Oral Robert- Televangelist [Founder of Oral Robert University]
Oral Robert- Televangelist [Founder of Oral Robert University]
Granville Oral Roberts was an American Charismatic Christian televangelist who died on December 15, 2009. He was one of the first people to spread the Prosperity Gospel Theology. He was born on January 24, 1918, and died on December 15, 2009. He was ordained in both the United Methodist church and the Pentecostal Holiness church. People think of him as one of the people who started the charismatic movement. At the height of his work, he was one of the most famous preachers in the US. He started both Oral Roberts University and the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association.
He was one of the most well-known and controversial religious leaders in the United States in the 20th century. His sermons focused on the faith in seeds.Over the course of more than 60 years, his ministries touched millions of people all over the world. The most important things he did were his healing ministry and bringing American Pentecostalism into the mainstream. He was also a pioneer in teleevangelism and laid the groundwork for the prosperity gospel and lessons about living an abundant life. Because of the size and style of his ministry, including his well-known calls for money, he was often criticized and praised at the same time.
Roberts was born on January 24, 1918, in Pontotoc County, Oklahoma. He was the fifth and last child of the Reverend Ellis Melvin Roberts (1881–1967) and Claudius Priscilla Roberts (née Irwin) (1885–1974). In an interview on Larry King Live, Roberts said that his mother was part Cherokee. Roberts also said he was part Choctaw. But Roberts and his family are all listed as “white” in the census, even though Roberts’ mother says she is “one-quarter Cherokee.” Roberts was born into poverty and almost died at age 17 from cancer. After high school, Roberts went to Oklahoma Baptist University and Phillips University for two years each. In 1938, he got married to Evelyn Lutman Fahnestock, who was the daughter of a preacher.
After leaving college without a degree, Roberts went on the road as a faith therapist. In 1972, a feature of Roberts was published in TIME magazine. It said that he got his start with a big mobile tent that could hold 3,000 people on metal folding chairs.
Ministry And University
Roberts quit his job as a preacher in Shawnee, Oklahoma, in 1945 so that he could hold revivals in the area and go to Oklahoma Baptist. But at the end of the summer of 1945, while Roberts was speaking at a camp meeting in North Carolina, Robert E. “Daddy” Lee of Toccoa, Georgia, asked him if he would be interested in becoming the pastor of his small, 80-member church. Roberts suggested that they pray about it, and they chose to do so, which was a surprise. Roberts quit his job at the end of the year and went back to Shawnee. It seems that the Georgia conference of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church didn’t like the idea of having a leader who wasn’t from their conference. Even though the stop in Toccoa was short, it had a big impact on Roberts and his family. There, when Rebecca was five years old, she met Marshall, who would later become her husband. There were also two healings, which Roberts would later look back on as the first time he knew “it was getting close to “my hour.”
Roberts suffered as a part-time preacher in Oklahoma until 1947. When he was 29, he said he picked up his Bible and it fell open to the Third Epistle of John, where he read verse 2: “I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” He said that the next day, he bought a Buick and God told him to help sick people.
Roberts quit being a preacher at the Pentecostal Holiness Church so he could start the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association (OREA). He went on preaching and faith healing tours all over the U.S. and the world, saying that he could bring the dead back to life. In November 1947, he started a monthly magazine called Healing Waters as a way to get people to come to his meetings. Thousands of sick people stood in line to be healed by Oral Roberts’ prayers. He was a guest speaker at hundreds of meetings and gatherings across the country and around the world. Over the years, he led more than 300 “crusades” on six countries and prayed for more than 2 million people by laying his hands on them.
