Tim Clark took a deep breath and dove underwater. He came up, took a breath and swam — faster than he ever had in his life.
The cheers of 1,500 people echoed off the brick walls of the Gladstone Community Center pool, but Tim couldn’t hear them. The water rushed by his ears, and the blue and white lane markers turned into a blur.
He reached the far end of the pool, touched the wall and swam back. He reached the end and resurfaced to the cheers of the crowd. He’d placed third in the first heat of the Kansas City Corporate Challenge, with a time of 43 seconds. It was quite an accomplishment against five other men, considering he has one arm and no legs.
In any case, this accomplishment launched Clark into an evangelistic ministry that still impacts lives. Today, Clark is a member of the Fellowship of Missouri Baptist Evangelists.
It’s safe to assume Clark’s childhood was different from that of most kids.
He was born with no legs and only his left arm. One leg ends above the knee and the other ends just below it. His right arm ends above the elbow. He grew up in Independence, Missouri, as the youngest of four children.
Even given the outstanding circumstances, Clark didn’t play the part of the victim. Missing limbs was just part of life.
Pushing the limits
Despite the setbacks, Clark always pushed his physical limits.
As a senior in high school, he decided to try wrestling. “It was the only sport I could actually compete at,” he reflects.
Clark made the varsity team at 105 pounds. He also swam, became a talented table tennis player and even ran a 10K on his knees.
After high school, Clark attended the University of Kansas to study engineering, but later switched to business. Up to this point, Clark had lived only for himself. Everything changed during his junior year.
One spring day, two men from a campus ministry approached him and asked two simple questions: “If you died today, where would you go, and why do you believe this?”
Clark didn’t have a clear answer.
He tried to think of reasons why he would go to heaven, but eventually he had to face the truth.
“None of those things would do it,” he said. “It convicted me of my sin. I knew I needed a Savior.” Later that week, Clark bought his first Bible and gave his life to Christ.
After graduating college, Clark moved back to Kansas City and began to work as an accountant. He worked for DST Systems, a Kansas City-based company that provides healthcare and financial services.
In January 2010, one of Clark’s coworkers, Doug Hayden, approached Clark and asked what he thought about swimming in the Kansas City Corporate Challenge: a city-wide, Olympic-style sports event for large businesses in Kansas City.
“I have one arm and no legs, and I’d be competing against able-bodied men,” he said. “I don’t want to be the crippled guy coming in last place with everyone clapping.”
So for four months, Hayden and Clark trained hard.
The day came on June 23, 2010. Before the race, Clark prayed, “God, if You help me swim fast, I’ll give You all the glory” — and swim fast he did.
Clark finished the 50-meter race in 43.11 seconds, taking third and more than holding his own against the competition.
Clark received many opportunities to give God the glory.
He did four television interviews after the swim and wrote an autobiography titled “With God All Things Are Possible!”
The book led to speaking engagements, and the speaking engagements led to church ministry.
Now Clark preaches revivals at churches across the country, using his story to encourage believers.
“If someone told me 15 years ago that I would be a preacher, I would have laughed,” Clark said. “God is unbelievable, the way He plans it all together.”
He never could have contrived a ministry from one swim.
“God gave me a gift I didn’t know I had,” he reflected.
Throughout Clark’s life, God has repeatedly taught him obedience, and he uses that principle to encourage churches to faithfully follow the Lord.
From birth, Clark’s life has been anything but predictable.
He keeps moving forward, trusting God with each step.
“God put me on earth to love him, worship Him and enjoy Him forever,” Clark reflected. “I just want to be faithful to what He’s called me to do.”