I couldn't ignore this. Tim LaHaye opened so many eyes to prophecy for this age and was responsible for helping so many people come to Christ. When the Left Behind series was popular, I happened to be traveling frequently, and it was common for me to be reading one of the books in this series. I can't count the number of times I was approached in an airport by a complete stranger who came by and mentioned how these books led them to accept Christ in their life. Tim missed the rapture, but he has "his personal rapture", in that he is with the Lord now and I am absolutely certain he is hearing the words "well done my faithful servant".
Tim LaHaye, the best-selling author best known for the Left Behind series, “graduated to heaven” early this morning after suffering a stroke at age 90.
His family announced the news of his passing at a San Diego hospital on his ministry Facebook page.
On the eve of his death, ministry partners, fans, and friends urgently asked for prayer on social media this weekend, offering a wave of early tributes that spread through end-times prophecy circles and chapters of Concerned Women for America (CWA), the 600,000-member public policy organization founded by LaHaye’s wife, Beverly. Some circulated a statement by LaHaye’s daughter Linda: “He will not recover from this, he will soon be graduated to heaven.”
“Tim was one of the most godly men I have ever known,” said David Jeremiah, LaHaye’s successor at the San Diego church he led for 25 years (then named Scott Memorial Baptist Church, now named Shadow Mountain Community Church). “Almost every conversation I had with him ended with his praying with me and for me. He wrote me extended letters of appreciation for what God was doing in our church. We shared long lunches together talking about ministry and praying for our nation.
“Whose life hasn't been affected in some way by this man?” wrote Prophecy Watchers, a two-year-old ministry based in Oklahoma City that announced the news of LaHaye’s stroke, describing him as a friend and supporter. “This is a great man of God and if the Lord takes him home, he leaves behind a wonderful legacy. In the words of Steve Green, ‘May all who come behind us find us faithful.’”
“Thrilled as I am that he is where he has always wanted to be, his departure leaves a void in my soul I don’t expect to fill until I see him again,” stated Jerry B. Jenkins, who co-wrote the Left Behind books with LaHaye, in the obituary released by the LaHaye family. [Jenkins wrote a tribute for CT on “the Tim LaHaye I knew.”]
When our mutual literary agent, Rick Christian, introduced Tim and me in the early 1990s, we hit it off. He was my mother’s age, and we quickly formed a respectful father/son dynamic. He never tired of my embellishment of Rick’s initial phone call, where I claimed he told me, “Dr. LaHaye is a best-selling nonfiction writer with a great fiction idea, and you’re a novelist with no ideas, so…”
Tim urged me to share that anecdote every time we spoke anywhere together.
Tim got the idea for Left Behind while on a plane returning from teaching at a prophecy conference—which was his passion. He says he saw a male pilot flirting with a female flight attendant, and noticed that the pilot was wearing a wedding ring and the flight attendant wasn’t. He imagined the pilot had a believing Christian wife at home.
Then Tim wondered what the pilot would think if the Rapture occurred right then and several of his passengers disappeared right out of their clothes. He told me, “That’s all I’ve got. Can you run with it?”
Well, he had a lot more than that—including the biblical basis for his view of eschatology, which he had been studying and teaching for decades. Tim had written nonfiction books on the Rapture, but said that everywhere he looked, people were reading novels. His dream was that someone could fictionalize an account of the end times that jibed with his view of Scripture.
Writing the novel series for him, and traveling with him all over the country to promote it, I saw the softer side of a man famous for successful pastorates, the founding of Christian schools and a college, best-selling nonfiction books, and strong opinions.
The Tim LaHaye I got to know had a pastor’s heart and lived to share his faith. He listened to and cared about everyone, regardless of age, gender, or social standing. If Tim was missing from the table at a book signing or the green room of a network television show, he could usually be found in a corner praying with someone he’d just met—from a reader to a bookstore clerk to a TV network anchorman.
After the Left Behind series, we produced a four-book series (The Jesus Chronicles). Even as recently as early this month, he was bouncing ideas off me for yet another project.
I considered him a model, a mentor, a father figure, and a friend. Thrilled as I am that he is where he has always wanted to be, his departure leaves a void in my soul that I don’t expect to be filled until I see him again.
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