Roberts Says God Told Him to Resign

By John Estus
The Oklahoman
November 28, 2007

TULSA — Richard Roberts' tears spilled this morning as he proclaimed that a Thanksgiving morning message from God convinced him to resign as president of ORU on Friday.

Roberts spoke softly as he began his brief address to students, faculty and staff in a chapel service. The crowd gave him a spirited standing ovation and many yelled: "We love you, Richard!"

Roberts described his downfall as ORU's president as a prophecy fulfilled. He said it began when a "man of God" called him June 2 and warned a "storm" against him was approaching.

"I said, 'thanks,'" Roberts joked, earning laughs. "I held that in my heart, and told virtually no one. Well, come the first of October, I found out what the storm was."

The storm was the scandalous lawsuit filed against Roberts and ORU by three former professors that set in motion the events that led Roberts to resign. The lawsuit included allegations he and his wife had improperly spent the cash-strapped university's money on a life of expensive private jet trips, shopping sprees, home renovations and more.

Wednesday, he called those allegations "lies" and "falsehoods" that "nearly destroyed" his family and ORU.

He said: "Every part of my flesh wanted to strike out at those who were persecuting me."

But he said God told him not to, so he weathered the storm.

"The word of the Lord came to me again, and said do not consider the dark days of October, but look to the day of thanks," Roberts said.

The next message came early Thanksgiving morning, when Roberts was praying.

"The Lord spoke to me. He said: 'Resign tomorrow,'" Roberts said.

Roberts stopped speaking to the crowd for a moment. His breathing became heavy and his tears returned. His voice cracked when he began speaking again.

"Every ounce" of his flesh told Roberts not to resign, but he said God persisted with an order to "do it tomorrow." Roberts said God also promised to do something "supernatural" for ORU if he resigned.

Roberts gripped the glass podium and sniffled. He wiped away a tear with a handkerchief.

"I said, 'God, it's too much. I love the university too much.' He said to me that because you love it, that is why you must do it."

Friday, he sent his resignation letter to ORU's board of regents.

Sunday, a wealthy Oklahoma City businessman with no connections to ORU contacted interim president Billy Joe Daugherty with a proposal to donate $70 million of his family's fortune to ORU if the university changed the way it did its business.

Tuesday, an announcement about the proposed donation was made by the Green family, who founded the Christian supply store chain Mardel and Hobby Lobby. Mart Green said Tuesday it was Richard Roberts' decision to resign that showed him the debt-stricken university could change for the better.

To Roberts, Green's proposed donation is a prophecy fulfilled.

When he met Mart Green for the first time Monday, Roberts said the man looked him the eye and said the decision to offer the donation "was not because of what you said, it was because of what you did."

The crowd cheered when Roberts said he'll begin working full time for the family's healing ministry again. He remains the CEO of Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, which regents recently decided to separate from ORU.

"I believe with all my heart the best for ORU is yet to come," Roberts said before leaving the stage to applause.

He then returned to the chapel's stage to pray alongside Daugherty and regents chairman George Pearsons.

Again, emotion overtook Roberts. He wept, and his face turned red. His tears made him shake as he prayed.

Pearsons consoled Roberts, gently placing his hands on his friend's shoulders and holding him steady throughout the remainder of the prayer.

Roberts left through a side door following the prayer.


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