By Worthy News North America Service
WASHINGTON, USA (Worthy News)-- Christians on Wednesday were mourning U.S. Christian evangelist Oral Roberts who died at the age of 91. A spokesman said Roberts died in a hospital in Newport Beach, California Tuesday, December 15, from complications related to pneumonia.
He founded Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma after saying he "heard the voice of God" telling him to build the institution while he was a young man on the way to a religious service in hopes of being cured of tuberculosis.
After being cured of the disease, Roberts built an evangelical empire based on Christian healing. He took his message to television in the 1950s, helping to found the field of televangelism.
"Roberts was a spiritual father to millions of people both here in America and around the world. We are so thankful for the commitment he made to God to spread the Gospel message of salvation and healing," said Paul F. Crouch, a personal friend and founder of the U. S.-based Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).
"He was a sawdust pioneer who brought his tent revivals into the 20th century by means of radio and television and became the highest rated evangelist in prime time television. He opened the door for all of us who are now in Christian television," Crouch said in a statement obtained by Worthy News and its partner agency BosNewsLife.
He said Roberts played a crucial role in TBN, which broadcasts Christian programs around the world. "our relationship with him goes back many years before TBN was started, in the late 1950s, when [my wife] Jan and I were living in Rapid City, South Dakota and I was the local news anchor at the then new NBC affiliate television station."
He said Roberts had come to town to hold one of his great crusade meetings. "This was major news for the little town of Rapid City, as Dr. Roberts was the preeminent healing evangelist of that day. I invited him to be a guest on my news program, which he graciously accepted. Little did I know that 25 years later our paths would once again cross as Jan and I had the joy and privilege of interviewing Dr. Roberts for the first of many times on the Praise the Lord program."
Crouch described Roberts passing as "his day of graduation", as the evangelist "is in the presence of Jesus enjoying the rich rewards of a life spent in faithful service to our Savior."
Yet, Crouch said life on earth will be difficult without the evangelist. "His prayers and wisdom helped strengthen our faith in times of trial and difficulty."
He said, "We shared his sorrow when his sweet wife Evelyn went home to be with the Lord a few years ago, and were blessed to see that he still had the desire to continue sharing the message God gave to him until his assignment was finished." (With reporting by Worthy News' Stefan J. Bos)