leader of the charismatic movement.

In those circles, Wilkerson was accorded the same respect and acclaim that other Protestants reserve for Billy Graham. He was invited to speak in the pulpits of the biggest churches, booked for the most prestigious rallies and crusades, wooed for Christian radio and television shows. Non-charismatic ministers respected him for his street work, and for the fact that he seemed to manage his finances well, unlike many big-time preachers. The secular media wrote stories and invited him on talk shows, where he spoke of God’s mysterious ways with the likes of Merv Griffin and Mike Douglas.

But something happened. The metamorphosis wasn’t sudden, but perhaps it was inevitable, given Wilkerson’s fiery ancestors. While he still has many supporters, others, taken aback by the turn his ministry has taken, claim he has leaped off the deep end. His books have been taken off the shelves in some church bookstores, and some pastors warn their congrega-tions against reading them. He is no longer welcome in a number of places where he formerly was trotted out as an example of success, Pentecostal style.

Wilkerson has taken up another role, one after the order of Jeremiah. Joel, and other great doom- and gloom-sayers of the Bible. He has become a prophet of the apocalypse. A nuclear holocaust is coming, he thunders. And it is headed straight for America.

SETTING UP AN INTERVIEW WITH A PROPHET IS NOT UNLIKE making an appointment with a North Dallas businessman. You call his meticulously groomed executive secretary, who answers the phone in a tastefully designed office, complete with Oriental rugs, leather wingback chairs, and bookshelves adorned with carefully chosen bric-a-brac. There, the similarity ends. The secretary explains that she’ll give Mr. Wilkerson the message, but right now he is in prayer and can’t be disturbed until he comes out, In two weeks. Eventually, the interview is set up.

To anyone who has seen Pat Boone’s laid-back performance as Dave Wilkerson in the film (he looks only mildly perturbed when a heroin addict comes at him with a butcher knife), it comes as a surprise that the fifty-eight-year-old Wilkerson is so, well, intense. His eyes glint behind aviator glasses with steel rims that match his graying hair. At about 5-foot-10. he’s slightly built, but his body is trim and taut.

His only hobbies are reading books, primarily the Bible, and preparing sermons. However, he is no ascetic, as witness his Italian shoes. Wilkerson also has an appreciation for fine automobiles-he has owned several expensive cars, including a bright red Mercedes-Benz.

In person, his voice is quietly aggressive-he seems to will you to listen to him. But in the pulpit, he’s what is known in preacher parlance as a screamer. His voice, which retains a Pennsylvania twang, starts quietly but quickly builds to a sustained raspy shout. He prowls the stage, occasionally pounding the pulpit for emphasis.

While very polite and attentive, he seems incapable of small talk, apparently refusing to litter the air with pointless remarks just to make someone feel at ease. Rather than make conversation, he makes pronouncements. Some examples: “I think Robert Schuller [a TV evangelist] is the number one false prophet in America today.” ’”We’ve created an ail-American Jesus: he likes the Cowboys, drinks wine, and everything’s fine.” The impression is of a man who knows exactly what he thinks about every possible issue-and finds little room for compromise.

FRANK REYNOLDS MET WILKERSON SOON AFTER his photo hit the front pages in New York. Pastor of an Assembly of God church on Staten Island, he began working with Wilkerson shortly thereafter. Today, he is the head of the Teen Challenge organization in America. Wilkerson is no longer officially affiliated with Teen Challenge. Preferring preaching to administration, he left the organization for others to run in the late Sixties.

Reynolds’s first impressions of Wilkerson were borne out in years of working together. “He was impetuous.” says Reynolds. “We were all mavericks; you’d have to be to do what we did. working primarily with gangs who were killing each other with chains and zip guns. But he was so intense on the streets-absolutely fearless.”

That fearlessness and intensity were effective on the street, but often led to misunderstandings in more conventional surroundings. “There are a lot of people who think he’s not a warm, caring person,” says Dallas Holm, a singer who worked with Wilkerson for ten years. “That’s not true. But in his early years, he was so single-minded, it was hard for him to listen to other people’s ways of doing things.”

