It is with great sadness but also the assurance of God’s perfect will that we share with you the news that early Monday morning, January 23, David Virkler went to be with the Lord whom He loved and served so faithfully.
Dave had a mild stroke in October and had recovered well from that. While he was in the hospital, doctors discovered some blocked coronary arteries. He had open heart surgery on January 10 for a quadruple bypass. Dave had been improving following the surgery, but the Lord called him Home to be with Himself. Many, many people had been praying for Dave’s healing, and we believe that this is how the Lord chose to answer those prayers. His body is free of the weakness he had been working to overcome, his heart is completely healed, and he is experiencing the perfect rest of Heaven.
David Mark Virkler was born on May 30, 1934 in Baldwinsville, NY to Paul & Rachel Virkler. He was joined three years later by a brother, James. He grew up as a “farm boy” since his grandparents and parents were involved in agricultural endeavors.
Dave was raised in a Christian family where service for the Lord was prominent. He received Christ as his personal Savior at the age of 14. Between his junior and senior years of high school, the family moved to Succasunna, NJ when Dave’s father became the pastor of a nearby church. They continued to farm to supplement income.
After high school, Dave felt a call to serve the Lord in full-time ministry. He attended Northeastern Bible Institute where he majored in Bible and pastoral studies. On December 16, 1955, he married Thelma Axman, a fellow student. They received their diplomas in 1956. Dave later returned to Northeastern for a bachelor’s degree, which he received in 1986.
After graduation, Dave became the pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Montclair, NJ. The church ordained him to the Gospel ministry in 1957. Under his ministry, the church grew and experienced revival, but Dave felt a burden to challenge other churches to greater service for Christ and to do more to reach the lost. As a result, he founded Dedication Evangelism in 1961. Dave and Thelma moved to Towaco, NJ where the Lord provided a home and a ministry headquarters.
In 50 years of service with Dedication Evangelism, Dave preached the Gospel of Christ in churches, camps, conferences and retreats in 24 states, Canada, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Chile and Honduras. For over 47 years, he was the host and speaker on The Word And The World, a weekly radio broadcast focusing on current issues and events in a Biblical perspective. It is heard on 63 outlets reaching 14 states and Ontario, Canada. He also taught several classes in radio broadcasting over the years.
Along with Thelma, Dave led ten trips to Bible Lands, including Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Greece. He was the author of two books and several magazine articles along with many other print materials.
Dave served on the board of the Eastern Chapter of National Religious Broadcasters for over 30 years. He was also a member of the Board of Governors of Northeastern Bible College and a charter member of the Towaco Civic Association.
Among the special recognitions Dave received over the years were Alumnus of the Year from Northeastern, the Percy Award for faithfulness in broadcasting from the Eastern Chapter of NRB, the Return to Righteousness Award from the New Jersey State Chapter of Concerned Women for America, and the Patriotic Award from the Towaco Civic Association. He was also inducted into the Chapel on the Hill Missionary Hall of Fame.
In addition to preaching, Dave had other passions in life. He was an avid fisherman and an accomplished cornet player. He loved mechanics, singing, reading, anything to do with airplanes and making popcorn.
Dave loved his family, and he treasured time spent with them. His greatest joy was knowing that each one loves and serves the Lord: Gayle (Towaco), Sharon (West Palm Beach, FL), Lynda Justnes and her husband David (Pine Brook), Stephen and his wife CiDonna (Reading, PA), and grandsons Daniel (22), Timothy (19), Andrew (17) and Erick (13) Justnes and Noah Virkler (1).
As a goal for his life, Dave chose a description of King David from Acts 13:36: “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, and was laid unto his fathers…” Dave indeed served his own generation, but the impact of his life and ministry will continue in the lives of all who were touched by it.