TULSA, Okla. – Legendary evangelist Oral Roberts died Dec.
15 in Newport Beach, Calif., due to complications from pneumonia. The founder
of Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association and Oral Roberts University was 91.
“Oral Roberts was the greatest man of God I’ve ever
known,” said his son, Richard Roberts, in a press release from the
organization. “A modern-day apostle of the healing ministry, an author,
educator, evangelist, prophet, and innovator, he was the only man of his
generation to build a worldwide ministry, an accredited university, and a
“His name is
synonymous with miracles. He came along when many in Christendom did not
believe in the power of God and His goodness. Oral Roberts was known for
sayings such as ‘God Is a Good God,’ ‘Expect a Miracle,’ ‘Release Your Faith,’
and ‘Plant Your Seed for a Harvest.’”
Granville Oral Roberts was born into poverty in Bebee,
Okla., Jan. 24, 1918. He began stuttering as a young child and then, as a
teenager, contracted a potentially deadly case of tuberculosis. Bedfast at 17,
he was carried to a revival meeting by his older brother, where a healing
evangelist was praying for the sick.
On the way, he clearly heard God speak to him, saying, “Son,
I am going to heal you, and you are to take My healing power to your
generation. You are to build Me a university based on My authority and on the
Roberts was miraculously healed of tuberculosis and
stuttering at the revival meeting. His healing ministry was born several years
“If a former stuttering, tuberculosis-ridden young Indian boy in an
obscure county in Oklahoma can see the invisible and do the impossible — and
still do it — so can you!” Roberts once said.
After his healing at age 17, Roberts spent a dozen years
pastoring churches in Oklahoma and Georgia, and preaching at revivals around
the country, while also studying at Oklahoma Baptist University and Phillips
Then, in 1947, he founded Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association
(OREA) and began conducting crusades across America and around the world,
attracting crowds of thousands — many who were sick and dying, and in search of
healing. Through the years, he conducted more than 300 crusades on six
continents. OREA officials estimate that he personally laid hands in prayer on
more than 2 million people. The ministry continues under the leadership of
Roberts’ son, Richard, who has ministered in the U.S. and around the world for
almost 30 years.
In 1954, Oral Roberts revolutionized evangelism by bringing
television cameras into services, providing what he liked to call a “front-row
seat to miracles” for millions of viewers. Years later, he began a television
program, “Oral Roberts Presents.”
In 1958, Roberts founded the Abundant Life Prayer Group to
address the around-the-clock needs of those suffering and requesting prayer.
More than 50 years later, prayer partners continue to receive calls from around
the world seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
Roberts answered God’s call to build an institute of higher
learning in 1963, founding Oral Roberts University on 500 acres in Tulsa, Okla.
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.
In 1981, Roberts founded the City of Faith Medical and
Research Center amidst controversy that there was no need for such medical
capacity in Tulsa.. The facility closed after eight years.
Roberts wrote more than 130 books.
Roberts was preceded in death by his wife, Evelyn. 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.