In a live worship service attended by Riva Tims and Paula White, members of New Destiny Christian Center called on God Monday night to bring strength and healing after the Florida megachurch lost Zachery Tims, its senior pastor.
Calling on God for “strength and healing," members of New Destiny Christian Center held an emotional and stirring meeting where several members of the church and the general Christian community spoke about their experience with Pastor Tims.
Among those in attendance was Tims’ ex-wife and the mother of his four children, Riva Tims.
Tims approached the pulpit as everyone in the packed room stood and applauded the former first lady of NDCC.
“Zachery’s death may have caught us by surprise, but it has not taken God by surprise,” Riva Tims, holding back tears, told the packed room of members and supporters.
“And God saw fit that we would have an opportunity to spend a few days together with him. He was able to fellowship with his sons and his daughters,” she continued, revealing that she and Pastor Tims, their four children, and Pastor Tims’ mother had recently traveled together to Puerto Rico.
“God is a good God,” she continued. “And just as Dr. Zach and myself and our children got together, that is the heartbeat of God. He’s looking for one body, not individual groups… He’s looking for us to come together as one body… to advance the kingdom of God.”
Riva Tims told the NDCC congregation, “I stand before you tonight in all humility with the power and grace of God and also with the spirit that Zach left behind to press on and not give up.”
Before leaving the pulpit, Riva Tims encouraged church members to keep on keeping on. “You got to go through (the fire),” she said. “We’re going to go through and we’re going to make it. We’re going to come together as one body. I love you.”
The room exploded in applause and praise as Tims left the pulpit.
Paula White, pastor of Without Walls International Ministry in Tampa, also attended Monday’s service at NDCC.
White often called Tims her spiritual son.
“It is my greatest honor to be able to stand here and minister to you,” White said to the NDCC congregation.
“I received a phone call yesterday that was very difficult. I didn’t feel like praising God, I felt like crying. But, I said, no, my son Pastor Zach would have a fit,” she said.
“New Destiny, I know it’s difficult. I know we will grieve. I know we will mourn… but we will bless the Lord at all times,” White said to a room full of applause.
Of Pastor Tim White said, “He imparted to us greatness, courage, gifting, destiny…”
White left off telling the NDCC church family not to give up. “We have a job to do for Jesus. Purpose will prevail,” she said, blessing the church as she left the pulpit.
Jamal Bryant, pastor of Empowerment Temple in Baltimore, Md., also took to the pulpit.
Bryant called on those gathered at NDCC to remember their pastor.
“This is the man that has been feeding you when you were getting ready to go crazy. That loved you when you didn’t love yourself. That stuck with you when he was falling apart. This is your pastor. I don’t have words of comfort," Bryant said.
“We are at the wailing wall," Bryant added. "We crying cause we mad. We don’t’ understand. I’m frustrated. I’m trying to keep it together.”
Wanda Robinson, a minister at NDCC closed out the night's service.
“He shall be greatly missed by his family, church family, and the entire body of Christ across this world," Robinson said of Tims. "He truly was one of God’s generals of the Christian faith and a mouthpiece to all the nations."
“He’s with Jesus," she added.
Robinson said she believes that if Tims could send a text message from heaven, he would tell the NDCC family to “keep going forward, keep praising God, keep loving one another, keep preaching the word of God."
At the close of Monday's service, many congregants rose from their seats and embraced one another.
Zachary and Riva Tims founded the 8,000-member NDCC in 1996.
When the pair divorced in 2009, Riva Tims left the church to found her own ministry, Majestic Life Ministries.
Pastor Tims was found dead by cleaning staff in his room at the W Hotel in New York City around 6 p.m. Friday.
The Florida preacher was reportedly found with an envelope of white powder in his pant pocket. Police have yet to verify if the substance was an uncontrolled substance, such as cocaine or heroin.
Police have ruled out foul play and have no plans to launch a criminal investigation.
An autopsy conducted Saturday failed to provide any clues as to what may have killed Tims, 42. Results of toxicology tests were pending.
Tims, who often appeared on TBN’s “Praise the Lord” program, was reportedly in New York for a meeting.
According to his biography on NDCC’s website, Tims had a troubled youth before he was “miraculously saved, instantly delivered from drug addiction, and called into ministry.”