Supporters and fans of Zachery Tims, the Florida megachurch pastor found dead with a substance believed to be drugs in his pocket, are calling for caution and warning naysayers about judging Tims.
Sources close to the investigation involving Tims' death have told news agencies that the pastor, discovered dead Friday, August 12, in a room at the W Hotel in Times Square, had a small glassine envelope containing white powder in his pants pocket.
Supporters of the former head of New Destiny Christian Center (NDCC) have been calling for caution, while others have been shaking their heads over the possibility of another megachurch leader allegedly being caught doing wrong.
Tims, who battled drug addiction before coming to Christ, penned a book in 2006 about growing up in Baltimore, Md. and getting involved with gangs and selling drugs.
In his book, It's Never Too Late, Tims thanks Jesus Christ for saving him and for using his life as a testimony to let others know that "God is in the recycling business and can change a messed-up life and make it beautiful."
According to his biography on NDCC’s website, Tims was “miraculously saved, instantly delivered from drug addiction, and called into ministry.”
Tims, along with former wife Riva Tims, founded New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Fla., in 1996. Tims led the church for 15 years before his death last week.
"At the age of 14 I shot a man and tried to kill him. I was locked up till I was 16. I was a drug addict till I was 19," Tims shared during a July 12 broadcast on TBN.
Tims said God took him out of the gutter and turned his life around. "I'm a living witness [that] it is never too late," he said.
However, some visitors to NDCC's Facebook page have been questioning if the Florida minister had indeed been living a changed life.
Officials have not yet determined whether the substance found on Tims was an illicit drug, such as cocaine or heroin, but have expressed the possibility that Tims might have died from a drug overdose.
Fans and supporters, on the other hand, insist that it is too early to jump to conclusions about how Tims may have died and whether the father of four had given in to his old demons.
In a comment left on a Christian Post article, one reader, Lisa Newland wrote in reaction to the allegation, "Hmm yet another pastor who has let himself be enslaved by sin (2 Pet 2:19). As sa(d) as this is, and it is indeed sad, God will not let evil go on forever. This pastor is just as accountable as your average man/women. We cannot give sin a foothold."
Another CP reader, Chatrise Hadley, calling for caution, wrote, "Folks need to watch what they post, respect his family & church family. None of us is without sin!"
"No matter what people may say negatively about Dr. Zachery Tims, I think that we need to look at things from a different perspective," Shontell Murphy also warned on NDCC's Facebook page.
Murphy continued, "Have any of us taken the time to sit down and think about the storms/torture that this man was battling secretly. Any human can buckle when under pressure of this sort. Just as and alcoholic uses alcohol to numb the pain, he MAY have been guilty of drug abuse to numb his. ...Think about it folks, not making excuses for him, but I'm just sayin!!!"
Tim Hurley, commenting on The Christian Post story, wrote, "No matter how set free one can be -- the physical allergy for drugs remains. ... May God mitigate the fallout on Pastor Tims children. The enemy laughs at our ignorance while waiting to exploit a moment of temptation. Wake up church. Good folks are dying."
Supporters and fans calling for caution instead of accusations against Tims, have been referring to the Bible, warning visitors to NDCC's Facebook page against "judging" others and being careful about "touching" God's "anointed ones."
An autopsy conducted Saturday failed to reveal what may have killed Tims. Officials were now looking to toxicology tests to explain what may have led to Tims' tragic demise.
Tims' funeral has been scheduled to take place on Saturday, August 20 at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Orlando. The funeral will be preceded by a wake at NDCC on Friday, August 19, in which his body will be lying in state from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.