by Vicky Kaniaru
CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNews) -- "On March 8, 1971, while leading my men on a mine sweep at 1:30 p.m., I stepped on a 60-pound mine. It blew me up in the air [and] immediately ripped both of my legs off my body. It was a big enough mine to destroy a jeep. I should have been killed instantly," said Tim Lee, an evangelist who spoke Jan. 26 at Truett-McConnell College's weekly chapel.
Expounding from Acts 5, the Vietnam veteran related his story of redemption and then asked the audience, "What is your story today?"
Reared in a pastor's home, a 10-year-old Lee fell under conviction after hearing his father preach and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior.
"Somebody said you ought not to get saved just to stay out of hell -- maybe not. But that's not a bad reason to get saved," said Lee, who insisted that "when you get born into the family of God, you've got a story to tell."
Recounting an encounter with William Murray -- the son of American Atheists founder, Madalyn Murray O'Hair – Lee noted the differences in their upbringings and stated that when children are reared in a Christian home and taken to church on a regular basis, half of the battle is won.
Citing Deuteronomy 6, Lee added, "It's not the primary responsibility of the Christian schools to teach children the Word of God, it's not even the primary responsibility of the Sunday school; the primary responsibility is with mom and dad teaching children the Word of God."
As Lee grew older, he gradually began to idolize sports. In his rebellion, he strayed further from the Lord, he said.
"Five of my high school friends [were] killed in car wrecks, and I would see them laying in a casket. God would speak to me but I wouldn't listen," Lee said. "I kept running and I kept rebelling."
Eventually, Lee found himself suspended from college and fired from his nighttime job. He was strolling down a street in his home town when he saw a familiar military recruitment slogan, noting that the Marines were "looking for a few good men."
"I didn't know who the rest of them were, but I went in and told that recruiter that I had found at least one of what he was looking for," Lee said.
Lee joined the Marines, where he befriended Corporal Lee Gore, a Christian sailor. On that tragic afternoon, with legs missing from his body, Lee found himself on Gore's lap.
"With tears streaming down his face, among all the confusion and everything around me, I looked up and he was praying [and] asking God to help me," said Lee, who made a simple commitment: "God if you'll let me live and get back home to Mom and Dad, I'll do with my life what you want me to do."
Lee returned to the States and endured 13 major operations that left three inches remaining on his right leg and 11 inches on his left. However, the rest of his body was unscathed.
"God had a plan for my life," Lee said.
Lee returned to his father's church, where he met his wife, Connie. Soon after the two were married, God called Lee to preach. Hesitant at first, Lee accepted the call and told his father the news during a service.
Unsurprised, Lee's father announced the news to the congregation, adding that Lee would preach his first sermon in two weeks.
I did not want to be an average preacher, said Lee, who feared becoming a sounding brass and yearned to be filled with the Holy Spirit and the power of God.
During a camp meeting in Georgia, Lee heard a preacher speak about being filled with the Holy Spirit. At the service's conclusion, the audience dismissed for lunch, but Lee wheeled away into a pine forest alone. Deep in the forest, Lee slipped from his wheelchair and prayed on that red, Georgia clay.
"I didn't understand all the theology. I didn't understand all the doctrine," Lee said. "All I knew was I was hungry. All I knew was I was thirsty. I wanted a touch of God on my life. I wanted God's anointing. I wanted to be filled with the spirit."
Lee would later attend a pastors' conference in Indiana and hear a similar sermon. He knew God was speaking to him. When he and a friend returned to their motel room, the two prayed all night.
"The next morning, I knew that God had done something in my life," Lee said. "If you're going to have a story, you're going to have to get a touch from God on your life."
Lee was a pastor for five years until God called him to be an evangelist, a call he has answered for 34 years. The evangelist reiterated that God desires that every believer be filled with His Spirit, and that God wants us to be filled with the Spirit every day.
"You need to find a pine forest, you need the linoleum floor somewhere, you need to get alone with God," Lee said. "We don't need a whole lot of people who are educated without the power of God. We need a whole bunch of people who are educated with the anointing of God on their life, making a difference in this world. If you've been saved, you've got a story to tell."
Vicky Kaniaru is senior staff writer at Truett-McConnell College.