While the intensity is still there, Holm and Reynolds say that Wilkerson has mellowed. “He’s learned to relax and probably has become a better listener, more willing to learn,” says Holm. Reynolds says: “I don’t think he makes the quick judgments he used to make.”

Holm attributes much of the change to the health problems Wiikerson’s family has faced. Two of his four children have had serious illnesses, and his wife Gwen was afflicted with lupus and has had numerous operations for cancer. “Those times of suffering develop character,” Holm says.

But. lest it sound as if Wilkerson is ready for a rocking chair at a home for old preachers, Reynolds points to Wilkerson’s current work as a Jeremiah for the Eighties. “He’s never been afraid to try something different. He’s a prophet-type person, and if you read the Old Testament, you’ll find that prophets are considered crazy. They don’t fit the mainstream.”

Indeed, Wilkerson seems to delight in being the iconoclast, the burr under the church’s saddle, the man marching to a heavenly drummer. But it’s also clear that his life, for all its success and satisfactions, has had its setbacks and disappointments as well-perhaps brought on himself to some extent by his unwillingness to compromise, his unrelenting demand for piety. Neither trait is rewarded by a secular society, or the religious establishment. for that matter.

After a brief introductory meeting, Wilkerson offers to give a visitor the grand tour. “I’ll take you over to see my idol,” he says. He turns the custom van onto the highway just outside Lindale. As he drives, he talks about what brought him to Texas.

At the end of the Sixties. Wilkerson left the streets and turned his attention to city-wide crusades. His fame filled arenas with people eager to hear about his work. It was the height of the Jesus Movement, when many young people were turning to religion, disillusioned about drugs and the power of social protest. During a crusade at a church in Fort Worth in 1969, he found and hired Holm, then a twenty-three-year-old singer and youth minister and today one of the stars of the contemporary Christian music industry. Holm would sing to get the audience in the right mood, then Wilkerson would preach. For Holm, whose ministry had been confined to small churches and jails, the abrupt change was a shock.

“All the sudden, overnight. I’m in New York City working within an intense environment, with an intense individual,” Holm says. “He was making the transition from the street ministry to crusades. I’d be on stage in front of 5,000 people. On weekends, we’d have street meetings in the Bronx. There were literally hundreds of thousands of young people on the streets: runaways, drug addicts, gangs. Someone was trying to sell you drugs on every street corner.”

In 1970, they moved to California, jetting across America to preach in five different cities in as many nights. But an embarrassing affliction threatened to destroy David Wilkerson’s ministry: after three near-accidents, he developed a terrible fear of flying. That fear brought him in 1971 to Dallas-not only the buckle of the Bible belt but centrally located so that a converted Trail ways bus and driver could take him to any speaking engagement in the country in a few days, He still must fly overseas occasionally, but it is an ordeal.

His phobia clearly embarrasses him, but he shrugs and says good-naturedly, “Jesus said, ’Lo, I am with you always.’” He grins and skims his free hand low. parallel with the seat of the van. revealing a buried sense of humor. Then he turns into the drive leading to his “idol’-the Twin Oaks Ranch.

Dotted with eight small lakes, the rolling hills, lush green grass, and the neat, wooden post fence suggest a carefully tended horse ranch. Formerly a catfish farm, the 400-acre spread is dotted with thirty homes, a Bible school, a gymnasium, and an ersatz western village, home to a sandwich shop, the laundry, and other offices, all built by Wilkerson and his organization. He bought the property after several years of living in North Dallas, battling the traffic and noise. Purchasing the ranch fulfilled a lifelong fantasy. “I had a boyhood dream of having a ranch in Texas for boys,” Wilkerson says. He and Gwen built a lovely home atop a hill overlooking one of the lakes.

Today Twin Oaks is home to Youth With A Mission, a missionary organization. Wilkerson sold it to YWAM five years ago for a fraction of its worth, estimated at $5 million, walking away from his dream as he had walked away from the church he built up twenty-five years ago. “God clearly showed me I had to give it up,” he says. “I was taking too much time with it. I spent more time with the architects than I did with the Lord.”

He now lives on a nearby thirty-acre tract, the home office of his World Challenge organization. From a two-story Tudor-style office with burglar bars on the windows, Wilkerson writes his books. The count is up to thirty-seven, “I shouldn’t have written five or six of them,” he says. “I needed the funds, but there was no mandate from God.”

