TL Osborn: Grandfather of Evangelism

T.L. Osborn was one of the most humble men I know and one of the most anointed I know. He had been all over the world and led more people to Christ than anyone in history but you would not know it chatting with him at a coffeehouse in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was just that humble.

The man is known as the grandfather of mass evangelism for a reason though. He lived for the gospel. He believe the soul winning was the chief calling of every believer. He is right too. We might not like the fact that we are to preach the gospel but that does not change the great commission. Preach the gospel and you must use words!

The purpose of a spirit filled life is to demonstrate the supernatural power of our living God so that the unsaved multitudes will abandon their dead gods to call upon the name of The Lord and be delivered. (T.L. Osborn) 

I remember the last time I saw him before he checked out for his heavenly reward. He was decicidating the new ministry center on Memorial in Tulsa. (The famous old one was part of the new highway project). I was struggling with doing a conference in Congo at the time. I have every reason to go but I also had every reason to not to go. He talked to me and with a smile on his face, “If you do not go, who will? They need the gospel.”  It was the tipping point for me to go to Congo.


TL Osborn was a man of faith & action

We all know that without works, our faith is dead but most of us still have a life void of any real works for the Lord. We do not do the great commission. We do not feed the hungry. We do not see visit those who are locked in their homes or in prisons. We know we should but we don’t.

Brother Osborn was always the sweet, loving, and compassionate guy that would kick up in the backside to remind us what the Bible told us about the gospel. I am not sure I have seen a person with a better grip on the issue on soteriology (doctrine of salvation) in my life. He had some serious revelation and it was all scriptural based.

He is the man you could not help but love. He has passion for the things of the Spirit, cared about people and have a devotion to the New Testament. He is everything a man of God should be.

He lived with a deep concern that we have preached faith, destroyed hope and ignore love in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement. We pushed faith so much because lost hope if they did not see their naming did not become claiming.

The hallmark of TL Osborn was his commitment to preaching the compassion of Jesus, not the fire of hell. He did not have a problem with people preaching hell, fire, and brimstone but he focused on compassion as his niche of the gospel.

Every time I met him, I walked away with a deeper love for people, a deeper commitment to the great commission, and a deeper understanding of soteriology. That was the TL Osborn that I knew.


He understood the Pentecostal mission

There is only one purpose of pentecost; that is to effectively evangelize lost souls. (TL Osborn)

Those words would give us the heartbeat of Pentecostal ministries from Azusa Street and even since. The problem is many of the Spirit-filled ministries today are worried about everything but actually doing the Great Commission. Pentecost was always about reaching the lost at any cost.  He has a deep conviction that signs and wonders must confirm the gospel. The good news is Jesus had the same view on the subject.

The message was always at the core of anything that he did: the gospel of Jesus Christ. He did not try and make it creative. He believed the gospel presented just as it was powerful. He led more people to the cross that any man in history, including Billy Graham, in the process as well.

It was the simplicity of the gospel that was his hallmark. He did not live like most of the faith preachers of his era. He put as much money as he could in the gospel work around the nation. Until his day, his publication were made very cheap (and you could tell) so he could give away books to people in Africa.




TL Osborn changed the world

I had the privilege of standing next to him in Manila, Philippines when he came with Mike Francen for a gospel crusade in 2000. I was a young, big, buff guy that told to run “security” for him. I was more interested in impartation than security to be honest. After all, I though the angels were provided a hedge of protection pretty well myself.

The time I spend with him in the Philippines was a great time and it really changed some of my focus in life. It was not until years later that I was freed up to just do evangelism but one of the prophetic moments that made that happen was the four days I worked security for TL Osborn.

The people that he touched are many and I am happy to say I am in that company. I have many friends that also was touched over the years by him. He carried a mantle for evangelism that few have. That mantle has yet to be picked up. I wonder if the burden is too much for one man to bear.

I believe we need a movement of crusade evangelists that will answer the call to preach the gospel from the stadiums of the world and reach the lost at any cost. Men (and women) who will stand up and declare the saving, healing, delivering and touching power of the Holy Spirit to a world that is broken and downcast.