FORT MILL, S.C., JULY 22 -- As part of a widening federal probe into the PTL regime of defrocked evangelist Jim Bakker, government agents are focusing on the financing of Kevin's House -- a $1.5 million home for handicapped children for which the ministry raised more than $3 million last year.

Government investigators are looking into the possibility that hundreds of thousands of dollars donated for the home by PTL viewers were improperly used to pay operating costs and high salaries and bonuses at the cash-strapped ministry,according to law enforcement sources.

Among hundreds of internal documents recently subpoenaed by the government, Justice Department officials requested all ministry records relating to fund-raising appeals and receipts for the home. The subpoena, according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post, also demands tapes of Bakker appealing for cash for Kevin's House on "The Jim and Tammy Show," his former TV program.

Such tactics are under scrutiny, the sources said, as possible violations of federal laws against mail and wire fraud that prohibit raising money under one pretext, then spending it for something else. Prosecutors have empaneled a special federal grand jury, scheduled to convene in Charlotte, N.C., on Aug. 17, to begin hearing evidence in the case.

Appeals for Kevin's House last year ranked as one of the most popular fund-raising campaigns ever launched by Bakker. Often by his side as he pleaded for money was the centerpiece of the campaign: Kevin Whittum, a 28-inch teen-ager suffering from a rare bone disease, whose adoptive father is Bakker's first cousin.

"The use of a crippled child to raise money was a new low in TV fund raising," said PTL Executive Officer Jerry Nims, who has foresworn such tactics. Nims was appointed to his post by PTL Chairman Jerry Falwell, who took over the ministry when Bakker resigned March 19 after confessing adultery.

Nims said the ministry is considering converting Kevin's House, a largely empty, rambling Victorian home with 14 bedrooms, into a bed-and-breakfast hotel. His comments came as Harry Hargrave, PTL's chief operating officer, met today with about 100 creditors and contributors in a movie theater in Columbia, S.C., and assured them that the ministry, which filed for bankruptcy last month, is at the break-even point now. It was losing $3 million monthly when Falwell took over in March, Hargrave said.

During an eight-month period last year, Bakker and colleagues made more than 65 appeals for Kevin's House donations, pleading that they needed money to build a permanent home for Kevin and other handicapped children. Appeals were charged with emotion, as Bakker described how Kevin wept when he had to go home to Michigan after a family vacation at Heritage USA, PTL's 2,300-acre Christian theme park here.

As the family was leaving, Kevin "just sobbed so hard -- he didn't want to go home," said Bakker during the April 24, 1986, broadcast, which has been subpoenaed by prosecutors. "I thought his heart was going to break inside. And I did something I said I wasn't going to do anymore. I made a commitment on the spot. I said, 'Kevin, I'm going to build a house {for you} and other kids.' "

Money rolled in from viewers, but last November, Bakker, on the air, called the fund-raising campaign a "disappointment," as he begged for more money.

The project was plagued by trouble from the start, including design flaws, delays in acquiring a license from the South Carolina Department of Social Services and an inability to find applicants that met PTL qualifications. As a result, the only handicapped occupants for the home, built to house up to eight children, are Kevin and his adoptive sister Carolyn, 22.

In an interview today, Kevin said that after moving in he discovered that the house lacked many of the special features promised him last year during fund-raising telethons, where he was requested to appear as a Bakker guest. These included an intercom system, an indoor swimming pool for physical therapy and, most important, an elevator to allow access to both floors in the house.

"My dad has to carry me up and down the stairs, and if my dad isn't here, I can't go anywhere," said Kevin, 18, who has become highly popular among visitors here, largely as a result of frequent television appearances during last year's fund-raising appeals for PTL, which stands for Praise the Lord or People That Love.

Amenities such as the elevator were canceled late last year, apparently for lack of funds. Yet other features that seem ill suited for the handicapped dot the house: life-size rocking horses and a white baby grand piano, brought in for impromptu serenades by Tammy Faye Bakker.

"I really don't know what happened to the money," Kevin said, referring to the canceled items. "We really don't know how much money was raised."

According to an internal PTL memo dated July 14, 1987, which was obtained by The Washington Post, Bakker raised just over $3 million for Kevin's House, but total costs exceeded that. The construction, done by PTL's prime contractor, Roe Messner, cost $1.3 million, the memo shows. Another $208,000 was spent to furnish it. Also charged to the project was $277,000 for landscaping, a fence and an access road. A muddy duck pond nearby, apparently unrelated to the project, was also billed to Kevin's House at a cost of $131,000.

To account for the remaining funds, the document shows, PTL officials charged numerous fund-raising costs to the project: $790,000 in TV studio overhead, $279,000 for direct-mail solicitations and $325,000 in promotional gifts to donors -- charges that new PTL officials are calling inappropriate cost accounting, or worse.

Yet Kevin doesn't blame Bakker. "He was too busy trying to run a ministry," he said, his brittle limbs cushioned by a soft sheepskin blanket. He lay on his back on the living room floor, surrounded by his computer, TV set and telephone with special earphones. Staring down were autographed photos from Mickey Rooney and Clint Eastwood. Between discourses on President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative and critiques of favored TV shows like "Miami Vice" and "The Equalizer," Kevin spoke happily about his 95 average in high school last year and defended his benefactor.

"Jim Bakker is a terrible businessman," he said. "He has the dream, but he doesn't know how to take care of the money . . . I don't believe Jim knew what was going on, with so many presidents and vice presidents who were all taking care of themselves, I don't believe Jim knew what was going on."

"It's a shame," said Nims. "How many handicapped people could $3 million have cared for the rest of their lives?"

While the ground floor is designed for the handicapped, with rounded corners and what Kevin calls a "drive-in shower" off his sunny bedroom, Kevin is forced to spend most of his time upstairs in his parents' quarters.

"Kevin will always have a place here, but it should be a house that is suited for him," said Nims, contemplating a move of Kevin and his family to some other home on the grounds.

But Kevin bristled at the idea. Despite the flaws in the house, he doesn't want to move.

"They can't do that," he said, citing fan mail from PTL partners that arrives at the rate of 20 letters a day. "They'll have so many partners pouncing on them . . . it will only seal their own coffin."