The faithful witness at Times Square


By Mark Ellis

She has been handing out tracts and witnessing for Christ almost every night for 41 years in the heart of Times Square.

Irma Moraes with writer


“In 1970 I started going out in the streets,” says Irma Moares, 84. “People would tear up my tracts and throw them in my face and call me dirty names,” she says. “Now they are nicer.” 

Times Square has changed dramatically since Irma began her missionary outreach. Much of the tawdry atmosphere characterized by sex shops, adult theaters and go-go bars departed in the 1990s, replaced by tourist-friendly stores, restaurants, and jumbotrons lighting the night sky ala Las Vegas. 

Many credit the diminished crime and the clean – almost Disney-like atmosphere – to political figures such as Rudy Giuliani, Ed Koch, and David Dinkins. Few are aware of a powerful Christian presence and the fervent prayers of believers like Irma behind the scenes, interceding for the city. 

“I prayed that God would send a good church to Times Square and Pastor David came,” Irma notes. She refers to David Wilkerson, the legendary evangelist, author and the founding pastor of Times Square Church, launched in 1987. 

Wilkerson received the call to Times Square when he walked down 42nd Street in New York after midnight. As he witnessed kids high on crack cocaine, pimps, prostitutes and runaways amid X-rated movie houses, he cried out for God to send someone. 

He was jolted by an unexpected reply. God wanted him to respond, a direct answer to Irma’s prayers. Under Wilkerson’s leadership, Times Square Church grew to an attendance of 8,000 with prayer and outreach to the disadvantaged a central component of their mission. 

Tragically, Wilkerson died April 27th in a head-on collision with a tractor-trailer in Texas. 

Irma loved Wilkerson and the vibrant church he led so many years. “I can’t understand why God took Pastor David,” she laments. “Send him back,” she says softly to God. 

Her working life was spent in the garment district as a dress designer. She arrived in the U.S. from Brazil in 1964. In a thick Portuguese accent, she describes her upbringing in a Christian family, who led her to receive Christ as a young girl. 

Irma has no family in the immediate area. “The church is my family,” she says. 

“I still go out to hand out tracts every night from 10 to midnight,” she notes. “I tried to take a day off, but the Lord said he wants me out here every night.” 

As she stands on a corner within a glance of the annual ball drop on New Years Eve, one could imagine an octogenarian might grow tired after witnessing every night for 41 years. “Yesterday I got tired,” she admits. Still, she doesn’t seem to want a Sabbath rest, maintaining that “God is my rest.” 

Irma is guided by the Holy Spirit in her interactions with the multitude of visitors and strangers who pass her by. “I am possessed by God so I don’t have to worry about what to say,” she notes. “It amazes me what I say sometimes.” 

“When you belong to God you don’t have to worry about anything,” she says. “Surrender to Him – He is perfect.”


  1. not generally discussed is Wilkerson’s death from driving on the wrong
    side of the road, not wearing a seat-belt. D.W. was also under questioning
    on aspects of his ministry, including women in leadership. your guess re.
    the crash??

    • Cyril:
      I hope that people would be more charitable to this wonderful man of God. All the good he has done throughout his lifetime and people are zeroing in on his not having his seatbelt on and driving on the wrong side of the road. Oh and the questions regarding the women in leadership? Let God be his Judge and just be grateful that because of David Wilkerson there are probably hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people whose lives have been eternally blessed by this Saint of God. When you are able to find perfection in your own life, perhaps then you might start raising these issues. Speaking for myself and regarding you, we all need to get the log out of our own eyes. I’m quite sure you are a lovely person, but hey, isn’t it written that “our rightousness is as filthy rags”? And that there is “none good, not one”. Jesus paid it all.

    • Good discussion point, Cyril. Should people be lauded for their good actions while their bad ones go underground? Do we throw out the good because of the bad? Or do we throw out the bad because of the good? Or, can they both exist together?

  2. What a great story, Mark. Great witness, beautiful woman of God!
    It doesn’t really make any difference if Wilkerson was wearing a seat belt or not, as referenced above. April 27th was apparently his God given expiration date, regardless of the details.

    • Yes, it was a great story!! In fact an awesome one. It just goes to show what a person can do when they are sold out to God. I’m 74 and it makes me realize that life doesn’t have to be over for me yet.
      My daily prayer is that I will be able to fullfill the plan God has for me as in Jeremiah 29:11 before I go home. I would love to hear God say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant. Welcome into the joy of the Lord.” I can well imagine that both David and this dear lady will hear those words. Who knows how many seeds this lady has planted in Times Square that are bearing fruit!!?

  3. What a marvelous woman of God. It is the quiet, unobserved servants of the Most High who are doing the grassroots legwork of building revival in the land. Bless her Lord!

    • I am fully convinced that those who will be closest to the throne of God in heaven will be the quiet, simple, obedient, faithful servants that go unrecognized here on earth.
      A very inspiring story.

  4. What a refreshing story of a faithful servant of the Lord. God bless Irma Moares for her faithfulness. Her dedication and love for the Lord and for souls inspires me and I hope many will follow her example.

  5. I just love hearing of and about the many fine street preachers and those that witness on the street of New York City.Talk about being very edifying and very encouraging to hear and see hundreds of people denying themselves and taking up their crosses;being very obedient servants of the living .It just brings so much joy to my me.Thank you so much for including this piece of very praiseworthy and very prayerful information.May almighty god continue to bless you both,from the inside out,from the crown of your heads to the soles of your feet.

  6. cyril: If you have something to say re D.Wilkerson, then SAY it. I cannot imagine him doing what you seem to infer.
    If Irma reads our comments: Go girl GO! Has God ever used you in healings or the Word of Knowledge etc., in your street ministry Irma? If not, ask Him to, then expect it and step out in faith, when the opportunity presents itself to you. I believe in Street Ministry, my pastor and I did it for years, with a little generator, keyboard, guitars, singing, testifying and preaching, he reckons he filled the church thru his street ministry!

  7. I praise God for Irma Moares!!! and I praise God for David Wilkerson!!! There will always be people working for the enemy who wants to steal, kill and destroy. Only those without sin (who have never failed to fasten their seat belts), are permitted to cast the first stone! I dare say David Wilkerson is now surrounded in heaven by thousands upon thousands of souls who now are forever in heaven because of his faithful work for his Lord and Savior. He is undoubtedly also surrounded by thousands upon thousands who have been won to Jesus Christ by the faithful efforts of Irma Moares! What more proof do we need.

  8. May the Lord continue to BLESS YOU, Irma, for your faithfulness!!!!!!!!!
    We are all inspired by your beautiful heart and may your testimony MOVE
    other Christ Followers to step out of their comfort zone and do whatever they have been called to do for the Kingdom!!!!!!! Time is running out!!!
    Your reward will be great!!!!!!!
    Awaiting His Return,

Comments are closed.