A Legacy of Faith

A Journey of Faith

The life of Oral Roberts

1981 - City of Faith opens

1947 - Launches healing ministry

1965 - ORU opens in Tulsa

2005 - Evelyn Roberts dies

1993  - Richard Roberts named ORU president

1918 - Born in poverty in Pontotoc County, Okla.

1955 - Begins weekly TV program 

1989- City ofFaithcloses

2007-2008 - ORU gets $70 million gift, new leader

2009 - Oral dies in Palm Springs, Calif.

Tributes to an American Legend

Evangelist Billy Graham appeared at ORU in 1967 to dedicate the school when it opened. Now 91, Graham talked with Oral Roberts three weeks before his death. “I was privileged to talk to Oral over the telephone. During the short conversation, he said to me that he was near the end of his life’s journey. I look forward to the day that I will see Oral and Evelyn Roberts again in heaven—our eternal home. Oral Roberts was a man of God and a great friend in ministry. I loved him as a brother.”

Bishop T.D. Jakes, pastor of The Potter’s House in Dallas, described Roberts as a forerunner in Christian ministry. “Through his vision and commitment to Christian education, his legacy will continue in the hearts and minds of young believers. His tents no longer flap in the wind; today they are pulled up by the stakes leaving only the echo of his distinct voice reverberating in the hearts of all those who admired him.”

Charismatic healing evangelist Frances Hunter said before she died in 2009 that she was inspired to pray for the sick because of Oral Roberts. Just months before her death, she told Charisma: “Oral Roberts was one of the forerunners in bringing healing back to the world. Kathryn Kuhlman was another. But Oral brought people back to the reality that Jesus Christ still heals today.”

Evangelist Benny Hinn calls Roberts a spiritual father. The two became neighbors in California, where Roberts lived out his final years. “Only heaven will reveal how many hearts he has pointed toward heaven, how many homes have been revolutionized through his seed-faith teaching, and how many ears have heard his faith-filled phrase, ‘Expect a miracle!’ God has used him to open doors that were once considered closed to the miracle-working power of the gospel, and wherever I travel, I have been ever thankful for the trail he blazed.” 

Bible teacher Marilyn Hickey became aware of Roberts in the early 1950s when her mother was healed at one of his tent meetings in Denver. Though still skeptical when her mother was healed again—this time while watching Roberts’ TV program—Hickey was filled with the Holy Spirit three years later and helped host a return visit to the city.“We became partners of his ministry, and I began to see miracles in my ministry. I said to the Lord, ‘I know You called me to be a teacher of the Word; what is happening here?’ He said: ‘You are a partner to Oral Roberts’ ministry; he has a healing and miracle ministry, so that anointing comes on you.’”

International evangelist T.L. Osborn says observing Roberts instilled in him hope for his future in ministry when he became discouraged after ministering in India. Osborn realized he too could be used by God when he heard radio-evangelism pioneer Thomas Wyatt praising Roberts after meeting him in Oklahoma. “That helped fire our furnace, to get ready to go to Jamaica,” says Osborn, who was then living in Portland, Oregon. “In 13 weeks there were 125 deaf mutes healed, and it was wonderful.”

Trinity Broadcasting Network founder Paul Crouch Sr. met Roberts in 1959 while working as a news reporter at an NBC affiliate in Rapid City, South Dakota. Roberts was there to hold an annual crusade for the Sioux tribe. Their live interview took up the entire program, for which the owner chewed out Crouch the next day. But Crouch says it was worth it: “We talked about the things of God, and Dr. Roberts ministered to the people right there on the local news.” The evangelist helped the Crouches through difficult times, including Jan Crouch’s bout with colon cancer in 2003. Crouch described Roberts as “a preacher, prophet, educator and visionary whose life and example taught us much about faith.”

Missions leader David Shibley, founder of Global Advance, believes Oral Roberts was a towering figure in the 20th century. “In a few years we will begin to understand just how much we owe Oral Roberts. I am convinced that his fiercely focused faith, in the university’s darkest hours, simply would not permit Oral Roberts University to die. Like the patriarchs of antiquity, he shaped history by his faith and his clear vision of an all-sufficient, conquering Christ.”

ORU’s Hall of Fame

Oral Roberts University grads include these notables:

  • Clifton Taulbert (1971), an author whose 1989 book Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and released as a movie in 1996
  • Michele Bachmann (1986), U.S. Representative from Minnesota
  • Jim Stovall (1981), founder of the Narrative Television Network for the visually impaired. He started it after losing his sight at age 29.
  • David Barton (1976), historian, activist and founder of the pro-American organization WallBuilders
  • Tom Newman (1980), founder of Impact Productions, which produces up to half a dozen faith-based Hollywood movies a year
  • Dr. Jacqueline Fisher (1981), a Georgia cardiologist who has received the American Heart Association’s Physician of the Year award
  • Keith Wheeler (1988), an evangelist who has carried a 12-foot wooden cross in 165 nations

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