The Pastor Who Was Imprisoned By A Secret Sin
At a special live-recorded event in August 2014, Tim Brooks had the opportunity to say “thank you” to NewSpring owners for giving to the church that changed his life forever. Watch his remarkable video from that day, and read the story behind his story ...
The sound of the handcuffs cut through the silence of his shocked daze.
Click. Click. Tick-tick-tick. Click.
"How could this happen to me?" Tim Brooks told himself over and over. "How could this happen to me? I’ve just lost it all. I’ve lost my wife, my children, my career."
Tim had spent his whole life cultivating the image of the perfect churchman. As the music minister of a small baptist church, his life was as much about performing as preparing his choir to sing pitch-perfectly to Jesus every Sunday for more than 30 years.
Tim’s suits were sharp, and his shirts starched. His thick grayish-silver hair was styled and trim; not a hair was out of place. Even his home’s front lawn was manicured and his bushes groomed. If one of his congregation drove by the house, nothing could distract from the perception that Tim’s life was in order, always under control. Perfect.
If I was perfect, who could question my morality?
And here he was pulled out of his truck in a seedy park in a neighboring town, busted by undercover police. He’d found the place on Craigslist a few weeks before. Curious, he’d driven up a couple times and left. But this time he parked. And when he was offered sex, a simple “yes” was all it took to undo all the stitches and seams of his meticulously tailored life.
He was exposed. A dark, sinful lust he could never control had finally come to light, just as Jesus promised in the Bible would.
With his mind racing in a million different directions, everything going on around him was a muffle and blur. But as Tim was being led away by officers, he heard the words of a voice — the voice he knew was God’s — loudly and clearly.
“Enough is enough.”
Tim grew up the son of Williamston millworkers, pillars of their local church, who wanted nothing more than for Tim and his older brother to dedicate their lives to serving God.
At 15, Tim asked Jesus into his life. But his relationship with God was always suffocated by secrets and lies until his public humiliation led him to NewSpring Church in 2010. That’s where God’s grace and forgiveness began to flow into his life, and where he discovered his true ministry.
As painful as that “life crash” was, Tim says, he wouldn’t go back and change history, even if he could.
"The best way to honor God is to be an example of his grace,” he says. "I now see people as He sees me: broken but worth redeeming."
Tim’s sexual addiction started as a teenager, when one of the boys he was running with in the mill village showed him the creased, torn-out pages of a magazine stolen from a parent’s pornography stash.
Then he suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a neighborhood man the summer between his seventh- and eighth-grade years, which only added to his sexual confusion. He didn’t understand what had happened to him. When he told his parents of it, the dumbfounded silence left him feeling guilty. “Maybe he'd done something wrong?” he told himself.
When Tim and his wife of 35 years, Stacy, were still newlyweds, he happened to mention the abuse in casual conversation. He blew off Stacy's suggestion that he speak to a counselor. “Junk like that happens to everybody all the time,” he remembers telling her. “It’s not a big deal.”
He discovered how wrong he was in a sexual addiction treatment center a week after the arrest. He wept uncontrollably and continuously for days as he came to terms with the pain he’d buried for so long.
I now see people as He sees me, broken but worth redeeming
For 30 years, Tim’s career in ministry had been his ultimate cover story. After graduating from the music ministry program at then Anderson College, he found church after church that was eager to hire him for his musical gifts and his polished personality — first part time and then full time.
But Jesus was never the focus.
"All the years I was in ministry, I knew I was saved, but I kept my face turned from God. The reason I was a perfectionist and the reason I worked hard being so polished ... was that if I was perfect, who could question my morality? I worked hard at being perfect. I didn’t want anyone to question me in any way.”
He had known his addiction to porn was displeasing and dishonoring to God, but he thought, “If I do my very best that I can possibly do for God, surely he won’t mind."
"I can’t tell you how much I prayed, crying out to God, promising God, making deals with God. 'Help me with this. Only you can take it from me,’” Tim says. “And that lasts two or three days, and then you’re right back in front of a computer doing the same old thing again."
A Time To Heal
When Tim returned home from his six-month stint in treatment, he discovered that Stacy and his two children had chosen to seek refuge at NewSpring, a place where “no perfect people are allowed.”
Before his life crashed, he hated NewSpring. He didn’t think twice about spreading vicious rumors he’d heard around town. It was nothing but envy for the dynamic, fast-growing church and its charismatic leader, he says.
But he knew he needed to be part of a church to faithfully follow Jesus with all his heart. “Where else would have me?" he told himself.
It was on Tim's first visit to NewSpring, Perry Noble happened to mention during his message that he, too, had struggled for years with pornography. And Tim knew he was in the right place to heal.
For a long time, the shame and embarrassment remained so strong that Tim wouldn’t go to his hometown grocery store or post office. He’d stick to the back streets when driving through town.
That was until one day.
"I heard Perry say you are who you are in Christ. No matter what people may think I am, I am who I am in Christ, and that's all that matters,” he says. "That totally revolutionized my life. I don’t let shame govern my behavior.”
They not only knew of our imperfections but embraced them as a testament to how God can change and make things new
Despite his public shaming in newspapers and television, he and Stacy first volunteered in the Green Room, welcoming new guests — a perfect outlet for the couple’s warmth and charm.
The couple found overwhelming love and acceptance in their community of volunteers and in their NewSpring Group.
"They not only knew of our imperfections but embraced them as a testament to how God can change and make things new,” Stacy says.
And just when Tim thought his life in ministry was over and done, he discovered the best was yet to come.
The couple eventually took on a role as leaders in Next Steps events, such as Ownership classes and baptism. And in September 2014, Tim was hired to be the Next Steps Director at NewSpring Boiling Springs.
"Jesus chose to use those who were down and out,” he says. "All the main characters in the Bible were broken. When he uses those people, it can’t be explained aside from God, and He gets the glory."
The Miracle of Grace
As a volunteer in the Care Room and at Next Steps events at NewSpring, Tim has found himself in countless conversations with men who have struggled long and silently with an addiction to pornography, just as he had.
When he's talking to men now, Tim knows first hand they never could imagine how far their secret shame and compulsion could take them into darkness.
And he knows they could never anticipate how much devastation it would cause to their wives and children.
Only by God’s mercy was his wife able to stand by him through the utter humiliation.
"I prayed that God would give me the forgiveness I needed to offer, and that God would allow me to see Tim as He does,” Stacy says. "Though unpopular to most of those close to me, I chose to honor my marriage commitment, for better or for worse."
Being broken is the first step to being made whole
When Tim shares his story, he says he still feels shame and embarrassment. But offering the hope of Jesus is worth it. He, a spectacular sinner, was proof of how much forgiveness and grace Jesus has for His children.
“Bring sin to the light. That’s the first step in receiving God’s forgiveness, and the power to overcome temptation,” he says. “Being broken is the first step to being made whole.”
Jesus is now firmly at the center of his life. Freed from the chains of addiction and the weight of years of pretending, Tim is experiencing joy in his life like never before.
"Our marriage grew stronger. There are no longer any lies or secrets between us, and it is precious that our children have grown spiritually watching us work through this,” Stacy says.
In all his time as a music minister, he’d never led a single person to Jesus. But at NewSpring, he’s been part of many conversations that have resulted in people asking Jesus into their lives — 18 times and counting.
"Having been through what I’ve been through, I’m absolutely blown away that God would use me,” he says. "I spent the first half of my life trying to please everybody, and I plan to spend the rest of my life pleasing Him."
Want to see more stories from that day? Check out the full message, "Not From You, For You."