Granville Oral Roberts
January 24, 1918- December 15, 2009
“God wants you well. God wants you prosperous. God wants you a whole person.”
This was the very base of Oral Roberts core. His desire throughout his entire ministry was to teach that the love of the Father wanted you well, prosperous, and to become a whole person in the lord. Oral Roberts was seen from the world’s eyes as a charismatic, Methodist-Pentecostal preacher, and televangelist; the truth of the matter was he transcended all labels of denomination and just spoke the will of God for people’s lives. As one of the most well-known and controversial American Christian leaders of the 20th century, Roberts's preaching emphasized the importance of seed and faith. His ministries reached millions of followers worldwide spanning a period of over six decades. His healing ministry and bringing American Pentecostalism into the mainstream had the most impact, but he also pioneered TV evangelism and laid the foundations of the prosperity of Gods gospel and abundant life teachings. With the ability to go beyond most cultural barriers with the Word of God, Oral Roberts legacy and ministry has left a substantial imprint on the Body of Christ, so today we honor him as one of Gods generals.
History: Granville Oral Roberts was born on January 24, 1918, in Pontotoc County, Oklahoma. Granville was the fifth and youngest child of the Reverend Ellis Melvin Roberts and Claudius Priscilla Roberts. Three months before Oral’s birth, Oral’s mother make a vow to the Lord. She vowed that if God would heal the child and give her a baby boy, she would dedicate her son to Almighty God for the ministry. God healed the neighbor's child that night, and Mama Roberts made her vow good. When Oral Roberts was born, his mother dedicated him to God and prayed that God would call him into the ministry. According to his heritage, Roberts was of Cherokee descent, and thus was a card-carrying member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Like so many other men of God, Roberts started out his life in acute poverty, for some of his childhood was during the great depression of the 1930’s. The Pentecostal message was not popular in those days. The Pentecostal people were ridiculed, their homes were stoned, their places of worship were bombed. Oral Roberts bore the brunt of much of this persecution and ridicule. Not only was he a Pentecostal preacher's son, but he was a stutterer as well. Many a times Roberts would run out of his classes in tears because of the ridicule he suffered from fellow students and teachers. After years of struggle, Roberts ran away from home at the age of 15, in hopes of changing his environment, he could fulfill his dream of being a governor or lawyer.
Things made a turn for the worse however, at the age of 17 Oral came home, carried into the house by his basketball coach. The result of the drama was Roberts lung had hemorrhaged and he had contracted tuberculosis. This was serious because the Roberts family had lost many relatives, including his grandfather to the disease. For months, Oral lay in bed in his family home with his health declining, and feeling hopeless.
After months of despair and his family searching for the lord, a dramatic change would occur. One day his sister Jewell came into his room and spoke seven life changing words to him. She said, "Oral, God is going to heal you." He answered, "Is He Jewell?" He had never been converted; he knew very little about the healing power of God. Sometime later his brother Elmer came into his room and told him that he was going to take him to a revival where a man was praying for the sick. On the way to the service in Ada, Oklahoma, as he lay on a mattress pad in the back seat of the car, Roberts heard God speaking in his heart, "Son, I am going to heal you, and you are to take the message of My healing power to your generation." A 17-year-old boy, dying of tuberculosis, heard the voice of God speaking in his heart that God was going to heal him and that he was going to take God's healing power to his generation. That night he was the last one prayed for. As the minister prayed for him, God healed Oral Roberts. He could breathe freely again. God, also, loosed his tongue and, for many minutes, he stood and exhorted the individuals about what Jesus of Nazareth had done for him. This was the moment that the ministry path encapsulated his heart; where he discarded of all self-actualized ambitions and made the decision to pursue Gods path for his life.
