I was lugging my trash-can out the other morning, just as the
garbage truck hove into sight. The two garbage collectors descended
from their august perch atop the big truck. They were very helpful
in aiding me with my household refuse. Then they paused long enough
to give me a little sermon.
‘Do you’ ns go to church? If you don’t attend any
church, you’re welcome to come down to ours on Tillman Avenue,
where Rev. Adams preaches.’
‘I’m mighty glad to know you go to church. I am an elder
in the Presbyterian church but I find that some of the best sermons
come over the radio,’ I replied.
I was quite reassured to know that we had Christian employees
serving us in the city sanitary department. This is the segment of
a city government that can often give hard times to their patrons
up and down the alleys often resulting in damaged trash cans,
spilled refuse and the like. But I felt we wouldn’t have
trouble with men who seemed concerned about my spiritual welfare.
They were kind and helpful in their suggestions as to just how to
get better service by packaging the refuse. They even offered, very
politely, to help me move my trash burner to the proper location,
if I so desired. But the thought that struck me most significantly
was that it was the very first time in my life I had ever been
proselyted in the Christian faith by a crew that manned the lowly
garbage truck. I noticed they worked in very close harmony with
each other. There was no rough, obscene language only kind, helpful
advice, a willingness to serve, plus a concern over my spiritual
True Christianity is popping up in the least expected circles
these days. No longer is the Divine Word a prerogative of
long-robed theologians preaching in plush carpeted sanctuaries to
colemnvisaged members in marble collegiate, high-spired edifices.
Christianity has now reached down into the gutter to lift up those
who never had heard its voice before. It’s transforming the
campuses, the long-haired addicts, the homeless ones who have
discovered that bombing and burning dormitories are not the
satisfying escape from life’s problems as they once
We have been reading ‘The Cross and The Switch-Blade’ a
book written by David Wilkerson. Wilkerson was a small town
preacher in Phillipsburg, Pennsylvania. But he kept getting the
urge to go and contact some of the gang leaders in the terrible
asphalt jungle that makes up a large portion of New York City
society. He didn’t even know how to drive in the Big City. He
had a terrible time of it, but he kept going back until he did make
some crude contacts with some of the murderous knife-wielding
gangsters who rule the outcasts of Gotham’s gutters. He was
often spit upon, slapped in the face, cursed and threatened by the
murderous, slashing switch-blade and the gas-pipe the two main
weapons of the big city gangs. He went into some of the dark, dingy
dens where pot-smokers were living at Hell’s portals. Yet he
spoke of Jesus as loving them. Several hard-core gang leaders
became converted and they, in turn, began helping the fearless
Davie to carry on his work. If a gang leader became a Christian, he
could influence those of his gang to attend the revival meetings.
The sermons were only fifteen minutes in length, but they were
packed with a Gospel of Love, showing these hapless, homeless ones
that there was One who cared for them.
David Wilkerson’s work has begun a movement of
rehabilitation among the hopeless ones which society has bypassed
for decades, worshipping in the established churches on the better
side of town.
Through several miracles of financial donations, David Wilkerson
succeeded in establishing a center for bringing back these hopeless
youth in a large residence, located on Clinton Ave., in the heart
of New York City. Through the power of prayer, preaching, kindly
understanding and counselling, his organization, with other
converted gang leaders helping, has reclaimed many lives from a
living death young people who have enlisted also in the work of
going out among the unwanted to tell them of a Savior. They never
had heard of love before, or of anyone caring for them. Most had no
home life in their tender years. To them it was survival by living
in gangs, fighting against the awesome fear of a society which
didn’t care, police whose only retaliation was hitting them
with clubs, or throwing them in jail. The Gospel of Love, when it
got through, transformed those who would listen. They came by the
hundreds to hear it, entire gangs, bringing their hard-faced girl
friends along to share a seat and hear the Word. When some of the
gang leaders became converted, they led the rest of the gang down
to the altar. They saw a new light. The light was good to their
seared souls. It offered hope, something they never knew existed in
their world before.
One can hardly realize what terrible things the gangs did. If
they weren’t murdering members of a rival gang, for pastime
they would take a pitiful, helpless cat and pull its legs off just
for ‘kicks,’ till something more exciting Game along to
At first only a few had their lives suddenly transformed.
Conversion had a miraculous way of snatching them from their awful
habits of smoking heroin, which David Wilkerson said is a life of
‘living Hell.’ The large Clinton Ave. Center used its
spacious rooms to aid these former victims of heroin back to
normal. Devoted Christian volunteers, along with former gang
members who had become Christians, devoted days, helping those who
came to sweat out the three days of ‘withdrawing’ from the
awful weed habits. They kept twenty-four hour vigils while the
patients shook and trembled, rolled and tossed, cried and retched
till the withdrawal period had been passed. It’s a terrible
experience of sacrifice, bringing the living dead back from the
gutter, but it has to be done. And no one can do it without having
the Christian love that goes the extra mile.
