I just found out from Bethany World Prayer Center Chief Pastor Larry Stockstill that his beloved mentor and father figure Oral Roberts passed away on December 15, 2009. Oral was 91 years old when he died of complications from pneumonia. I remember the infamous 1980’s the downfall of televangelism and the ring leaders. Jim Bakker of the PTL network was the first to go down in the finance fraud and sex scandal. Jimmy Swaggart came in second duking it out with Marvin Gorman over sexcapades. But Oral wasn’t too bad, his was just a wanna be spiritual version of Donald Trump building Trump Towers for Jesus. it was in 1977 that he claimed to have a vision of a 900 foot Jesus standing in his kitchen commanding him to build a City of Faith Medical and Research Center that would be successful hospital. In 1979 he broke ground across the ORU campus for the City of Faith Hospital and it was completed in 1981, by the time the hospital was complete, the project costed over $120 Million dollars. And thats when the Roberts’ family empire started to go downhill from there. Between 1982 to 1984, the hospital is plagued with financial woes, layoff, and other staff issues.
Now here is the problem with the City of Faith. Tulsa has a population of around 385,635 people. Oral builds a gigantic hospital when:
1. Tulsa has over 6 hospitals that can serve the capacity of that population of Tulsa.
2. The City of Faith did now have enough patients of money.
3. The money that was donated to the campus and the ministry had to be rerouted to keep the hospital from closing earlier than 1989.
I remember the infamous plea that Oral made on behalf of the City of Faith Hospital He built (Which was his own personal version of his World Trade Center in Tulsa) in 1987 that stated that if his donation partners did not send him $8 Million dollars, that “God was going to take him home”, notice that I didnt say “God was gonna kill him” Like Jimmy Swaggart Did, and Swaggart’s Roman Empire fell a year later. Well The Roberts ministry got the 8 mil, but mounting debts continued to climb even higher and eventually in 1989, Oral and his son Richard was forced to sell their homes to cover the debts. It was in October of that year that the City of Faith closed with the last patient leaving.
In 1991, the Praying hands that stood in front of the City of Faith were moved to the ORU campus grounds. The City of Faith is now called Cityplex Towers which serves to house several call data centers and other business companies.
In 2007 Richard Roberts was hit by a lawsuit by three professors who were wrongfully terminated. It was then that things begin to surface of Oral’s son misusing funds to support his daughter personal vacation trip to the Bahamas, and to support financial kickbacks to a Republican canidate Randi Miller for Tulsa mayor. Lindsay Roberts, Richards wife had a flair for style, similar to Marvin Gaye’s wife Anna (See Here My Dear). Lindsay spent the university’s funds on clothes, sent text messages on the companies cell phones. Even his wife and daughter Chloe had a taste for driving nice cars like Joel and his Escalade (sitting on 22’s). Eventually Richard resigned fro the ORU Board of Regents, and he was also voted out with a vote of no confidence.
I remember going to visit My grandmother and how she had Oral Roberts and his Prayer Tower Photos posted up on her wall in her house the same way a lot of Blacks in the 1960’s had photos of John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King posted up on their walls for civil rights and the camelot / new frontier era. Looking back on it its so ironic how she thought of Oral Roberts as a RFK or JFK.
I remember when I was a member of Bethany World Prayer Center back in 2000, and Oral or “Doc” as Larry called him came to the North campus, and Oral kept stressing his book Seed Faith 2000 which is a revised copy from the 1970’s version just tacking on Y2K Year 2000 to look good.
Also in 1985 ORU had a Law Center and sue to financial issues all of the center’s assets and books was turned over to CBN’s founder and 700 club host Pat Roberston which is now Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA.
Oral Roberts is gone to be with the Lord, however several of his ORU Apprentices , turned Megachurch cult leaders have in the words of the apostle Paul have left the faith. Carlton Pearson started the doctrine of inclusion and his ministry went from 8,000 to Zero. Larry Stockstill is building his own City of Faiths.