Ministry and Impact: Although it was almost a year before he regained his strength, from the time of his healing, he began to preach. Minisrtry started out slow for Oral. From 1935 to 1947 he pastored churches part time, evangelized, taught in Bible school, and wrote books and articles, as he was trying to fulfill the call of God upon his life. In 1947, while pastoring in Enid, Oklahoma, and attending Phillips University, he became more and more miserable because he didn't seem to be having the miracles and the signs and the wonders that he felt God would have him to receive. One day in a sociology class, the Lord spoke in his heart and said, "Don't be like other men; be like Jesus." He arose from his seat, walked out of the class, and began to earnestly seek God concerning his ministry. God spoke to him again and told him to read through the Gospels and the Book of Acts three times on his knees. Night after night he would kneel by the little heater reading the New Testament. As he read the Gospels and the Book of Acts, he began to see Jesus Christ rise from the pages of the New Testament: a Christ who was a healing Christ. Also, he kept having the same dream night after night, a dream in which he heard the cries of suffering humanity crying for someone to come and to bring deliverance to them.
It was at this point he felt that it was time to settle the question about a healing ministry. He rented an auditorium in Enid in which to hold a healing service. Then, he put a fleece before the Lord, asking God for three things: 1) he wanted over a thousand people to attend the service (he was preaching to around two hundred every Sunday, and so that number seemed to be an impossibility), 2) he wanted God to help him pay the rent on the building ($160 for a Sunday afternoon), and 3) he wanted God to give him a miracle--God would heal someone to validate the healing ministry. He announced the healing service, then got a job at a men's clothing store in case the fleece didn't prove true. If God did not confirm his call, he was going to leave the ministry and start selling clothes.
The day of the healing service, everyone stood around after the church everyone stood around after the church service, waiting till time to go to the healing meeting. When he walked into the building, the custodian said, "Preacher, I hear you want at least one thousand people? Well, there are 1,200 seated in the auditorium." When they took up the offering for the rent for the building, they received $163.03. (Three dollars and three cents more than the expense of the building.) Two conditions were met. But what about the miracle? While Oral Roberts was preaching, he jumped off the platform, and, at that moment, a German lady who had a crippled hand was healed. God had opened her hand. As a result of that miracle, seven men accepted the Lord Jesus Christ. That was the beginning of Oral Roberts' healing ministry.
After this occurrence Roberts resigned his pastoral ministry with the Pentecostal Holiness Church to found Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association. Later that year he came to Tulsa. Reverend Steve Pringle had a large tent on the north side of the city, and he invited Roberts to preach in the tent meeting. One night, as Roberts was ministering, a man standing across the street fired a bullet within a few inches of his head. As a result, he became a nationally known evangelist. The meeting continued several weeks, and God performed many healings. Oral Roberts decided he would move to Tulsa. In November 1947, he started publishing the Healing Waters magazine, and in 1948, he incorporated the Healing Waters organization. The first year, they mailed 25,000 letters, 30,000 prayer cloths, 15,000 books, and 90,000 copies of the Healing Waters.
In obedience to God’s call on his life, he conducted miracle healing crusades across America and around the world in a great “tent cathedral.” Each night, thousands who were sick and dying came for healing prayer and to hear his dynamic message that God is a good God. In a time when many equated poverty with spirituality, and sickness with God’s discipline and punishment, Roberts taught that God is good and wants His people to be healthy and prosperous, as he discovered in God’s Word. Through the years, he conducted more than 300 healing crusades in more than 35 countries on six continents. It’s estimated that Roberts personally laid hands on more than two million people for healing prayer.
In 1955 Roberts revolutionized evangelism by bringing television cameras into his live healing crusade services and providing a “front-row seat for miracles” for millions of viewers. Coining phrases such as God is a good God, something good is going to happen to you, release your faith, and expect a miracle, he soon helped people everywhere find a better understanding of God’s goodness and His desire to make them whole.
In 1958 Roberts established the Abundant Life Prayer Group to address the around-the-clock needs of those suffering and requesting prayer. On call 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, caring prayer partners now receive as many as 3,000 calls a day. In the more than 50 years of their existence, they have received more than 23 million phone calls—many from people reporting miracle answers to their prayers.
