December 15, 2009
Pioneering TV evangelist Oral Roberts has passed away due to complications from pneumonia, just a day after he fell in his home and was hospitalized. He was 91.
Roberts, who won a battle with tuberculosis at age 17, often credited that healing as the beginning of his ministry and calling. Throughout his ministry, Roberts emphasized God's healing touch through miracles.
"If God had not, in His sovereign will, raised up the ministry of Oral Roberts, the entire charismatic movement might not have occurred," said Dr. Jack Hayford, president of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.
"Oral shook the landscape with the inescapable reality and practicality of Jesus' whole ministry," he continued. "His teaching and concepts were foundational to the renewal that swept through the whole church. He taught concepts that spread throughout the world and simplified and focused a spiritual lifestyle that is embraced by huge sectors of today's church."
After years of preaching, Roberts founded Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association (OREA) in 1947 and began conducting crusades across America and around the world. The crowds included thousands who came for healing miracles, which Roberts claimed God enabled him to do. During Roberts' time with the crusades, they traveled to six continents with over 300 events. That ministry is continued today by his son, Richard.
In 1954, Oral Roberts revolutionized evangelism by bringing television cameras into services, providing what he called a "front-row seat to miracles" for millions of viewers. Today, that ministry has morphed into a daily program, "The Place for Miracles." According to the Associated Press, Mr. Roberts' top-rated television evangelism series was second only to Billy Graham specials in ratings.
Roberts expanded his ministry in 1963 with the founding of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oka. Longtime friend Billy Graham officially dedicated ORU four years later. In the 1970s graduate schools, including Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry, Law, Education, and Theology, were added. Roberts served as school president until 1993, when he became chancellor. Though the school was plagued in 2007 by financial stewardship issues under Roberts's son, Richard Roberts, the university still maintains a student body of about 3,800.
Roberts's personal tragedy came in 1977, when his daughter and son-in-law were killed in a plane crash. The experience prompted him to found the City of Faith Medical and Research Center in 1981, merging the healing power of medicine and prayer. The center opened as a 30-story hospital, diagnostic center and medical school, though it closed after eight years due to lack of funds.
Roberts wrote more than 130 books, including "If You Need Healing, Do These Things," and "The Fourth Man." His book "The Miracle of Seed Faith" has more than 8 million copies in circulation. This book's key principles—God is your Source, sow your seed out of your need, and expect a miracle harvest—formed a fundamental part of Roberts' ministry and legacy.
"After I'm gone, others will have to judge how well I've obeyed God's command not to be an echo but to be a voice like Jesus," Roberts said. "As far as my own conviction is concerned, I've tried to be that voice with every fiber of my being, regardless of the cost."
Roberts was preceded in death by his wife, Evelyn, a daughter and son-in-law, Rebecca Ann and Marshall Nash; a son, Ronald David Roberts; a grandchild, Richard Oral Roberts.
He is survived by a son and daughter-in-law, Richard and Lindsay Roberts; a daughter and son-in-law, Roberta and Ronald Potts, all of Tulsa; as well as 12 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.