Healing evangelist Oral Roberts has passed away due to complications of pneumonia Tuesday. He was 91, and was one of the most beloved evangelists of the 20th century.
“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 once 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.”
Born into poverty rural Oklahoma in 1918, Roberts was a preacher’s kid who initially rejected his father’s faith. However, when he was stricken with tuberculosis at age 17 his life would forever change. After a miraculous healing, Roberts gave his life to the Lord and God called him to “take My healing power to your generation.”
“Oral Roberts was a man of God, and a great friend in ministry. I loved him as a brother. We had many quiet conversations over the years. I invited Oral to speak at one of our early international conferences on evangelism held in Berlin in the 1960s,” said evangelist Billy Graham. “Oral was preceded in death by his wonderful wife Evelyn, who I also knew and loved. She was a woman of God, and a powerful prayer warrior. Just three weeks ago, I was privileged to talk to Oral over the telephone. During the short conversation, he said to me that he was near the end of his life’s journey. I look forward to the day that I will see Oral and Evelyn Roberts again in Heaven—our eternal home.”
Roberts held Gospel healing meetings first in small churches, then in large tents across the United States, and finally into foreign lands. He also preached the Gospel on radio and television. Roberts wrote more than 130 books, including such classics as “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.
Roberts founded Oral Roberts University, a 5,400-student university in Tulsa University in 1963. At that time, God told him to “Raise up your students to hear My voice,” and, “to go where My light is seen dim, My voice is heard small, and My healing power is not known, even to the uttermost bounds of the earth. Their work will exceed yours, and in this I am well pleased.”
Roberts was a spiritual father to millions of people around the world. Older generations will remember him as a sawdust pioneer who brought his tent revivals into the 20th century through radio and television. In fact, Roberts was the highest-rated evangelist in prime time television, according to TBN, and opened the door for the next generation of Christian television.
Dr. Jack Hayford, president of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, said of Roberts, “If God had not, in His sovereign will, raised up the ministry of Oral Roberts, the entire charismatic movement might not have occurred. Oral shook the landscape with the inescapable reality and practicality of Jesus’ whole ministry. 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.”