When he did get a mandate in April 1973, it was a doozy: a supernatural vision of calamities that were about to befall humankind, specifically in America, in what he calls “an acceleration of end time events.” No blinding lights, no angels, no voices-just vivid pictures. He wrote it down in a book called The Vision.

Most charismatic ministers are considered to have the “gift of prophecy” at one time or other, but The Vision marked Wilkerson’s first official foray into the realm of prophecy. He says the book and other statements he has made are prophetic, but denies that he is a prophet. “I’m a watchman. I see the enemy at the gate.”

Wilkerson’s prophecies, like those of most of his ilk, were tantalizingly vague: broad enough to impress those inclined to believe him while leaving skeptics unconvinced. The catastrophic events, given no specific dates but pegged for “the near future,” included rampant inflation, a roller coaster ride for prices of precious metals, bankruptcy for some large U.S. corporations, and union busting by the government. He also “saw” millions of deaths by famine in Africa, financial ruin for many American farmers, and an explosion of pornography.

Considering the past decade with its runaway inflation, the PATCO strike, the Hunt brothers’ pursuit of the world’s silver supply and whatnot, believers eager for a map of the future could find ample landmarks in The Vision. But according to Dr. Norman Geisler, professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, the Biblical standard for a prophet is perfection, not occasional or even frequent accuracy. Geisler believes that God stopped using men as prophets after the first century, but says that if the Lord did enlist Wilkerson, no less than 100 percent accuracy would be acceptable. The penalty in the Old Testament for missing even one prediction was stiff-death by stoning. Thirteen years after The Vision was published, Geisler says, it looks as though Wilkerson has missed on some big ones.

He prophesied that America would suffer the worst earthquake in its history; that all but a few religious radio and television programs would fail; that American food reserves would be exhausted; that marijuana would be legalized; and that roving mobs of homosexuals would publicly assault people on the streets. So far. on these prognostications, Wilkerson is 0-5.

Wilkerson will not comment on the apparent misses. After an initial three-hour interview, he declined further comment, saying through his secretary, “I have nothing to say to the secular press.”

Geisler says that Wilkerson is a sincere, committed Christian. “But making predictions like this is dangerous and unbiblical. My main objection as a student of Biblical prophecy is that the Bible clearly forbids date-setting in regards to end times. As far as I’m concerned, it’s an embarrassment when people stop studying prophecy and begin prophesying.”

Though The Vision unnerved some of Wilkerson’s followers, in some ways it increased his popularity. While prophecy is fascinating to many (“psychic” Jeane Dixon knows this well), it seems to hold a special appeal for charismatics. Preachers know that holding a church service on the prophecies about the second coming of Christ in the book of Revelation is sure to pack ’em in. And the popular fundamentalist belief in a “rapture”-the evacuation of Christians from the earth before the big stuff really hits-provides reassurance lest the predictions get too scary. Wilkerson sold and gave away hundreds of thousands of copies of the book and went on radio and TV shows to discuss it. All was well.

Until, in the words of the old Baptist joke, he stopped preachin’ and got to meddlin’.

He started denouncing singers of contemporary Christian music for singing rock ’n’ roll music born “from the womb of Satan.” And complaining that charismatics spent too much time banging tambourines and not enough on their knees. And predicting that popular television evangelists Rex Humbard, Oral Roberts, and Jim Bakker of the FTL network would have to abandon their TV shows. Today, all three are facing serious financial difficulties.

“Religious TV should be shut down,” he says. “I love them. I want the Lord to release them from that burden. How can ministers build all these huge houses, swimming pools, and choo-choo trains?” [The last refers to Heritage U.S.A. Bakker’s Christian Disneyland.]

Wilkerson began going on radio shows and talking about Christians throwing away their television sets, calling TV an “idol” and a “Babylonian idiot box.” He charges: “If it’s not an idol how come all our furniture faces it? Why do we eat in front of it?” Two years ago, he and his staff gathered $20,000 worth of their TVs, blew them to bits with shotguns, then buried them with bulldozers. (Simply selling the sets was unacceptable, he savs, because that would lead others astray.)