In 1963 Roberts founded Oral Roberts University, a 500-acre campus in Tulsa, Oklahoma, based on God’s mandate—“Raise up your students to hear My voice, to go where My light is dim, where 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.” He served as President of ORU until 1993.
A leader in the Charismatic movement of the 1960s and ’70s, Roberts’ in-depth study of the Holy Spirit led to a new revelation of the power that resides in every born-again believer.
In 1981, Roberts took a bold step of faith in building the City of Faith Medical and Research Center to merge the healing streams of medicine and prayer as God had revealed it to him. In the years it operated, it made a tremendous impact upon people’s understanding that God heals through both prayer and medicine, as well as emphasizing the importance of treating the whole person—body, mind, and spirit.
Roberts wrote more than 130 books, several personal commentaries on the Bible, and other inspirational material. One of his most substantive works is a 74-CD set titled Oral Roberts Reading the New Testament with His Personal Commentary that includes his life’s teachings on God’s Word. Perhaps best known is his book The Miracle of Seed Faith, which revolutionized the lives of millions of people who learned how to get their needs met through God’s eternal plan of giving and receiving.
Oral Roberts was an innovator and a modern-day apostle of the healing ministry. He was one of the first men of his generation to build a worldwide ministry, an accredited university, and a medical and research center. He had a passion to bring healing to the sick. He came along when many in Christendom did not believe in God’s power and goodness, yet his name became synonymous with miracles. Because of Oral’s great faith, love and obedience to the lord, and an overall inspiration to the body of Christ, Surly Oral Roberts was one of Gods great generals. .
Family Life: Oral met his wife Evelyn Lutman Fahnestock in 1936 at a camp meeting in Sulphur, Oklahoma. Apparently Oral took his seat in the orchestra, looked over at the young lady on his right, and said, "Is my hair combed? Do I look all right?" She answered, "Oh, yes, you look very nice." Later that night Miss Evelyn wrote in her diary, "I sat by my future husband tonight." That is how their courtship began. He kept thinking that the Lord should provide him with a wife, and he kept hearing the name of Miss Evelyn. He began to write to her.
One day he wrote to her and said something about her being a preacher's wife. She replied, "If you think that, you are fooled. I don't intend spending my life in a parsonage, raising a bunch of preacher's children." He wrote to her, "Who said anything about you and me getting married. Goodbye." However, after letters of apology, they continued their correspondence. One day he took the money he had saved and bought a new, blue Chevrolet coupe. He put his mother in the front seat and drove to Texas. When they arrived at the school where Miss Evelyn was teaching, all of the children, of course, were excited because Miss Evelyn's "boyfriend" had come to visit her. On the last day of his visit, he took her fishing, and, in his biography The Call he says, "The only thing we caught was each other." "On the way back from fishing," he writes, "I stopped my car on a sandbar to talk." He said, "Evelyn, my huge, happy, hilarious heart is throbbing tumultuously, tremendously, triumphantly, in a lasting, long-lived love for you. As I gaze into your beauteous, bounteous, beaming eyes, I am literally lost in a daring, delightful dream in which you’re fair, felicitous, fancy-filled face is ever present like a colossal, comprehensive constellation. Will you be my sweet, smiling, soulful, satisfied spouse?" To that Miss Evelyn replied, "Listen here, boy! If you're trying to propose to me, talk in the English language." So, he said, "I did it over again, and I was accepted. And we sealed it with a kiss.” Evelyn continued to teach school, and he continued to hold evangelistic meetings. On Christmas Day, 1938, Oral and Evelyn were married.
Oral and Evelyn would share 66 years of wedded bliss together until Evelyn died at 88 years of age from a fall. Oral and Evelyn shared 4 children together 2 boys and 2 girls. Oral Roberts died December 15, 2009 (age 91) in Newport Beach, California, U.S.