After several months of the megachurch Pastor Zachery Tims’ mysterious death, his ex-wife, Riva Tims is finally speaking up about the events that led up to her late husband’s death and the difficulty she experienced that led up to her late husband’s death and the difficulty she experienced that led to the end of their marriage.
Meeting at a local church at age 22 and marrying, the couple had a love for each other and even deeper love to serve God and win souls. Shortly after their marriage, they were eager to begin their ministry.
“So we labeled ourselves as an outreach ministry. So, our whole goal was to pull people in from the streets, not to pull them from other churches but really to get those that were unsaved,” she said in an interview with CBN. “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.”
Quickly growing their church from 5 to 8,000, along with an attendance boost came a heightened level of celebrity with the church community. This began to take a tole on the couple.
“There was somewhat of a distance that began to take place. I could still connect, but I knew that there was something different.” She realized something was wrong with Zachery began to travel a lot and prevented her from traveling with him.
“It was always a reason why I couldn’t go. That’s when I knew.”
Her suspicions were affirmed when Zachery’s affairs were uncovered. She was hurt by the affair but more so by his reaction to them. When asked about his level of remorse, she said
“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 spiritual way, not just in an emotional way but in a physical way and I didn’t realize that people hurt that badly. But the Lord told me to hold my peace. That was the hardest thing you could ever do.”
Wanting to pursue counseling, Zachery was reluctant to sit down from ministry and she believes he returned prematurely when resuming his role after just three months.
According to Riva, well meaning members urged him to come back too soon, telling him they didn’t care what he did, becoming “enablers” to him. This too helped to prevent their marriage and family from healing. In addition to this, the leaders of their church began to turn against her.
“Actually I was just kind of, you know, booted out, so to speak, and asked not to come back. It was like, if they see you, they won’t heal, I was told. So just stay away.”
Subsequently, Zachery began to confess to her more about the affairs. Looking for help in high profile pastors, she was again disappointed.
“They didn’t want to hear it or if they did hear it, they would say with that, get over it. It happened to me. You gotta think about the church. You gotta think about the ministry and my mindset was it first starts at home. You know, your relationship with God starts at home first before you can go out and minister…”
Their marriage eventually ended in divorce, she felt abandoned at times, by her husband, the church, and even God. She wondered what she had done to be so rejected and blamed for everything that was happening. She was in a state of brokenness.
Despite the difficulties she was experiencing, in her state of brokenness, she was able to see the love of God differently.
“I just began to see God in a whole new light. I realized He never left me, He was holding me, He was guiding me, He was instructing me, although I couldn’t hear Him clearly. His love never stopped.”
With the realization of God’s love and faithfulness towards her, she was able to authentically forgive her husband.
“Many occasions I thought I forgave. It wasn’t until I was just sitting in a room and I said I hate him! I hate him! And I would just scream it out and I thought, where did that come from? I thought I forgave him. But it was still rooted deeply.
“And it was bitterness. It was resentfulness because I felt, you ruined my life. I felt, you took everything away because you – of what you did.”
“It wasn’t until I began to pray for him, for real – and when I began to pray for him I began to get compassion. I began to see the root of his struggles. I began to feel sorry for him. I began to feel love for him. Then and only then, forgiveness came.”
Spending time in prayer for Zachery, she says the Lord revealed ugly things inside of her as well.
“I began to take a look inside and I didn’t like what I found… like self righteousness, lust in my own self, just wanting to be accepted by men and not God. So he began to shine the light on the filthiness in me.”
“Again, I was going through something. God was purging things out of me when I thought He should have just been dealing with my husband. But He said no, there are things in you that also need to be rectified and done better. And thank God I listened.”
Concentrating on her family and cultivating her ministry, she was able to move forward and experience healing from the Lord. Before Zachery’s passing they were able to reconcile.
They were able to spend time together on a family trip to Puerto Rico.
“He came to me and he said ‘I’m sorry’ and then he ended up telling his church at a marriage seminar that ‘I believe my wife would have still been with me and our family would have been ok if I would have listened to better counsel and ran after and fought for my family instead of running and fighting for the church.’ “
Today, Riva is the pastor of Majestic Life Church where one of her mottoes is “no celebrity pastors…its all about God.” She recently wrote a book entitled “When It All Falls Apart,” a book about how God can heal those who suffered heart break and betrayal.
“His blood can cover anything, no matter how dirty, no matter how nasty, no matter how horrible. It will cover but you have to make a decision that you’re going to repent and not continue [it] as a lifestyle. God’s grace covers but when you go through a situation, when you find yourself in a trial or tribulation, understand that God’s love and mercy is amazing.