In just a few short years, Pastor Zachery and Co-pastor Riva Tims, his wife of 15 years, grew their church of 5 to an astonishing 8,000- member congregation. But the pressure of their meteoric rise would eventually take its toll on their marriage, on their ministry, and on the life of pastor Zachery Tims.
Riva Tims has spoken very little about the events that lead up to the death of her ex-husband, until now. “I loved that he had a boldness about him. He wasn’t afraid. He was always thinking big… doing things grand. And that really pulled me in.”
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.
It also 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.”
Watch Riva’s Interview Below: