Oral Roberts, the Christian evangelist who founded the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association and Oral Roberts University, has died at the age of 91.
According to a statement released from OralRobertsNews.com, he died today in Newport Beach, Calif., because of complications from pneumonia.
His son, Richard, and daughter, Roberta, were at his side.
Richard Roberts called his father a “modern-day apostle of the healing ministry.”
“He was the only man of his generation to build a worldwide ministry, an accredited university, and a medical school,” Richard Roberts said. “He was not only my earthly father; he was my spiritual father and mentor.
“The last member of his generation in the Roberts family, he had a passion to bring healing to the sick. His name is synonymous with miracles. He came along when many in Christendom did not believe in the power of God and His goodness. Oral Roberts was known for sayings such as ‘God Is a Good God,’ ‘Expect a Miracle,’ ‘Release Your Faith,’ and ‘Plant Your Seed for a Harvest,'” he said.
“The Bible teaches that when a Christian dies, he or she is instantly transferred into the presence of God. The past few months, my father has talked about going home to be with the Lord on a daily basis. He 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,” Richard Roberts said.
Roberts, born Jan. 24, 1918, suffered from tuberculosis as a child and was carried to a revival meeting by his older brother. His organization said that on the way to the meetings he heard a message from God that he would be healed, and “you are going to take My healing power to your generation.”
Healed on that very night, he began his healing ministry several years later.
“If God had not, in His sovereign will, raised up the ministry of Oral Roberts, the entire charismatic movement might not have occurred,” said Jack Hayford, president of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.
“Oral shook the landscape with the inescapable reality and practicality of Jesus’ whole ministry,” he said. “His teaching and concepts were foundational to the renewal that swept through the whole church.”
Roberts later served as pastor of churches in Oklahoma and Georgia and studied at Oklahoma Baptist University and Phillips University in Oklahoma.
He founded Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association in 1947 and launched crusades across America. Eventually he held more than 300 meetings on six continents, personally laying hands in prayer on more than 2 million people.
He followed up with a television ministry called “Oral Roberts Presents.”
His work to construct Oral Roberts University began in 1963 when he launched the work on 500 acres in Tulsa, Okla. Billy Graham, a longtime friend, officially dedicated ORU four years later.
The campus ultimately included millions of dollars in buildings, a space-age theme featuring gold paint and a 200-foot prayer tower. He one time famously proclaimed that God would call him home if he failed to raise $8 million in funds. He raised the funds and proclaimed victory.
The Tulsa World recalled that in 1980 Roberts announced he received assurances from a “900-foot-tall Jesus Christ” that his City of Faith educational complex would be built.
Roberts said in a letter he spoke to Jesus who said, “I told you that I would speak to your partners and, through them, I would build it!”
A doctor who opposed Roberts’ medical-center plans said the vision either was newsworthy or the product of imagination or fraud. A spokesman for the Oral Roberts Association said, “What he said he saw, he saw.”
Roberts told his financial supporters, “I felt an overwhelming holy presence all around me. When I opened my eyes, there He stood … some 900 feet tall, looking at me; His eyes … Oh! His eyes! He stood a full 300 feet taller than the 600-foot-tall City of Faith.
“There I was face to face with Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God,” Roberts continued. “I have only seen Jesus once before, but here I was face to face with the King of Kings. He stared at me without saying a word; Oh! I will never forget those eyes! And then he reached down, put His hands under the City of Faith, lifted it, and said to me, ‘See how easy it is for me to lift it!'”
The law school he launched was shuttered after a number of years as was a series of medical-school outreaches. His university at one point was $50 million in debt, a rocky period that was eased when Okahoma billionaire Mart Green donated $70 million.
Roberts was school president until 1993.
His life’s work included more than 130 books, including “If You Need Healing, Do These Things,” “The Fourth Man” and “The Miracle of Seed Faith.”
Roberts was preceded in death by his wife Evelyn, daughter Rebecca Ann and son Marshall Nash.
Officials said a public memorial is being planned in Tulsa, and there will be a private family interment.