Spirit of Grace Ministries
Spirit of Grace Ministries
-- Feeding Jesus' sheep
-- Equipping His servants
-- Proclaiming His Gospel

When God Reinvents You


By Dennis Pollock

Oral Roberts is a fascinating character in the annals of the Christian church. As the years roll by since his passing, a new generation of Christians has grown up that knows little of him. But among those familiar with him, there are many opinions. Some feel he was a typical hyper-charismatic fringe minister; others see him as a genuine man of God. Clearly, he made a few errors in judgment throughout his ministry, and some can never forget these or forgive him for them. But if you read any serious attempts to chronicle his life and ministry (and I have read several), and if you are fair minded, you cannot help but conclude that Oral was a genuine man of God who hit some major home runs in his life, and struck out a few times as well.

There is one major decision Oral made which has always impressed me deeply. In the early days of his healing ministry, he traveled around America with a large tent which could house thousands of people, holding healing and evangelistic services which lasted long into the night. After preaching, Oral would typically sit in a chair and have people that wanted to be prayed for stand in a line. They would then pass by him, one by one, and he would pray individually for each one of them. When he felt the anointing had lifted, he would stop and then pray for people the next night who hadn’t received individual attention the night before.

Praying for people one by one took a long time, and yet most people would stay throughout the prayer time, waiting and watching for dramatic healings. Not all reported healing, of course. Most did not. But some did, and nearly every night there were a few dramatic healings that shook the crowd and made them glad to have waited so long. When Oral first started this ministry, he was one of the pioneers of the healing movement among the Pentecostals. It was fresh and new and often electrifying, and people could not get enough of it. He soon had huge crowds and was frequently covered by the American press. He became a national figure almost overnight. When he filmed some of his meetings and showed them in an edited form on television, Oral Roberts became a household name in the 1950’s. Soon many other evangelists were imitating him, and crisscrossing America with their tents and their “healing revivals.” One healing evangelist ordered a tent that was slightly larger than Oral’s tent, so that he could boast of having the largest ministry tent in America.

Changing Times

Throughout the 1950’s Oral seemed indefatigable. He was a man on a mission, God was blessing his ministry enormously, and he was developing supporters by the thousands who were eager to fund his ministry and any projects he might conceive. But by the early to mid-1960’s healing tent evangelism was beginning to wane. The novelty had worn off and new ways and styles were emerging in the body of Christ. What had been electrifying and dynamic in 1952 was a bit old hat and corny in the 60’s. The crowds and the offerings grew smaller, and the number of healing evangelists roaming the highways of America began to diminish.

Oral Roberts seemed to recognize that if he was to remain relevant and fruitful in ministry, he would have to lay down the traveling tent ministry and focus on other things. In the 1960’s and early 70’s he began to do fewer and fewer “crusade” meetings until he finally stopped them totally, put his tent away, and never looked back. Roberts instead began to focus on creating television specials, building a Christian university, and a major hospital complex where faith and cutting-edge medical practices could be merged. The hospital, called the City of Faith, became a constant drain on the ministry’s funds. Even Oral’s faith and fund-raising ability could not keep up with the ever-increasing expenses, and eventually the City of Faith had to be closed. The TV specials were hugely successful for a time and made Oral Roberts more famous than ever. The university, named ORU grew into an enormous campus and those who attended and graduated from it have made a phenomenal impact for good and for Christ throughout the world. Some of its more famous alumni include Kathie Lee Gifford, Joel Osteen, and Don Moen. Thousands of believers have been equipped there to go out and bear much fruit for and through Jesus. ORU is surely one of the most influential Christian universities in the history of Christianity.

We have a term which is frequently used to describe those who change their careers mid-stream. We say that such a man or woman has “reinvented” himself or herself. Of course, Christians don’t really see this as something we do on our own. We would be more comfortable labeling it “being reinvented by God.” Most of the healing evangelists who were contemporaries of Oral didn’t seem to experience this. Some backslid, others died prematurely, and many no doubt floundered around throughout their lives, never being able to recapture their former fruitfulness. Oral was the exception. Whatever the reason, he seemed to be able to flow with the currents of the times and adapt to the ever-changing styles and movements that wax and wane in the church of Jesus Christ.

This has always been a powerful lesson to me. If anyone was ever a stickler for routine, I surely must lead the pack. I love doing things the exact same way year after year and season after season. And while that can work for quite a while, it usually will not work for a lifetime. Our lives are filled with new and changing seasons that call for adjustments, changes, and sometimes even allowing God to completely overhaul and reinvent our lives and ministries. What worked beautifully ten years ago may stall and fail today. We cannot be so locked into the forms of how we have done things in the past, that we can never change our ways in the present.