Sonny Cuesta came to our local schools to give many lectures.
Sonny is one of the reclaimed ones from New York’s gutters. He
is a Puerto Rican who was hopelessly victimized by
‘shooting’ heroin into his veins. Sonny had been to San
Quentin for murder. He could speak the language of New York’s
gutters. He had lived in it. He told the story how one day he lay
dying on a roof-top, breathing his last from heroin. He said,
‘When I lay dying, I wanted only one more minute of reality to
live and it was taken away. But I cried out, ‘Lord save
‘When I woke later the next day, I saw a beautiful woman
leaning over me. She was beautiful not like we think of in beauty
contests but she was beautiful with a look of love for me in her
eyes,’ said Sonny. ‘1 was nursed back from hell I’d
been living in. I began helping around the institution established
by David Wilkerson, trying to help others to come to Christ,
studying and praying. A new life had dawned on me.’
Sonny Cuesta went on to become a minister. ‘I have a new
life 1 have been made a new creature,’ he says.
The students in the many assemblies in our schools listened to
Sonny Cuesta without whispering a word. You could drop a pin in the
auditorium and hear it. The only sounds were Sonny Cuesta’s
wonderful words of how his terrible life had been re-made by Jesus.
These same kids would have been whispering and cutting up, had a
local minister been trying to tell them that there is a better life
for them. But they knew that Sonny Cuesta spoke the language of the
asphalt jungle and they didn’t want to miss a single word. The
Catholic schools attended with the Protestant schools all in the
same school auditorium. There was no division among ecclesiastical
‘I was naturally raised a Catholic,’ says Sonny, being a
Puerto Rican, although he is now a Protestant preacher in a mission
he has established in Dayton, Ohio, known as Life Anew.
Here it is that Sonny Cuesta is carrying on the very work which
David Wilkerson began in New York that of remaking the hopeless
derelicts and addicts into new creatures with the Christian
I listened to one of Sonny Cuesta’s sermons and received a
new insight how God is working in circles heretofore neglected as
social outcasts by our well-established churches. He was a
wonderful young man to meet. I looked into his clear eyes, and saw
not the murderer he once was, languishing in San Quenton Prison. I
did not see the sallow look of the heroin addict. He was a new
‘I’m happily married now,’ he said, and ‘I have
two children they are the delight of our lives.’
It was a wonderful feeling to give some money and realize it was
going to help others in re-making new lives. Heretofore, money I
gave to organizations, I often wondered how much of it might wind
up in secretaries’ pocket-books to be spent merely for some new
carpet to make a church more lavish without touching the needy. But
this money, I knew, would go for what God intended church offerings
to be used for remaking the hopeless into God’s image.
After we finished reading ‘The Cross and The Switch-Blade
‘ (a book I guarantee you can’t lay aside until you’ve
read it all), my wife and I began reading another book, ‘Run,
Baby, Run’ written by Nicky Cruz. Nicky Cruz was also one of
the early converts of David Wilkerson. He was a tough gang-leader
in the slums of New York. When the Rev. David Wilkerson approached
him to tell him of a new life Nicky Cruz spat on him, cursed him,
and drew a switch-blade to his throat. ‘Damn you, preacher if
you try to talk to me, I’ll cut you up and kill you,’
The preacher replied, ‘Yes, Nicky you could cut me up into a
thousand pieces, but every piece would say ‘I love you’ and
you couldn’t get away from that memory.’
Nicky Cruz became a convert and soon was helping Rev. Wilkerson
in leading his gang to the services and the altar. Nicky Cruz has
attended Bible School in California. Later he helped Rev. Wilkerson
at this rehabilitation center in New York. Nicky met a fine woman
at that Bible School, they married and are raising a fine family.
But Nicky had to spend many a day and night, helping by the bedside
of other gangsters who were going through the terrible drug
withdrawal, in his attempts to lead them to new lives.
Nicky Cruz now has his own rehabilitation center in California,
preaching the Word and pointing a new way to the hopeless, hapless
forgotten youth of his city.
If our nation is to survive the awful gang wars and the crime,
so rampant in our times, we must recognize and support these new
movements. They are the answer to what’s wrong with America
today. Reports are coming in that university students by the
hundreds, even thousands, are becoming converted to Christianity.
