Oral Robert's death at the age of 91 on Tuesday this past week caused me to reflect on the 3 months of my life that I lived a stone's throw from Oral Roberts University (ORU) in Tulsa. I was taking a short break from studies at age 21 between my time at Penn State and Dallas Theological Seminary.  Working for Dowell Schlumberger, I moved to Tulsa to attend their global training center for field engineers.  Every day I drove past that huge gold tower which at the time, and from my perspective, represented the failed vision of a Christian who came from a dramatically different evangelical camp than my own. (The huge City of Faith Medical and Research Center in 1991 was a vacant building, closed in 1989 after the highly publicized 8 million dollar crusade of 1986.)

But I share all of that as a backdrop to my greatest learning from Oral Roberts. While living there I developed a band of friends who attended ORU. The primary thing I remember is a vibrancy of faith and an integrity of character that outshone many of my less charismatic brothers and sisters.  During those months, their lives slowly began to transform my negative perceptions of ORU especially when I drove by the glittering landmarks. What I learned is:

#1 The integrity of the people surrounding your vision will go along way to validate it.

But years later and after many turns that brought me to be a "professional visioneer" there is a second learning that I appreciate even more. Perhaps that's because it lies at the root of my own holy discontent- that so many Christian leaders take the path of least resistance by "borrowing" the vision of others.  In this regard Oral Roberts was a giant. His sole passion was executing his life calling directly from the voice of God.  Again, whatever your theological convictions, consider the broadest implications of this idea from a visioning standpoint. Oral Roberts reminds us that:

#2 If your vision does not reflect the voice of God toward you, it is but an echo toward someone else.

Listen to what Oral Roberts said before his death:

"After I'm gone, others will have to judge how well I've obeyed God's command not to be an echo but to be a voice like Jesus," the statement said. "As far as my own conviction is concerned, I've tried to be that voice with every fiber of my being, regardless of the cost."

Even at the founding of ORU, he wanted his students to hear God's voice. Here is his vision that God gave him:

“Raise up your students to hear My voice, to go where My light is dim, where My voice is heard small, and My healing power is not known, even to the uttermost bounds of the earth. Their work will exceed yours, and in this I am well pleased."

However your own faith journey interprets the contribution of Oral Roberts, I will always be impressed by my taste of integrity and his undeniably unique kingdom vision.  Read the CNN story.
Topics: Date: Dec 19, 2009 Tags: Oral Roberts / Unique vision