Posted by: Apostolic Oneness Pentecostals | December 15, 2009

TV Evangelist Oral Roberts Dies at 91

TULSA, Okla – Oral Roberts, the evangelist who rose from humble tent revivals to found a multimillion-dollar ministry and a university bearing his name, died Tuesday. He was 91.

Roberts died of complications from pneumonia in Newport Beach, Calif., according to his spokesman, A. Larry Ross. The evangelist was hospitalized after a fall on Saturday. He had survived two heart attacks in the 1990s and a broken hip in 2006.

Roberts was a pioneer on two fronts — he helped bring spirit-filled charismatic Christianity into the mainstream and took his trademark revivals to television, a new frontier for religion.

Roberts overcame tuberculosis at age 17, and credited that triumph with leading him to become one of the country’s most famous ministers.

He gave up a local pastorate in Enid in 1947 to enter an evangelistic ministry in Tulsa to pray for the healing of the whole person — the body, mind and spirit. The philosophy led many to call him a “faith healer,” a label he rejected with the comment: “God heals — I don’t.”

‘Feeling like a lion’
By the 1960s and ’70s, he was reaching millions around the world through radio, television, publications and personal appearances. He remained on TV into the new century, co-hosting the program, “Miracles Now,” with son Richard. He published dozens of books and conducted hundreds of crusades. A famous photograph showed him working at a desk with a sign on it reading, “Make no little plans here.”

He credited his oratorical skills to his faith, saying, “I become anointed with God’s word, and the spirit of the Lord builds up in me like a coiled spring. By the time I’m ready to go on, my mind is razor-sharp. I know exactly what I’m going to say and I’m feeling like a lion.”

Unity of body, mind and spirit became the theme of Oral Roberts University. The campus is a Tulsa landmark, with its space-age buildings laden with gold paint, including a 200-foot prayer tower and a 60-foot bronze statue of praying hands.

His ministry hit upon rocky times in the 1980s. There was controversy over his City of Faith medical center, a $250 million investment that eventually folded, and Roberts’ widely ridiculed proclamation that God would “call me home” if he failed to meet a fundraising goal of $8 million. A law school he founded also was shuttered.

Scandal-plagued figure
Semiretired in recent years and living in California, he returned to Tulsa, Okla., in October 2007 as scandal roiled Oral Roberts University. His son, Richard Roberts, who succeeded him as ORU president, faced allegations of spending university money on shopping sprees and other luxuries at a time the institution was more than $50 million in debt.

Richard Roberts resigned as president in November 2007, marking the first time since Oral Roberts University was chartered in 1963 that a member of the Roberts family would not be at its helm. The rocky period for the evangelical school was eased by billionaire Oklahoma City businessman Mart Green donated $70 million and helped run the school in the interim, pledging to restore the public’s trust. By the fall of 2009, things were looking up, with officials saying tens of millions of dollars worth of debt had been paid off and enrollment was up slightly.

That September, a frail-looking Oral Roberts attended the ceremony when the school’s new president, Mark Rutland, was formally inaugurated.

Please join me in prayer for the Roberts family. We will send details on the memorial service as they are available.

UPDATE: A public memorial service for Oral Roberts will be held at the ORU Mabee Center, in Tulsa, Okla. on Monday, December 21st at 2:00 p.m. Doors will open at 1:00 p.m. for open seating. The service will be Webcast live on


  1. To many Oral Roberts will be remembered as a man of God who always devoted himself to money – and occasionally, God. Well, dont know him personally but i hope he is in a better place.I really hope so. My thoughts are with the family. We all have an appointment that we all have to keep. Its appointed for man to die and after that…

  2. Oral Roberts was an anointed man of God, whose legacy has nothing to do with any mistakes he might have made. Those who have no sin, cast the first stone. Mr Roberts brought healing to millions, devoted his life to the ministry, and who should be revered rather than ridiculed.

    When I look at the lives of those who have gone before me, I look at what God has done through them, not at what they might have done themselves. Paul says in Corinthians that those who glory should glory in the Lord, in what He has done. God has done plenty in the life of Oral Roberts. That inspires me, and encourages me to move forward. Mr Roberts did not go and lay in a dark corner if he made a mistake, but stood up, looked to God, and went on. He was not the type to condemn others, which is something those who criticize might take into account.

    Oral Roberts was a born again believer, and as such was sanctified by the blood of Jesus. Let no one doubt that. It is a certainty that He is with the Lord, and an absolute impossibility that he could be somewhere else. One is not saved by works, but by faith in Christ. This is why the good news is so good. Oral was not justified by his works, but by the grace of God, in the blood of Jesus Christ.

    Oral, I salute you, and I am inspired by what God has done in your life.

    Gerrit Grobler, South Africa


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