Outreach Transformed

When I joined the staff of Lamb & Lion Ministries, led by David Reagan, the major focus of the ministry was teaching and preaching the return of Jesus Christ through radio (and preaching in various churches). But the radio was our main form of outreach. After joining the ministry, I was astounded when David encouraged me to do about a third of the radio programs.

Whenever we travelled to preach throughout the nation, people would tell us how much that radio program meant to them. Many of them would relate that they were marginal Christians until they started hearing Dave teaching about Jesus’ return on the radio. They soon became regular listeners and in a short time their spiritual lives were entirely resuscitated. They became active in their churches, started reading the Bible regularly, evangelizing, and in short, became what we would call “on-fire” Christians. As I heard these testimonies over and over again, I could not help but conclude that this radio program, aired on numerous stations throughout America, was making a significant impact on many people and was producing much good fruit.

But one day, David surprised the staff by announcing that the Lord was calling him to begin a TV ministry. He began to purchase cameras and video equipment and he hired a man to be our director and video producer. It was breathtaking how quickly things came together.

But the thing that surprised me the most was the decision Dave made to drop the radio ministry altogether once the television show was launched. The radio program was doing so well and was nearly paying for itself with all the donations grateful listeners were sending us. It seemed painful for me to drop it. I think I may have asked, “Couldn’t we do both ministries – radio and television?” But Dave was insistent that the Holy Spirit was saying to drop radio cold turkey and focus entirely on television ministry. And that is exactly what happened.

The Gamble of Television

It was an enormous gamble. To be on Christian television is an expensive proposition, and if you don’t start getting some serious donations coming in almost immediately, you could go under in a year’s time. I must confess, I had some concerns, but it turned out that Dave Reagan had truly heard from God. When the program aired, the response was immediate. People loved the program and began to send generous contributions to support it. We did, in fact, lose some supporters who could no longer hear us on radio, but we gained far more supporters through our television programs. Like Oral Roberts, David Reagan had allowed God to “reinvent” him. And as a result, his ministry was multiplied many times over.

There is a fascinating story of three lepers who sat at the gate of Jerusalem while the city was being besieged by the Syrians. The whole city was slowly starving as a result of the total blockade, and the lepers knew they had to do something. Finally one said to the others, “Why do we sit here until we die? Let us surrender to the army of the Syrians… If they keep us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall only die.” That statement “Why sit here until we die?” has spoken to me numerous times throughout my life. There are times when God’s children are in a situation that God is no longer blessing. It may have been blessed in times past, but today the blessing has lifted and we feel like we are suffocating. We will either change or we will die.

Sometimes that change involves a kind of reinvention. Our style, our ministry, our local church, our routine, our schedule, our form of prayer, our evangelistic efforts must experience a radical renovation if we are to continue moving forward and being more fruitful in our latter days than we were in our former ones.

Greatest Reinvention

God’s ultimate reinvention is called the new birth. Jesus said, “Unless a man is born again (reinvented by Christ) he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Those of us who follow Jesus know the time of our reinvention very well. In my case, I was a college student in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. I began my college days with no particular thoughts about God. Indeed, I wasn’t even certain if God existed. But during the second semester of my second year I started reading the New Testament, more out of curiosity than anything else. The Jesus that I met there captured my heart, and within a short time I began doing things I hadn’t done in a long time, things like praying, going to church, and asking God’s counsel about my life. Most importantly I surrendered all I had to Jesus and trusted Him as my Savior, convinced that God had truly raised Him from the dead. As a result, I was completely changed, and that change has stuck for the last 46 years. You might say I was reinvented. My ways, my attitudes, my behavior, my perspective on nearly everything was transformed.

Right to Reinvent

But God’s reinventions do not end at salvation. I have had numerous reinventions since then, some small and hard to perceive, and others huge and breathtaking. As much as I like my routines, I have learned not to hold them too tightly. Jesus is Lord not only of our hearts but also of our routines and our ways. And He reserves the right to change, upend, and overturn them any time He deems fit.

The apostle Paul had a magnificent ministry as he traveled throughout the Middle East, winning souls, planting churches, and healing the sick. But one day that ministry came to a screeching halt. Paul was arrested and put in chains for preaching the gospel. He could no longer travel, he could not plant churches, he had no large audiences to whom he could preach. It would seem that the great apostle had been stripped of his ministry. But there was one thing he could do, and he determined to do it. He picked up a pen and began to write: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God…” He made the most of his opportunities whether big or small, writing what we call his prison epistles, and our world has been infinitely enriched through them.

Let it be so with each of us as well. Whatever our circumstances, let us recognize Christ as our Savior, Creator, and Re-inventor, and learn to flow with His purposes and plans for our lives. And when He makes a sharp right-hand turn, let us immediately follow. His ways are always best.



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