Granville Oral Roberts was one of the most famous and influential Christian leaders of the twentieth century.
Born January 24, 1918, in Pontotoc County, Oklahoma, the fifth and youngest child of Rev. Ellis Melvin and Claudius Priscilla Roberts, Oral Roberts grew up to become world renowned as a healing evangelist, author, educator, and television personality.
His ministry began with his own miracle healing of tuberculosis at the age of 17. As his older brother drove him to a revival meeting to be prayed for, God spoke to him and said, “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 Holy Spirit.” Roberts was miraculously healed that night of both tuberculosis and lifelong stuttering. His call from God and supernatural healing marked the beginning of a miracle ministry.
In 1947 Roberts established the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 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.
In remembering his father, son Richard said, “He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Oral Roberts was not only my earthly father; he was also my spiritual father and mentor. He was the greatest man of God I’ve ever known. 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.
“The Bible teaches that when a Christian dies, he or she is instantly transferred into the presence of God. My father has run his race and finished his course. Now he is in heaven, and we as Christians have the Bible promise that someday we will be reunited. My heart is sad, but my faith in God is soaring, knowing that the man I so dearly loved is now with Jesus.”
Roberts often said he could never have done all that he did without having his darling wife Evelyn by his side. For more than 66 years, they were a partnership for the Lord in taking the message of God’s saving, healing, delivering power to the world for more than six decades.
Oral Roberts was preceded in death by his wife Evelyn; a daughter and son-in-law, Rebecca Ann and Marshall Nash; a son, Ronald David Roberts; a grandson, Richard Oral Roberts; his mother and father; two sisters, Velma Roberts and Jewel Faust; and two brothers, Elmer and Vaden Roberts. 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; 12 grandchildren; and several great-grandchildren.