Zachery Tim’s mysterious death last summer still reverberates through ministry. It has led to more intrigue than one can imagine. Before Christmas we heard the strange discussions and placements of his churches new leader Paula White. There is the heated court battle over his autopsy still in New York state court. Now, comes the first hand account from his former wife Riva Tims, who is surely going to blow the top off the secrecy surrounding his demise with her new book.
Zachery and Riva were 22 when they first met at church. With a shared passion to win souls to Jesus they married and shortly thereafter ventured out to start a ministry in Orlando, Florida. “We labeled ourselves an outreach ministry. So our whole goal was to pull people in from the street, not to pull them from other churches, but really to get those that were unsaved. And I think the people felt our love, they felt our sincerity, and we were young. We had a lot of zeal for the Lord, a lot of excitement.”
“If God said, ‘Go on TV.’ we had the faith to do it. If God said, ‘Go into the community,’ we just had the faith to do it.”
But as church membership grew at an astonishing rate so did their stature in the church world. “It becomes an empire. It becomes your own name that’s highlighted. And it becomes about you when that’s never how it’s supposed to be. Everything ought to point to Jesus! Everything ought to point to the Lord.”
“And if you’re not careful, they’ll begin to worship you more than they worship God.”
“In the beginning it did not affect us. He used to put on the back wall, HUMILITY, a huge sign. So every time he preached he would see that. But then when we moved to our last building, and TV, you know, we were on national television people were calling all the time, it started to infiltrate the church.
And began to interfere in their marriage.
“There was somewhat of a distance that began to take place. I could still connect, but I knew that there was something different.”
“The travel – When he began to travel a lot and wouldn’t allow me to go. Then I knew something was wrong.”
“It was always a reason why I couldn’t go. That’s when I knew.”
“I found out that there was infidelity.”
“In the beginning he was remorseful he got caught. And that’s the part that hurt. There was no running after me, coming after me. He was trying to keep everything together.”
“My heart hurt. Not just in a spiritual way, not just in an emotional way, but a physical way. And I didn’t realize that people hurt that badly.”
“But the Lord told me, ‘Hold your peace.’ That was the hardest thing you could ever do, to hold your peace when you get accusations, you know, ‘Well, you’re just weak.’ God said, ‘Hold your peace.’”
“I loved my husband. And church belonged to God. I wanted my husband. And I wanted my family. If that meant that we had to sit down or step away from the pulpit for a season, I was willing to do that. But that’s not how, when you’re in a mega-ministry.”