Ministers who supported Wilkerson in the past began to back away, saying things like, “Yes. but there needs to be a balance.” That elicits nothing but contempt from David Wilkerson. “Balance is a code word for a divided heart,” he says. “Jesus called us to fanaticism.”

Wilkerson’s statements began to alienate not only followers but friends. His statements on rock music left former associate Dallas Holm feeling defensive toward his fans. Holm, who is now in his own ministry, says his music is basically middle-of-the-road contemporary, but the sound has become more rock-oriented in recent years. While he agrees with many of Wilkerson’s other pronouncements and says they still are good friends, he does not consider his music “from the womb of Satan.”

“I simply don’t believe that,” Holm says. “I believe it was inspired by God. It’s a style of music he has never liked, nor does he have to. It’s put us in a position of having to defend something we shouldn’t have to defend.”

The chill really set in with the 1985 publication of Set The Trumpet to Thy Mouth, in which Wilkerson hammered at sin and cried for repentance-not only for the people outside the church, but the people in the pews. America is heading for nuclear holocaust because of its immorality, he wrote, laying much of the responsibility on the doorstep of the American church, which he claims has been co-opted into the world despite Christ’s teaching to be separate and holy. He identified America as the “’Babylon” of Revelation prophecy, a theory not shared by most Biblical scholars.

“Babylon is a theological term for the harlot church and the system of government that has forgotten God,” he says. “We’ve corrupted the whole world system with our money. The charismatic movement is in need of repentance. We don’t deal with sin. We don’t cry out for righteousness. The only way God can break us is with a hammer.”

Wilkerson believes that hammer will be forged in Moscow, He even gives the military strategy and duration of the nuclear Armageddon, writing that America will be completely destroyed in one hour after a first strike launched over the North Pole by the Russians, with no American missiles ever leaving their silos. Again, no dates, just “sometime in the near future.”

Scary stuff, but even that prediction might not have seriously undermined his popularity among the faithful. After all. there’s still the rapture.

It was the rest of the book that realty got him in hot water. A special measure of his fiery ire was reserved for those he calls “pillow prophets.” charismatic ministers leaching what is known as the “prosperity gospel.” Their message, in a nutshell: God wants you to be prosperous; speak only positive things and He will give you health and wealth; negative words and thoughts bring negative results.

This teaching is at the heart of one of the fastest-growing segments of the charismatic movement. It is perhaps best exemplified in the teaching of one of Dallas’s largest charismatic churches, Word of Faith, which has clones popping up across the country courtesy of satellite. Pastor Bob Tilton. who has a daily radio and TV show called ’”Success In Life,” urges his flock to shoot for the best of everything. {Tilton did not return phone calls to comment on Wilkerson’s charges; nor did ministers of several of Dallas’s other major charismatic churches who follow this brand of theology.)

“Some people call this ’name it and claim it,’” says David Reagan. “I call it ’blab it and grab it.’” Reagan is director of the Lamb and Lion Ministry in McKinney and a charismatic who has a doctorate in international law and politics. He thinks Wilkerson is right on target.

“He’s a voice crying in the wilderness,” he says. “He has come down on them for wallowing in materialism, for being corrupted by their own success. He holds their feet to the fire. And because of it. he has grown increasingly unpopular. There are a lot of Pcntecostals and charismatics who wouldn’t touch him with a ten-foot pole or invite him to speak in their churches. The movement is now dominated by success-oriented hucksters selling prosperity. He’s strongly criticized them for building big churches and pandering to people’s greed. They’re embarrassed by him. He has ceased to be their darling.” The “name it and claim it” adherents also see Wilkerson’s criticism of America as heresy, “In their eyes,” Reagan says, “America does no wrong. They wrap themselves in the flag as well as the Bible.” Wilkerson’s foes even accuse him of actually contributing to the possibility of a nuclear holocaust, helping to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. “Among Word of Faith people, you get what you speak,” Reagan says. “Anything you say must be positive.”

Wilkerson says criticism doesn’t faze him. “I don’t answer my critics anymore. I have a letter from the pastor of one of the biggest Assembly of God churches in America calling me the world’s biggest doomsayer. I spoke at a Dallas church and heard that a couple of days later the pastor said. “Now don’t be discouraged at Brother Dave’s hard words. It’s a phase he’s going through.” I see my reputation going all the way down, except among a remnant.”

