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Celebration of Healing: Tent crusades span 80 years

With only 35 cents, Oral Robert’s family made a long commute to Ada, Oklahoma. Evangelist George Moncey was preaching and healing at a large tent crusade. It was there Oral Roberts was healed of his soon-to-be terminal case of tuberculosis in 1935.

Eighty years later ORU is hosting a “Celebration of Healing,” a healing crusade and academic conference, to honor the healing of the university founder.

“About 11 o’clock at night, my turn came in the prayer line,” Roberts wrote in his book “The Ultimate Voice.” “Momma and Papa helped me up and almost carried me to Brother Moncey because I was so weak. His prayer for me may have lasted 10 seconds… but it was powerful.”

This tent crusade experience greatly influenced Roberts at a young age and inspired him to begin his own tent ministry.

His church ministry was in Enid, Oklahoma where he knew most of the people in the community and where he thought it would be most difficult to reach people.

“Some of the brethren, however, thought I should hold a larger healing service outside, where I was not known,” he wrote. “I told them, no, I’m going to hold it in Enid where everybody knows me and where it will be the hardest.”

Roberts considered the eventsuccessful: the offering covered the rent, 1,000 people attended, and at least one person was healed.

Roberts then took a nine-week crusade through Tulsa and had one visit in Nowata, Oklahoma.

“One of the things I noticed immediately was that my ministry seemed to be blotting out denominational barriers, color lines and disunity,” wrote Roberts.

Before starting his tent ministry, Roberts described himself feeling like a racehorse waiting at the starting gate. During his first healing crusade, Roberts was shot at, but the bullet missed, ripping through the tent just above his head. This shooting brought press to his mission and helped launch his name into the public sphere.

The auditoriums Roberts used for his healing crusades quickly became obsolete and he remembered the tent where he was healed. He purchased a tent, semitrailer, chairsa piano and equipment and began traveling. His crusades brought in thousands of people looking to hear about Jesus or receive healing.

“The crowds continued to grow. I traded in the 3,000-seat tent for a bigger tent. Through the years, the tents grew larger and larger until eventually we had a tent that seated 12,000,” he wrote.

The tent was the largest of its kind and could weather winds up to 100 mph. Fast forward to a “Celebration of Healing”, where it took a dozen volunteers and three days to assemble the tent next to the Praying Hands.

21st Century Tents

The new tent weighs 20,000 pounds, and was made specifically for the event at 100 feet by 200 feet. It can seat 3,000 people. The tent was made and transported to ORU by Christ is the Answer, a tent crusade organization that has been traveling the world for 40 years. Christ is the Answer started the ministry shortly after Roberts launched the university.

Christ is the Answer currently has tent ministry in 14 different countries.“There are people who will come to a tent ministry that will never step foot into a church building,” said Lens Kelley a member of Christ is the Answer.

Bill Meyer, a leader at Christ is the Answer, hopes to find another place to continue the tent ministry in Tulsa after the healing crusade finishes on campus. He ultimately hopes to find people willing to start a tent ministry. His vision is to launch 10 different teams in the U.S.

“We really believe the time is right in America for a moral awakening, a moral revolution. Most of today’s ministry is behind closed doors, but most of Jesus’ ministry was on highways and byways,” said Meyer. “Standing on the street corners works. Otherwise there would not be lady liberties selling tax services and people in chicken suits encouraging passersby where to eat lunch. We need to be willing to stand on the street corners holding a Bible and offering a smile.”

A Celebration of Healing

Many speakers traveled to ORU to present at the Celebration of Healing academic conference this week to bridge the university’s past with the vision for a global future.

The speakers included Candy Gunther Brown, Don Colbert, Kate Bowler, Craig Keener and John Crouch.

Each of these noteworthy speakers presented on the different aspects of healing and how it can be applied to everyday life as a believer. As part of the main session on Monday, Bowler reminded audience members of God’s promises of healing and prosperity whereas Colbert provided evidence for integrating faith, prayer and science for healing during the Tuesday session.

Wednesday marked the start of the actual healing crusade. Chapel was held as normal in Christ Chapel, but later on at 7 p.m. the “Tent Revival Celebration” took place under the tent by the Praying Hands.

“I think it was more personal since we were all closer together its environment that creates an atmosphere of glory,” said Kennia Melendez, junior nursing major.

“I was very intimate and very real to be in the tent while the breeze was blowing,” said Christy Kaneta, Freshman graphic design major.

Pastor Jentezen Franklin held the Thursday tent service, and President Wilson will end the event today during the regular chapel service, which is held in the tent.

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