I grew up in an Amillennial church, so I learned nothing about Bible prophecy. I got interested in prophecy during the Six Day War in 1967. As I started studying the subject in depth, I began to pray that the Lord would lead me to an accurate book that would help me to understand His Prophetic Word. The book He led me to was one by Tim LaHaye titled, Revelation Illustrated and Made Plain.
At the time, I had no idea who Tim LaHaye was, but his book was a real blessing. It was easy to understand and was full of interesting illustrations. I devoured it, and have read it several times since.
Never did I dream that I would ever become personally acquainted with Tim. That occurred in the early 1990s when he formed the Pre-Trib Study Group. Over the years since that time, I have had the privilege to get to know him well, and during those years, he has served as a constant source of encouragement to me and this ministry.
In 2005 he agreed to be the featured speaker at our 25th anniversary banquet. And I had the opportunity to interview him numerous times for our television program.
Tim strongly believed in the power of the written word, and he constantly encouraged me to write books. He wrote more than 60 himself, including the blockbuster Left Behind series that has now sold more than 80 million copies.
He once told me a very interesting story about his writing career. He said that when he first started writing books, he could not find a publisher. So he produced the books on a mimeograph machine (I’m not kidding!). He would print out all the pages, put each page in a separate cardboard box, spread out the boxes on shelves in his garage, and then he and his wife, Beverly, would walk around in circles in the garage, assembling the book one page at a time.
One day while they were doing this, one of his children opened the garage door, a wind swept in, and the pages of the book went flying in the air. They spent the rest of the afternoon retrieving the pages and sorting them out into their appropriate boxes.
That evening, Beverly took Tim to the airport for him to fly to a church where he was scheduled to conduct an evangelistic meeting. Before Tim got out of the car, she said, “Honey, I want to pray for you.” He said okay, and she started to pray: “Lord, please, please find Tim a publisher so we won’t have to assemble any more of his books!” It wasn’t long before publishers were begging for his books!
Last year, when I spoke at a conference sponsored by a church in Indio, California, the first person I saw when I drove up to my motel was Tim LaHaye. At age 89, he and his wife had driven 130 miles from San Diego to attend the conference. He loved Bible prophecy that much, and he wanted to be an encouragement to me.
I have a video clip of an interview with him that I have watched many times and have used on various television programs. He tells the story of his father, Frank, dying of a heart attack when Tim was only 9 years old. He was very close to his father, and he said he cried non-stop for three days. When the day came for the funeral, he told his mom he did not want to go, but she made him.
After the service, when they went to the cemetery. Tim said it was a very dark, overcast Michigan day. The presiding pastor said: “This is not the end of Frank LaHaye. Because he accepted Jesus, the day will come when the Lord will shout from heaven and descend, and the dead in Christ will rise first and then we’ll be caught up together to meet him in the air.”
Tim said that as the pastor uttered that last line, he pointed to the sky, and the clouds suddenly parted and the sun shined through. “All of a sudden, there was hope in my heart I’d see my father again,” and Tim spent the rest of his life preaching that message of hope.
Tim turned 90 years old on April 27th. He suffered a stroke on July 23rd and went to his heavenly reward on July 25th. He and Beverly had celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary on July 5th.
Tim’s heavenly rewards are going to be great. For 25 years he pastored a church in the San Diego area which today is known as the Shadow Mountain Community Church, pastored by David Jeremiah. He founded San Diego Christian College and cofounded The Institute for Creation Research, together with Dr. Henry Morris.
Tim lived looking for the Rapture. Paul said that those who live looking for the Lord’s return will receive a special reward called “the crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).