Standard University in California is rampant with hearing the new
Gospel Message. Many are having their lives changed from the
hopelessness of drug addiction to becoming constructive,
God-fearing citizens, bent on building America rather than tearing
her down. I’m sure the school children, and the school
situation even in our own local schools has been much benefited,
and many problems solved, merely by the sermons and lessons of a
one-time New York gangster who became a Christian.
‘You kids have it made,’ said Sonny Cuesta to a rapt
audience of Junior High students. ‘I never saw a horse or a cow
till I came to Ohio. Why, I even thought it was wonderful smelling
‘manure’ for the first time. You should see where I came
from. The hopelessness, the filth; gangs fighting one another. We
were all without love; we were all scared. That’s why we went
together in gangs. We were afraid to walk around singly. The gang
was the only kind of ‘home’ we knew. Our parents didn’t
love us. But you have parents who love you and send you to a fine
school and help you go to church every Sunday.’
‘Evil comes in ways we least expect,’ explained Sonny.
‘You read about dope peddlers looking sinister, like some
long-nosed villain as you see on the TV screens. Well, it isn’t
that way. The man who urged me to take my first puff of marijuana
was a friend of mine. I trusted him, and thought he wouldn’t do
anything to harm me. That’s how I got started on my life of
ruin, but Christ stepped in before it was too late. That’s how
I happen to be before you today.’
The Sonny Cuestas and others like him are saving our America
from ruin. They are re-making hopeless lives into good and useful
Christians. Many of our long-established churches has ignored that
such segments of our society ever existed.
Jesus told a parable that explains it. The lord of a household
once invited many guests to attend a wedding feast. But the invited
guests gave excuses, explaining they would not be able to attend.
So the lord of the household sent servants out into the hedges and
the by-ways and invited others who came and attended the feast.
Privileged folk have been invited to church for many, many years
now. But they keep giving excuses for not attending. So the Lord
has seen to it that the hedges and by-ways be searched, inviting
the lowly and outcast to partake of the Divine Feast. They are
coming because the Christian life has an uplifting power to make
things so much better than their former miserable lives. The
transformation is much greater than is wrought among the privileged
who’ve been ignoring the royal invitations.
From now on, my church money and tithing is going to the Sonny
Cuestas, the Rev. David Wilkersons and the Nicky Cruz’s who are
doing what the forces of law and civic order have failed to do
clean America up, not by billy-clubs but by the love of God, from
the sewers and gutters, the pot-pads and jails where love was never
For those of us who know not how to cope with such evils as
Christianizing big city gangs, it behooves us to help out with
needed funds those who do. Even those who suffer ill health, there
is hope, much more than one thinks.
Lately I have been studying the benefits of a product called
Lecithin (pronounced Less-i-thin). It is a derivitive from the
wonderful soybean. Lecithin was discovered by a chemist employed by
one of our large chocolate manufacturers. He said they used
Lecithin to emulsify the oil in the chocolate.
Discoveries have revealed that using Lecithin can get rid of
cholesteral in the blood vessels by mixing with it and flushing it
away. It can to that extent also prevent heart attacks. Not only is
it good to use in all cooking where oils are prevalent, but it can
be eaten as a cereal. It will reduce fatty bulges and seemingly
re-arrange these bulges more normally in the body. It rebuilds many
organs, and according to reports is one of the greatest blessings
to the whole human body.
Nutritionists have found out that by rubbing wheat germ oil
(Vitamin C) onto the face, wrinkles can actually be induced to
vanish, almost miraculously. Puncture a wheat germ capsule and
press the oil onto the skin, and rub it in. It is a miracle worker,
outside the body as well as within.
Recently I purchased a second-hand vegetable juicer (not a
blender). I have been juicing up many pounds of carrots, just to be
able to write what effects it has on the human system. Some people
say, ‘Oh, I eat some carrots every now and then, but get no
results.’ That’s not the case. When you run carrots through
a juicer, the cellulose fibres are ground up and thrown out,
leaving only the vital raw juices. Nutritionists claim the carrot
juice contains all the vitamins our body actually needs. If anyone
has ever tasted a glass of raw carrot juice, they will declare
there is nothing more refreshing or delicious. My wife prefers a
stalk or two of celery for added zest and nutritional benefits.
We have a lady in our Natural Food Club who was completely cured
of an ‘incurable’ cancer, and one of the main things she
took into her body was only carrot juice, ground out every day.
When I saw her at one of our meetings, she looked the picture of
health. Another lady, hopelessly given up by doctors, was cured of
cancer in fifty-two days by drinking only carrot juice. She did
hers the hard way, having no juicer, but grinding the carrots by
hand and pressing out the juice. But today she’s the picture of
health. The body needs vital foods to combat disease. Raw juices
are the very best way to get these vital foods.