Experience as teen led T.L. Osborn to start on path to ministry
BY BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
Saturday, February 23, 2013
2/23/13 at 6:20 AM
Related story: T.L. Osborn's passing marks 'end of an era'
Tommy Lee "T.L." Osborn was born Dec. 23, 1923, on a family farm in Pocasset in Grady County, the 12th of 13 children.
"I was raised on a farm; that was all I knew," he said in a 2009 interview.
When he was 13, living on the family farm near Tulsa, an older brother took him to a small church in Mannford, where he committed his life to Christ.
He began to help a young pastor of a church in Sand Springs named Oral Roberts, six years his senior, with evangelistic meetings.
Roberts often came to the Osborn farm for fried chicken dinner on Sundays.
When Osborn was 15, he had an unusual experience near his house that set him on the path to ministry.
"I was going into the woods to get the milk cows, and I was crying," he said.
"I didn't know why I was crying. I knelt down by a great big sandstone boulder and I asked the Lord, 'Why am I crying? I don't know why.' "
"I heard: 'Would you cry if you thought you might someday be a preacher?'
"I laughed. I looked like an idiot out there, laughing and crying. That was the first time I ever considered it."
Later that year, an evangelist asked him to travel with him, to help reach young people.
He dropped out of school after the eighth grade and for the next 2 1/2 years traveled with the evangelist, speaking at Friday night youth services.
In California he met a young violinist and clarinetist named Daisy. A year later, when he was 18, they were married.
The young couple ministered together in churches on the West Coast for several years and then decided to become missionaries to India.
There, they found Hindus and Muslims who were nice to them and wanted to talk about God but who wanted proof that the Bible was right.
"I couldn't prove that the Bible was right. That was when we made the decision to go home," he said.
They returned to California frustrated and feeling like failures.
Someone there told them about the success a young evangelist named Oral Roberts was having in Oklahoma.
Excited to hear about his childhood friend, Osborn moved back to Tulsa, reconnected with Roberts and began to attend his tent meetings.
"That had a terrific effect on me," he said.
Then he had another experience that changed his life.
He went to hear a woman preacher talk on the subject "If you ever see Jesus, you'll never be the same again."
"The next morning, Jesus Christ walked into my bedroom," Osborn said. "He didn't walk on the floor, he walked on a cloud, his eyes seemed to burn with fire, but not like hate fire, but loving fire.
"It was awesome - I was happy, I was frightened, I was changed. I laid on the floor for eight hours, unable to get up. It was life-changing. I can't explain it."
Later, at a healing service he attended, a voice was saying to him: "You can do that. You're one of his disciples."
Encouraged by that, the Osborns held their own healing service and invited the sick.
"The church was full," he said. "God knows idiots when he sees them, but he was good to me. Everything we touched was healed."
That launched a healing ministry that spanned the globe over the next several decades.
In 1995, Daisy Osborn died, forcing him to go on without his co-minister and life partner. He never remarried.
The Osborns have been based in Tulsa since 1949. From 1963 to 2008 their headquarters were at Skelly Drive and Peoria Avenue in a building that also housed a museum with an extensive display of art and artifacts they had collected from around the world.
In 2008, when the state razed the building to widen Interstate 44, they relocated to 555 S. Memorial Drive, where the ministry remains.
Original Print Headline: Experience as teen led Osborn to start on path to ministry
Bill Sherman 918-581-8398