Despite the bookstores that closed their doors to him, Set The Trumpet to Thy Mouth was one of the top-selling Christian books of 1985. And he estimates that about 20,000 pastors and their wives will attend his “Call to Repentance” seminars held throughout the country this year. The high-decibel message, in short, is: watch out. you’ll be left behind if you persist in your (pick one or more): pride, adultery, greed, envy, malice, etc. One seminar in Dallas was attended by more than 500 men and women.

“’We’ve discovered a spirit of lust in the ministry.” says Wilkerson. “And there’s a real problem with pornography.”

He speaks from experience, at least about the lust. It started five years ago, after his wife had had six operations for cancer. “Gwen couldn’t be a wife to me so I wanted her dead.” Wilkerson says bluntly. “I didn’t commit adultery but I allowed a spirit of lust to develop. I’d go preach to thousands and go home and cry because I was a phony.” Illness also hit others in his family: one daughter had an operation for cancer; doctors suspected a son had the disease.

“When you have sin in your life, wars break out everywhere,” Wilkerson says. “One night, Gwen was in the hospital and 1 was in a hotel. I just felt woe. woe, woe is me. But I felt God’s love. He assured me she was going to be healed. I went to the hospital and she was dressing to go home. She said, ’I’ve been healed.” All I know is from that time on, God has given me a heart to seek him. He has not let my enemies prevail against me.” Shortly after that experience, he began planning the repentance seminars.

Geisler says that Wilkerson’s preaching on repentance is nothing new to the church. “Billy Graham has been doing that for years,” he says. “But when you say the world’s going to end tomorrow and you better repent-that’s using scare tactics.” Geisler also disputes Wilkerson’s interpretations of Biblical prophecy to buttress his prediction that America will be destroyed. Many are taken out of context, he says.

Reagan, an ardent Wilkerson supporter, says Wilkerson’s Pentecostal roots really began showing when he started the repentance seminars. “[In Pentecostalism| holiness is often based on external appearances. For example with TV; instead of saying be a responsible viewer, he’s saying chop it up. That’s not something I agree with.”

In addition to the seminars, Wilkerson is concentrating on his work overseas, where he is known as the author of The Cross and the Switchblade, not as a controversial prophet. In early 1986, he spent three weeks in Poland at what he claims was the request of the Polish government. (This could not be verified.) He says the book is required reading in some Polish high schools.

“There’s such a problem with alcohol and drugs, mostly glue sniffing, in Poland and all the Iron Curtain countries,” he says. “They can’t do anything about it, so they’ve called on the church.” In Poland, that usually means the politically powerful Roman Catholic Church. But Wilkerson says charis-matics are making inroads there.

Wilkerson is plotting a change that might surprise everyone but Nicky Cruz and Israel and Little Jo-Jo, the gang members from The Cross and the Switchblade. After fourteen years in Texas, he is negotiating the purchase of a theater on Broadway in New York City. This fall, he plans to return to (he streets, working with his son Gary out of the theater. His headquarters will remain in Lindale.

In a sense, Wilkerson has never really left the streets. He spends several weeks each summer working in ghettos of major cities. “I still preach on the streets and that’s my favorite ministry,” he says. ?There’s a reality there. It strips you of all pretension.”

But almost surely he will continue to preach the coming apocalypse. He’s not washing his hands of America, but he believes that it is unlikely that its nuclear destruction will be avoided. When it occurs. he plans to be in the middle of a sermon or witnessing to a hooker on a New York street corner. He doesn’t think it will be long now.

“When Reagan’s gone, that’s it. Egypt is going into bankruptcy, Mexico is going to default and Brazil will follow. Banks here will fail. We’re going to see a tremendous acceleration of crisis. Now it’s one a month. Soon it will be one a week, then one a day.

“The prophetic stage is set. It could be anytime; 1996 is the end of the 6,000-year period, if you believe literally in the scripture that the world was created in six days. I used to not believe that, but now I do.” He stops and ponders a moment.

“It doesn’t matter to me how I go. A meltdown is the same as a rapture.”