EXCLUSIVE: Oral Roberts' Son Talks About His Father's Life, Legacy
By LeAnne Taylor, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- The son of Oral Roberts is sharing about the loss of his dad and his life in the shadow of this pioneering evangelist.
Richard Roberts spoke exclusively to News on 6 anchor LeAnne Taylor. Roberts said it has been an emotional week for him and his family.
They knew at 91, Oral Roberts was nearing the end of an incredible life. When Richard got the call his dad had fallen, he and his sister flew immediately to be by his side.
"I was next to his bed, Roberta was on the other side. I had his right hand in mine and I was determined that I was going to be there. And I saw him as he took his last breath on this earth and when he took his first breath in heaven," said Richard Roberts, Oral Roberts' son. "It was an awesome moment, LeAnne. It was the most peaceful moment, most spiritual, most dignified moment I've ever experienced in my life… I'm determined not to cry… but we've shed buckets of tears this week. It's been an experience that I don't know adequately how to describe it," said Richard.
When asked what it was like growing up the son of Oral Roberts, Richard said it was good and bad.
"It was good because I had a father full of integrity whose word was his bond. You didn't have to have a contract with Oral Roberts. If he told you something, he'd do it. If he told you he was gonna give you a spanking, he'd give you a spanking, but his word was his bond," said Richard. "It was difficult because he traveled a lot and there were times when I was young that he'd be gone for almost two weeks out of a month. That was very difficult.
"It was difficult because he was the butt of a lot of jokes. When I was in school, kids would run up and say cruel things and it would hurt and sometimes the teachers would say cruel things, it hurt. It drove me inside myself. It made me not want to have anything to do with God," Richard said.
"I loved my dad. I loved his ministry, but I didn't want to be a Christian, to face this persecution. I know more about it today than I did then, but it was difficult, and yet it was great at the same time.
"There was a time when he and I were estranged. In fact, there was a time when I told him to get the hell out of my life and he said, ‘that's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to get the hell out of your life.' But when I was 19, I was in college and I gave my heart to the lord and my dad's and my relationship was healed and I joined his ministry and I have been with him ever since and that was in 1968."
LeAnne Taylor: "Your dad was not without controversy. You mentioned the jokes and the criticism."
Richard Roberts: "I don't remember when he wasn't criticized."
LeAnne Taylor: "The 900 foot Jesus, the God's gonna call me home... people know the story, critics bring it up. Did that bother your dad?"
Richard Roberts: "To some extent because he was misquoted. The media had a field day. They took what he said and they turned it around and they made it something that he didn't say and the media often does that.
"He was not the type to defend himself," Richard said. "He said, ‘God is my defense and God will sustain me and he will uphold me and he will preserve me.' And he always did and I think that's one reason why there has been such an outpouring of love from all over the world."
Oral Roberts will be remembered at his namesake university Monday. The memorial service begins at 2 p.m. at the ORU Mabee Center.
The News on 6 will broadcast the service live and NewsOn6.com will have live streaming coverage.
The News On 6 will share more of this interview on Sunday night, including what was written inside Oral Roberts' personal Bible and even more surprising, who wrote it.
Plus we'll have extended portions of the interview on Monday morning on Six in the Morning.