On December 15, 2009, Oral Roberts, 91, chancellor and founder of Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma went home to be with the Lord. Words cannot express how much of an impact this one man made on several generations of leaders and world changers. I will never forget my first interaction with Oral Roberts when I was a young boy. It’s actually kind of funny.
I was living in Orange Country, CA and I was in the seventh grade. Our church invited Oral Roberts to speak. I will never forget his popular message which was his ministry trademark, called The Fourth Man. That message was the first sermon I heard Oral preach. When Oral spoke you could hear a pin drop in that place. After the church service was over, I had to run to the bathroom because church went way longer than normal, but hey, Oral Roberts was in the house, that’s to be expected. I ran into the bathroom, because I really had to..you know…go. After standing at the urinal for about 10 seconds, this very tall man comes up and starts using the urinal right next to me and lo and behold it was Oral Roberts. Now, as funny and as awkward as this story may sound, this was my first time to meet Oral Roberts, and ironically, it had to be in the men’s bathroom. What can I say, weird scenarios seem to always happen to me like this. Now, I was in the seventh grade at the time. I remember saying, “I really enjoyed your sermon today, Mr. Roberts.” He just turned and smiled real big and said, “how old are you young man?” I am twelve. And, then he said, “As you grow, keep your eyes on Jesus and make him the center of your life.” He went on to ask me, “have you thought about where you might go to college?” Now, when you’re in the seventh grade and a twelve year old, where to go to college is the least concern on your mind. So, I said, “No, sir, I don’t know where I’m going yet.” “Well, let me help you with that,” Oral said. “Go to my university in Tulsa.” Oral was never scared to get to the point and was the best recruiter for ORU, wherever he went. After we finished washing our hands in the men’s bathroom, Oral looked at me one more time and said “remember, young man, keep your eyes focused on Jesus and when you finish High School, go to ORU. It was a pleasure to meet you.” At the time, my little twelve year old mind didn’t fully recognize exactly who I was speaking with. To me, it was just another old preacher our church invited to come speak. After leaving church, I went home and did some research on who Oral Roberts was and what exactly is Oral Roberts University. I didn’t expect that a small interaction with a great leader could change the course of my life’s direction forever. After researching tuition costs, I probably should have asked Oral for a full four-year scholarship, when we were talking in the bathroom.
Now, years later and being a graduate from Oral Roberts University, people always asked me, what made you choose ORU? I always told them, “Chancellor Roberts was my recruiter and he told me to keep my eyes focused on Jesus and to go to ORU; it made sense.” After looking back on my past decisions in my life, going to ORU was the smartest financial investment I’ve ever made. The learning experience, the relationships and the ministry investment was so worth it.
If you’re an ORU grad, what’s your story? Or if you are a pastor or ministry leader that has had multiple learning experiences and humorous stories by interacting with Oral Roberts over the years we would love to hear them and share them with our online community of young leaders. If so, post your story on the our website below. Or tweet them to us @davidlawrenceatx and hit #impelOralRoberts.