Once a drug dealer in Baltimore, today pastor Zachery Tims leads a fast-growing church in metro Orlando
When Zachery Tims was 14 and facing an attempted murder charge in 1984, he never dreamed he would be the pastor of a megachurch. Today, Tims oversees New Destiny Christian Center (NDCC), a 5,500-member congregation in Apopka, Fla., located in metro Orlando.

The charismatic pastor who became a drug dealer at age 12 and joined a gang at 13 was facing a lengthy jail sentence for shooting a drug dealer when God had mercy on him.

"The charges were dropped to juvenile assault," said the Baltimore native, who shares his testimony on national TV shows such as TBN's Praise the Lord program.

The teen spent a year and a half in Maryland's forestry camps for his crime. But it wasn't until years later, when he had three recurring dreams that he was being tormented by demons, that Tims realized his need for Jesus.

"I was 19 and terribly bound by cocaine," he explained. Tims ran to the home of a man in his neighborhood known as the "Holy Roller" and said, "I'm ready to get saved."

"These demonic things would be circling around my head. A bright light would come into the room, and then Holy Roller would appear in the dream, and that's when the demons would flee," he recalled.

The new convert joined a Spirit-filled church and within seven years earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from Towson State University and a theology degree from Maranatha Bible College.

The 35-year-old pastor knows firsthand that God's power can transform a life. And that's the message he and his wife, Riva, who pastors alongside her husband, share with the thousands they reach through their ministry.

NDCC ministers to drug addicts, families, singles, the poor, married couples and others through its 33 ministries. But it wasn't until the church organized teams to evangelize the community that the membership began to swell.

"Pastors Randy and Paula White of Without Walls [International] Church in Tampa, [Fla.], taught us evangelistic outreach," Tims said. "We went from being just another church on the block to being a church."

NDCC's reach can be felt throughout the Orlando area. The church's Higher Ground TV program can been seen on The Word Network and on other stations. The pastor can also be heard repeatedly on radio. Locals say the church's huge billboards that bombard central Florida's skyline also draw people. NDCC's philosophy: "If Budweiser can promote its product, we can promote Jesus."

For Tyrone Mitchell, 34, New Destiny is a lifesaver. After serving five years in a federal penitentiary, Mitchell arrived at NDCC "a broken, messed up man."

"When I showed Pastor Zach my monitoring ankle bracelet from jail," Mitchell said, "he placed his hand on my shoulder, and through his tears told me he would do whatever he could to help me. The church didn't judge me, they loved me."

In an effort to accommodate its growing, racially diverse congregation, NDCC purchased 21 acres of property in 2000 to build what it calls the City of Destiny. The first phase includes a building currently serving as a temporary, 2,000-seat sanctuary. Its three-story Generation Next youth building, which is near completion, houses a cafeteria, six basketball courts, a fitness center, a 400-seat youth chapel, a two-lane bowling alley and more.

As NDCC continues its project with a 5,000-seat worship center slated for 2006, Tims oversees the church in three locations. Every Sunday, the pastor zips across the city in a helicopter to make it to the church located in Kissimmee, Fla., roughly 30 miles away. A family life center is housed at a third location in Orlando.

The Tims have seen God's supernatural provision in their lives and ministry. During the early days of his pastorate, Tims and the family lived off $15,000 a year, a salary his wife earned as a customer service manager at a hotel. But again, the pastor said, God proved faithful when a stranger appeared at NDCC and donated thousands of dollars to him.

"The man said, 'God told me to give you enough money to pay off all of your bills,'" said Tims, who told the man his bills amounted to $10,000. "I was depressed because they actually totaled $23,000."

Within weeks, the donor returned and paid all of the pastor's bills, and years later, paid NDCC's $54,000 TV debt. "I deserved nothing from God," Tims said. "Jesus took me from dope to hope."
Valerie G. Lowe

Best Magazine Deal. Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Charisma, SpiritLed Woman and Ministry Today, all for $24. YES - I want this deal!

3 Reasons Why you should read Life in the Spirit. 1) Get to know the Holy Spirit. 2) Learn to enter God's presence 3) Hear God's voice clearly! Click Here to draw closer to God!

  • Rev. Samuel Rodriguez was the first Hispanic pastor in history to pray at a presidential inauguration.

    At Trump Inauguration, Charismatic Leaders Pray Boldly in Jesus' Name. Is This Foreshadowing a New Day in America?

    It was an amazing day to let religious freedom ring in America.

  • Pastor Jim Garlow in a file photo shown praying.

    Conservative Christian Leaders Gather in DC, Calling Trump's Election an Answer to Prayer

    "Although the news media is predicting protests, what I'm seeing is that everyone is abuzz ...

  • Donald Trump certainly needs your prayers.

    Why You Must Pray for Donald Trump

    Here are eight ways I plan to intercede for President Trump regularly.

  • When I flew into D.C. yesterday, there were so many Secret Servicemen on the plane I wondered what was going on!

    Jennifer LeClaire Releases Urgent Prophetic Warning Over Washington, D.C.

    When I flew into D.C. yesterday, there were so many Secret Servicemen on the plane I wondered what ...

  • Here's a prophetic word for Washington, D.C.

    Prophecy: The Lord Is Raising Up Daniels in DC

    I believe we're on the precipice of a Third Great Awakening the Lord spoke to my heart about in ...

  • Does any of this reflect what's going on in your marriage?

    9 Characteristics of a Healthy Sexual Relationship for a Believer

    A healthy sexual relationship for a Christian couple takes effort, and it's worth working for.

  • Churches don't address this topic affecting women.

    The Secret Sorrow Women Carry

    This woman breaks the silence about a taboo subject to help restore many women.

  • Bishop Eddie Long died at 63.

    Bishop Eddie Long Dead at 63

    "Although his transition leaves a void for those of us who loved him dearly, we can celebrate ...

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit