Evangelist Oral Roberts once announced that if he did not receive eight million dollars in donations by a certain date, God would “call me home.” You will hear this mentioned a lot today, as Roberts has died at the age of 91.
Roberts was a very successfully preacher of the old healing and hallelujah sort, first in churches and tents and then on television. He established Oral Roberts University in 1963, which he still served as chancellor at the time of his death; in recent years the school’s sports teams were in the news more than he, but the earning power of his name remained powerful to the end; whenever the wolf arrived at the door, Roberts was able to turn it back…
Roberts even founded a holistic medical practice, the City of Faith Medical and Research Center, which closed after eight years but, an adherent writes, left “a lasting impact on the understanding by many medical professionals of the importance of treating the whole person — body, mind and spirit.” The facilities were later turned into an office park.
Roberts spawned a lot of disciples — including the recently-deceased celebrity preacher Billy Joe Daugherty, who was among the first graduates of ORU. Roberts’ son still conducts Oral Roberts ministries around the world. Though Roberts is gone, and the style of televangelists may be altered from his heyday, his legacy will be with us for a while.
Roberts wrote in 2002 that while “my body is no longer young… the whole story includes: the vibrancy of the Spirit within me; a mind constantly renewed through the prayer language of the Spirit… all of these hold back the aging process and renew my strength like the eagle’s.”