In 1935, as a young man named Oral Roberts lay dying of incurable tuberculosis in Enid, Oklahoma, the Lord spoke to the young man and said, “Son, I am going to heal you, and you are to take My healing power to your generation. And someday, you are to build Me a university based on My authority and on the Holy Spirit.”
That very night, Oral’s brother drove him to a tent revival in Ada, Oklahoma, where evangelist George Moncey laid his hands on Oral’s fevered, weak body and prayed, “You foul, tormenting disease, I command you in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, come out of this boy! Loose him and let him go free!”
The power of God hit Oral’s body and he received an immediate healing in his lungs, as well as his stuttering tongue. From that day forward, the life of Oral Roberts was changed forever, and the story of Oral Roberts Ministries began.
Shortly after his healing, in 1938, he wrote and published his first book, Salvation by the Blood, which he gave to his wife-to-be, Evelyn, while they were courting. In 1941, Oral entered the ministry as a pastor of a small church, and he continued to pastor until 1947.
In May 1947, Oral conducted his first public healing service for the Lord in a downtown auditorium in Enid, Oklahoma. More than 1,200 people attended—seven times more than he had ever preached to in his little church that he had pastored. Encouraged by the people’s support, God’s faithfulness to provide the finances to rent the auditorium, and the instant healing of a woman whose hand had been totally stiff for 38 years, Oral pursued with a whole heart the calling of the Lord to launch a healing ministry to his generation. That same year, he wrote his well-known book, If You Need Healing Do These Things, which is still available to readers today.
Soon, Oral Roberts Ministries (ORM) had its official headquarters in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the city where it currently resides. Oral conducted healing crusades throughout the U.S. in his giant tent cathedral—because there were few auditoriums at the time that could hold the large crowds. Hundreds of miracles happened in every service in the big tent and each week through the ministry’s radio program.
As the crowds grew, the size of the tent was increased until it could seat up to 12,000 people. The side curtains could be lifted so that thousands more could stand outside the tent and hear the preaching, see the miracles, receive healing prayer, and come forward to receive Christ as their personal Savior. These tent crusades continued in the United States through 1967. And over the years, Oral also ministered many times overseas. At many of these tent crusades, Oral’s son, Richard, was at his side, learning about God’s healing power and helping his father to minister.
In 1948, ORM launched its ministry magazine. Known first as Healing Waters and eventually as Abundant Life, the magazine published Oral’s sermons, healing testimonies, crusade schedules, ministry updates, and teaching articles based on God’s Word to build up the faith of Christian believers. Over the years, this magazine has taken on many forms, and now is offered to current ministry partners as the encouraging quarterly magazine, Miracles.
During these early years, people also began to write in with testimonies and prayer requests, and Oral wrote back with healing prayers—the beginning of ORM’s well-known letters ministry, which continues today as a personal outreach to respond to the needs of each individual who writes in with prayer requests.
In 1954, ORM began filming its healing crusades for national television, and in 1955, Oral Roberts televised the first live service from his giant tent cathedral, a feat the ministry was told was “technically impossible.” It was the first weekly primetime TV healing service that America had ever known, giving millions at home a front-row seat to see miracles happening right before their eyes. The whole nation saw that God is a good God, He is a miracle-working God, and faith in Him can move mountains of human need.
By 1956, the ministry was printing literature in 86 different languages and distributing it throughout the world, as well as broadcasting in scores of nations through radio and television. And in 1957, for the first time, a million souls were won to Jesus in a 12-month period through ORM’s crusades and weekly TV coverage.
In 1959, the Abundant Life® Prayer Group was established to answer the calls of people who needed prayer. Prayer partners trained to know the Scriptures are available to those in need—24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To date, the ALPG has answered more than 24 million calls for prayer.
In 1962, ORM broke ground in Tulsa for the world’s first charismatic Christian university. Oral Roberts University (ORU) was officially chartered in 1963, and then received its very first class of 300 students onto its 500-acre campus in 1965. In 1971, the university received full accreditation. Since that time, ORU has raised up and continues to raise up thousands of students to go into all the world with the light of God’s Gospel.
ORM’s first national television special aired in 1969, featuring Mahalia Jackson as the main guest. From 1969 to 1975, several more TV specials were broadcast, with an array of Hollywood talent participating, including stars such as Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, and many others.
Oral’s milestone book, The Miracle of Seed-Faith, was first published in 1970. Its message of the power of God’s principle of sowing our seed, expecting a miracle, and receiving our harvest continues to minister to the Body of Christ. Over the years, Oral wrote 133 books and 32 booklets, his last being The Ultimate Voice in 2008, which describes the ways that God speaks to His children and directs them along the right path in life.
In 1981, the ministry opened the City of Faith, a medical facility dedicated to merging God’s healing streams of prayer and medicine in one place. For many years, patients were able to come to Tulsa to receive care from Christian doctors and nurses. And although the City of Faith closed in 1990, it still remains a strong model of the power of medical science and God’s supernatural healing power working together to bring restoration to people’s bodies and minds
Like his father Oral, Richard Roberts also felt the call to minister through television. From 1984 to 1992, Richard hosted a daily TV program Richard Roberts Live. From 1993 to 1996, he hosted New Perspectives. The daytime program Make Your Day Count, with Richard’s wife, Lindsay Roberts, began airing in 1996 to minister to today’s busy woman.
In 1997, Richard and his wife, Lindsay, began a nightly live interactive TV show, known today as The Place for Miracles. While calls come in to the Abundant Life Prayer Group, Richard and Lindsay minister to viewers through prayer, the word of knowledge, preaching, encouraging testimonies, live calls with partners, interviews with special guests, and worship music. To date, The Place for Miracles has received more than 141,000 calls from viewers reporting testimonies as a result of Richard and Lindsay’s ministry.
Hunger Needs a Voice® (HNAV) began as a humanitarian outreach of ORM in 2007. As Jordan Roberts assisted her father, Richard, on his crusade that year in Niger, she saw firsthand the effects that poverty and hunger were having on Niger’s children. The 285,000 nutritious meals that ORM handed out during the crusade weren’t nearly enough to meet everyone’s needs, but it was a start. And so was born the vision for feeding the hungry during crusade trips and in times of crisis. Since its inception, HNAV has given millions of meals to those in need in Kenya, Niger, Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In 2013, HNAV became a separate 501(3)(c) non-profit organization that continues to work in conjunction with ORM.
In 2010, the Richard Roberts School of the Spirit® offered its debut course. This school offers ministry-oriented continuing education classes by Internet and DVD for Christian believers who wish to grow in their understanding of God’s Word, learn practical ways to live and move in the power of the Holy Spirit, and equip themselves to share God’s Word and power with the people in their communities. Many people have reported healings, answers to prayers, and increasing success in sharing Jesus with others as a result of what they have learned in class. In 2013, the school expanded to become known as the Richard Roberts School of Miracles and continues to offer new online courses on a regular basis. To date, more than 18,000 students in 75 nations have studied these online courses.
Oral’s wife, Evelyn, went home to be with the Lord in 2005. Oral followed her to heaven in 2009. Today, the ministry continues under the leadership of Oral’s son and daughter-in-law, Richard and Lindsay, fulfilling its goal to reach as many people as possible with the foundational message that Jesus Christ is alive and that He desires to save, heal, deliver, and provide for everyone who calls upon His name in faith.
The Worldwide Outreach of Oral Roberts Ministries
Since 1952, the Oral Roberts Ministries has ministered in 56 countries and territories around the world, including Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Rhodesia, Russia, Scotland, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Swaziland, Sweden, Taiwan, Trinidad, United States, Vietnam, Wales, Zaire, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.