Evangelist says devil gave him disease

Monday, November 22nd 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Evangelist Oral Roberts says Satan and God appeared to him during a four-month illness, which he likened to a biblical test of faith. Roberts, 81, made a rare appearance Sunday as a guest preacher at Victory Christian Center, which meets on the campus of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. The evangelist described an undiagnosed illness that began Feb.12. He said God had allowed the devil to send the debilitating illness as a test, like the story of Job in the Bible.

Roberts said he woke up the night of Feb. 12 in pain, suffering spasms that threw him from bed. His wife, Evelyn, found him crawling on the floor of their California condominium and called an ambulance, he said. Roberts said he drifted in and out of consciousness for nearly four months, suffered unbearable pain and needed a stomach tube for feeding.

In May, he said Satan appeared and talked to him. "He said, `Oral, you've done great damage to my kingdom ... I tried everything. I turned the media against you; I made them mock and ridicule you."' Roberts said the devil told him that he was upset that Roberts had convinced people that God would heal through prayer. "`God gave me the privilege to hit your body, and I put this pain on you,"' Roberts said the devil told him. Roberts said Satan left after Roberts quoted Job's words. Then, he said, God appeared. God told him the devil "`wanted to know your secret. I told him it was your obedience -- that obedience was better than sacrifice,'" Roberts said. "`When you quoted the word on him rather than using your own words on him, a thrill went through heaven,"' Roberts said God told him. "`Now I'm going to turn your captivity. I'm going to heal your pain.' "And suddenly, the pain was gone," Roberts said to cheers and applause.

Roberts said a team of doctors could not diagnose the illness. In March, Mrs. Roberts reported in a brief statement that her husband had suffered a heart attack and underwent a coronary angioplasty. In 1991, Roberts underwent two surgeries to widen his carotid arteries. In 1992, he was fitted with a pacemaker and underwent an angioplasty. The pacemaker was later removed. Roberts talked about the most recent illness during a two-hour sermon before a crowd of about 3,000. He said the "No. 1 sin" is unbelief.

Roberts, who moved to Newport Beach, Calif., after his retirement as Oral Roberts University president in 1993, also praised his successor -- his son, Richard Roberts. "He's doing a better job with ORU than I did," Roberts said, noting the school, founded in 1965,