The Cross and the Switchblade was a movie made in 1970 and it is based on a true story. Pat Boone starrs as David Wilkerson and Erik Estrada plays the part of Nicky Cruz. David Wilkerson, the Pastor of a mega church in Times Square, was called by God to start a ministry among the gangs in New York City. Nicky Cruz was a leader of a gang who finally committed his life to Christ. David Wilkerson is credited with starting a program called Teen Challenge, which is a rehabilitation facility for drug addicts and gang members. This program has changed many lives. For several people, they had a choice of either going to jail or going to Teen Challenge. Fortunately, many chose Teen Challenge and today they are serving God and also bringing the good news of Jesus to other gang members.
The movie is violent and explicit since it does portray gang life. The members use mild language though. It was shot right in the areas of New York City where David actually went and there are scenes right from where gang members live and hang out. There is plenty of drug, prostitution and sex activity throughout the movie. To make this effective, these parts needed to be shown.
David Wilkerson went right among these gang members, but he was protected by God since he had a calling on his life. It was not easy though. There were times when David was afraid but he knew that God was with him. He knew that any one of them could have killed him at any time. In fact, Nicky Cruz wanted him dead because he could not stand him. He did not want to hear anything about God. When he first met David, he slapped him in the face and spit on him.
David decided to hold a gang rally at a local arena. Two gang groups showed up including Nicky Cruz and his group. These groups sat on opposite sides but at one point while David was speaking, both groups got up and were ready to fight right in the arena. All of a sudden, Nicky stopped everyone and said, “Didn’t you all hear what the preacher said? There has been enough fighting and killing.” He went up to David and told him that he was going to give his life to God from that point on. While Nicky was on stage talking to David, the leader from the other gang came up behind him and stabbed him in the hand. Somehow Nicky got the knife away from him and held it up to the gang leader’s chest. He said I can kill you right now or give you back the knife. He said, I am going to give you back the knife. Everyone in the place realized that Nicky was a changed person from that point on.
Today, David Wilkerson and Nicky Cruz continue their ministries in New York City and in California spreading the love of Christ to the lost.