The year was 1965 as the Vietnam War progressed. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. advocated equal rights and fueled the nation.
In that same year, Oral Roberts, an Evangelical minister, who criss-crossed the nation and world with the power of the gospel and healing power of God, founded a university.
Thomson Mathew, dean of theology and ministry, said the first thing Roberts did differently was pioneer television evangelism and utilized radio to “reach people in their homes.”
In 2015, television evangelism does not seem revolutionary, but during his time, this was a brand new and innovative way to bring the gospel to the world. “[In 1965] the nation was turned upside down,” said Mathew. “The country was in distress.”
There was the Jesus Movement and the Hippies; tradition no longer worked for those who desired something different, something more radical. This was precisely what Roberts presented to the world through the Holy Spirit.
“He had a message of healing, peace,” said Mathew.
Roberts’ message resonated within the social climate, and provided a “needed contrast to the culture.”
Roberts also preached “discipline, whole being [and] wholeness.”
The university still preaches the message of the “Whole Person,” 50 years later. This message and the establishment created a witness for the surrounding community in Tulsa as well.
“ORU became the anchor for south Tulsa economically and developmentally and medically,” said Mathew.
The Prayer Tower was even the “number-one visitor attraction” for years in Tulsa.
The “message of healing” of “body, mind [and] spirit… became mainstream” as Roberts also combined the “concept of medicine and prayer.”
President William M. Wilson reminds students and faculty how God is still working and powerful.
During chapel, the body of Christ prays for healing and renewal. Fellow students believe in the miracles of God and the gifts of the Spirit.
Roberts’ theology impacted 1965, and serves as foundational to the university today. Even after everything, it was always God, and was always about His power, His love and His healing.
God used Roberts to show the world who He was and still is through the Holy Spirit. Now, He calls our generation at ORU to do the same.