In Johannesburg, South Africa, in January 1955, Oral Roberts held a “salvation and healing” program. There was racism at the time. The Sunday Express ripped him apart for the chaos and traffic jams caused by the 20,000 people who went to the big Wembley stadium and playing field. Other newspapers wrote about how 25,000 people were healed and saved. Roberts left a campaign fund in South Africa that was worth $37,000 after costs. He did this in the hopes that “his campaign will save $100,000 over the next year.” Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) and the Assemblies of God – White Group (AG) were two of the four sponsoring groups that were Pentecostal. H.R. Carter, D.D. Freeman, A.J. Schoeman (head of AFM), and W.F. Mullan (head of AG) were all white Afrikaner missionaries and ministers on the campaign team. The campaign group wanted to use the leftover money from Oral Roberts’ 100,000 Souls for Africa Campaign to hold revivals in 1955 to bring both white Afrikaners and black Africans to Christ. The campaign group paid for a young evangelist from the United States, Emanuele Cannistraci, to hold revivals in Johannesburg at the Fairview Assemblies Hall and in Durban, South Africa, at the mixed-race congregation Bethshan Tabernacle. Cannistraci’s pictures, along with his claims that he healed two brothers who were deaf and dumb during the revival, were printed in Oral Roberts’ America’s Healing Magazine.
He also sent out seed-faith mailers, which were aimed at poor Americans, many of whom were from racial minorities. In the early 1980s, when Roberts’ business was at its peak, it made $120 million a year and employed 2,300 people. This included a university, a medical school, a hospital, and buildings worth $500 million on 50 acres (200,000 m2) south of Tulsa. The Abundant Life Prayer Group (ALPG), which is also a part of the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, began in 1958.
In 1963, he started Oral Roberts University (ORU) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He said he was doing this because God told him to. The university was given its license in 1963, and its first students showed up in 1965. Students had to sign an honor code that said they wouldn’t drink, smoke, or have physical relations before they got married. The Prayer Tower is in the middle of the site. It was built in 1967.
Roberts was one of the first televangelists, and a lot of people watched him. He started presenting on radio in 1947 and on television in 1954 with his revivals. His preaching on TV went on with The Abundant Life, which was seen by 80% of Americans by 1957. From 1969 to 1980, he also did quarterly Prime Time Specials. He began Golden Eagle Broadcasting in 1996.
On March 17, 1968, Roberts and his wife joined the Boston Avenue United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. At the time, the church’s leader was Dr. Finis Crutchfield. When it came to doctrine and morals, the United Methodist Church was less strict than the Pentecostal Holiness Church. This gave Roberts some room to move, since it was thought that the strictness of Pentecostal beliefs might have made it harder for him to become more popular.
Before Roberts became a Methodist, Crutchfield set up a meeting between Roberts and Bishop William Angie Smith. At that meeting, the Bishop told Roberts, “We need you, but we need the Holy Spirit more than we need you, and we’ve got to have the Holy Spirit in the Methodist Church.” Roberts became an elder in the United Methodist Church’s Oklahoma Conference. Roberts worked in the ministry of the United Methodist Church from 1968 to 1987.
Roberts had an effect on American Protestants. One expert in conservative Protestant society said that his ministry was only second to that of Billy Graham in terms of how much it affected people. His divine healing mission involved praying for the whole person to be healed, including their body, mind, and spirit. Many people called him a faith healer, but he said, “God heals—I don’t.” He did a lot to put Pentecostal Christianity into the mainstream in the United States. Even though Roberts was often linked to the prosperity gospel and the faith movement because of his close doctrinal and personal ties with Word-Faith teachers, his “abundant life” beliefs did not fully link him to that movement.
In 1977, Roberts said that a 900-foot-tall Jesus showed him a vision in which he told him to build the City of Faith Medical and Research Center and that the hospital would be a success. In 1980, Roberts said that he had a vision that made him want to keep building his Oklahoma City of Faith Medical and Research Center, which opened in 1981. At the time, it was one of the biggest hospitals of its kind in the world. Its goal was to use both prayer and medicine to help people get better. The City of Faith was open for 8 years before it shut down at the end of 1989. On the same site, the Orthopedic Hospital of Oklahoma is still in business. In 1983, Roberts said that Jesus had shown himself to him and told him to find a fix for cancer.
