Oral Roberts: R.I.P 1918-2009

I graduated from Oral Roberts University so my connection with Oral Roberts is perhaps slightly more direct than most people’s. I have a little more context to understand this fairly enigmatic man, but I believe it’s what I’ve been learning in the last 5-10 years that has given me a greater appreciation for him. His methods have often put him at odds with many people, but I believe his impact for the Kingdom has been undeniable and is worth honoring.

In recent years I’ve become interested an excited to greater and lesser degrees by various movements an teachings. Here is a sampling:

  • 24/7 prayer
  • Making the supernatural a natural part of life
  • God is a good god in a good mood
  • Sowing and reaping
  • Christian education
  • Healing
  • etc.

As I look back at Oral Roberts, I see that, while the language and practice might have a different “look n’ feel”, he pioneered all of these things in a big way LONG before I ever got on the band wagon.

  • ORU has had 24/7 prayer in their Prayer Tower since well before the world-wide “prayer movement”
  • “Expect a Miracle” was a foundation slogan of Oral Roberts’ ministry. It was even printed on the basketball court in the arena at ORU! (and sometimes miracles were needed there…and sometimes they happened!)
  • “Something good is going to happen to you” was the theme song of Oral’s TV show. Expectation in God’s goodness was an integral part of what he was about
  • “Plant a seed to meet your need” was another famous Oral Roberts slogan. Sure the “prosperity gospel” muddied those waters somewhat, but Oral’s main book “The Miracle of Seed-Faith” could easily have been written by some recent teachers that I have heard and respect.
  • Right now we’re amongst “pioneers” in Christian Education in the Francophone world. Having a “Christian University” is in our vision here and is considered as the pinnacle of the vision. Oral Roberts University was preceded by MANY Bible colleges and seminaries and many Evangelical colleges and universities existed before ORU, but ORU was probably the first liberal arts university where the Holy Spirit was honored specifically and encouraged to move freely. Sometimes messy…but hey, God’s creative activity often is!
  • Hello! Healing?! Well, duh! Actually, it’s not been until recently that healing has been “redeemed” in my eyes. But one cannot deny Oral Roberts’ place in paving the way for praying for the sick and watching God move powerfully.

Many have said that the era of the “big name” ministries is coming to an end and I think that I agree with that in general. I do think, however, that there are “Paul Bunyan” types who make a way for others to follow. They don’t “walk softly”, which means their faults are also out there for all to see and if you’re cynical, you’ll have plenty of fodder to work with. They do, however, make an impact. They swing their ax and clear a path and take new territory. Many people benefit from their efforts. We don’t realize the debt we owe to so many pioneers.

Oral Roberts was such a man.

2 Comments

  1. LaShorne

    Wow… what words… I didn’t know that you were a graduate from ORU. How exciting that you got to be a part of that university and that the faith man, Oral Roberts has had an impact on your life. My mom used to watch Oral Roberts on TV and listen to him on the radio. I know that she sowed into his ministry. I just recently finished his book When You See the Invisible, You Can Do the Impossible. He definitely ran his race with enthusiasm and boldness. I was fortunate to hear him speak in person twice. Back in the 90s he came and spoke at our church. And just this past summer I got see him in Long Beach. I agree, many people do benefit from their efforts (obdience)!

  2. David Leigh

    Hey LaShorne!
    Yep…an ORU grad…’84 to be exact. I was glad to go there…mostly because the environment at the public universities scared me! ;c) I didn’t appreciate it fully at the time and “stylistically” it wasn’t all my cup of tea, but I really see the impact that a life of obedience has. He really made a way for so many because he simply obeyed and believed…and God did the rest.

    One of the things that I appreciated, even back then, was the exposure that I had at a Christian University (even though it was openly charismatic) to Christians from ALL streams of the Body of Christ. From high church to shoutin’ AG’s and everything in between. It was a beautiful thing to see people different expressions worshiping together and learning to appreciate loud freedom in worship and beautiful mystery in liturgy. That’s stayed with me a lot.

    I really had no idea that Oral wrote a book in 2005. Thanks for letting me know. I’ll have to add that to my “read list.” It sounds like a great title!
    Bless you guys in 2010! It’s gonna be an awesome year!!!
    David

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