Growing up, Oral wanted to become an attorney and governor of Oklahoma. At the age of fifteen, he left home for Atoka, Oklahoma to go to high school and play basketball. He studied diligently while holding down three jobs, often neglecting his physical needs.
In February 1935, while making a lay-up in a high school basketball game, Oral Roberts collapsed on the floor, hemorrhaging from tuberculosis. He was seventeen.
Touched by his father’s words, “Son, I won’t let you die and go to hell,” Oral watched the tears flow from his father’s eyes. Suddenly a bright light shone and his father’s face disappeared. In its place, Oral saw a vision of Jesus. He called on the God he had run from, crying, “Save me, Jesus. Save me.”
Oral was still very ill with tuberculosis. In faith, Oral’s brother took him and the family to see evangelist George Moncey, who prayed for the sick. On the way, Oral heard the voice of Jesus for the first time.
Someday you are to build Me a University.
You are to build it on My authority and on the Holy Spirit.
Brother Moncey anointed Oral with oil and laid his hands on him. Moncey spoke directly to the disease, saying, “You foul, tormenting disease, I command you in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, come out of this boy and loose him and let him go.”
Instantly, as Moncey prayed, Oral Roberts could breathe deeply from both lungs with no coughing or sputtering up blood. The stuttering, stammering tongue that had so long plagued him was also healed by the power of God.
Oral began to preach with his father, telling the story of his healing to everyone. In 1936, Oral was ordained and began to preach on his own. During one of his meetings, he met his future wife, Evelyn Lutman. They were married two years later.
Oral published his first book, Salvation by the Blood, in 1937. And in 1939, Oral and Evelyn’s first child, Rebecca, was born.