The way Roberts raised money was controversial. During a fundraising drive in January 1987, Roberts told a TV audience that if he didn’t raise $8 million by March, God would “call him home.” But the year before, on Easter, he told a crowd at the Dallas Convention Center that God told him to raise the money “by the end of the year” or he would die. Even though he had given himself a new limit of March and was still $4.5 million short of his goal, some people thought he was talking about suicide because of his emotional pleas and tears. While Roberts was fasting and praying in the Prayer Tower at the end of March 1987, Florida dog track owner Jerry Collins gave him $1.3 million. Collins was very worried because he thought Roberts was going to kill himself. He said, “I did it to keep the guy from going to heaven too fast. Religion has nothing to do with it. I have been a Methodist and a Baptist. Religion is important to me, not just the church. You must help each other.” Roberts got a sum of $9.1 million from people. At the end of that year, he said that God had used his work to bring the dead back to life. Gene Ewing, who ran a business that wrote gift letters for evangelicals like Don Stewart and Robert Tilton, wrote some of Roberts’ letters to raise money.
Roberts kept his love of nice clothes. One obituary said that even when times were hard financially, “he continued to wear his Italian silk suits, diamond rings, and gold bracelets, which his staff airbrushed out of publicity pictures.”
In 1987, Time said that his son Richard Roberts said he had seen his father bring a dead kid back to life. This caused a lot of trouble. In that year, the Bloom County comic strip “Fundamentally Oral Bill” turned Bill the Cat into a satirical televangelist. In 1987, Time said he was “re-emphasizing faith healing and reaching out to his old fans.” The Tulsa Tribune says that his organization’s income kept going down, from $88 million in 1980 to $55 million in 1986, and that his mostly empty City of Faith Medical Center kept losing money.
Harry McNevin said that in 1988, the ORU Board of Regents “rubber-stamped” the “use of millions of dollars in endowment money to buy a Beverly Hills property so that Oral Roberts could have a West Coast office and house.” He also said that a membership to a country club was bought for the Roberts’ house. McNevin quit the Board because of how much money was being spent. In 1988, people at City of Faith Medical Center sued Oral Roberts and his son Richard for $15 million in federal court. They said that the two were fakes who didn’t visit or fix people in the hospital.
Other televangelists’ scandals also hurt his groups, and the City of Faith hospital had to close in 1989 because it was losing money. Roberts had to react by selling three of his Mercedes cars and his vacation homes in Palm Springs and Beverly Hills.
Richard Roberts quit as president of ORU on November 23, 2007, after he was named as a defendant in a case that said he had used university money for personal and political reasons and not used university resources correctly. Mart Green, an heir to Hobby Lobby, gave $8 million to the university. Even though the case was still going on, the school agreed to an outside audit, and after getting a good report, Green gave an additional $62 million. Richard Roberts kept his job as ORU chancellor and led the school with the help of Billy Joe Daugherty, who was named the executive regent by the ORU Board of Regents to handle the managerial tasks of the Office of the President. Richard Roberts was the chancellor of ORU until he died. Eleven months before he died, he gave the school’s direction to Mark Rutland, who would become its president.
The Oklahoma Senate passed a resolution to honor Oral Roberts’s life, and he took this honor in 2009, when he was 91 years old and seven months from dying. One month before he died, the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters (OAB) put Roberts in its Hall of Fame.
Personal life: Roberts was married to Evelyn Lutman Fahnestock (1917–2005) for 66 years, from December 25, 1938, until her death from a fall on May 4, 2005, at the age of 88. On February 11, 1977, their daughter Rebecca Nash and her husband, businessman Marshall Nash, died in an airplane crash. Ronald Roberts, their oldest son, killed himself on June 10, 1982. This was five months after he was told by a judge to go to a drug treatment center for therapy and six months after he came out as gay. Son Richard, an evangelist and past president of Oral Roberts University, and daughter Roberta Potts, an attorney, are the other two Roberts children.
Roberts died at the age of 91 on December 15, 2009, from effects from pneumonia. He was “semi-retired” and lived in Newport Beach, California. He was buried in the Memorial Park Cemetery in Tulsa, Oklahoma, next to his wife. This is the same cemetery where T. L. Osborn would be buried almost four years later.
Martin Gardner wrote in The New York Review of Books in 1987 that Oral Roberts: An American Life, an objective study by Auburn University historian David Edwin Harrell Jr., is the “most accurate and best documented biography.”