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Monday, February 25, 2013

Reflecting on the life of TL Osborn

LEGACY: Renowned evangelist TL Osborn died on February 14 this year. Dennis D. Muhumuza writes that many Ugandans remember him for his powerful crusades held three times in Uganda. He was an inspiration to many Pentecostal pastors.

The late Osborn did so much for Uganda
He heeded Jesus' call to go make disciples of all nations and went everywhere, preaching the gospel. After 77 years of doing it passionately, Dr. T.L Osborn went to be with the Lord on February 14, 2013, but his legacy will continue to speak for itself.

Just here in Uganda, he held miracle crusades in 1961, 1985 and 1991 at which many got saved, delivered and inspired to join ministry. At the February 1985 crusade at Lugogo Cricket Oval, Osborn stunned everyone by removing a gown he had worn for 35 years and putting it on his interpreter, Ps Robert Kayanja, saying go and preach the gospel.

It is said the anointing that came with the gesture is what revolutionised the blessings of the man that today heads Uganda's biggest Pentecostal Church, Miracle Centre Cathedral Rubaga.

"I believe hell would be here on earth if Dr T.L Osborn was not born and anointed," says Ps Kayanja of his spiritual mentor, whose friendship, advice and wisdom he will continue to miss. "But I know he is with Jesus whom he loved and represented so well."

Apostle Alex Mitala of the National Fellowship of Born-Again Pentecostal Churches was also inspired into evangelism first through Osborn gospel tracts and books, particularly Go Where the Sinners Are, and his teachings.

"He gave us free megaphones to use in our gospel street meetings and trained us in many of his evangelistic meetings in Kenya in 1978," he says. "I was privileged to serve on both of his last gospel crusade committees in Uganda and with my eyes saw many great miracles in Uganda and also in Nakuru-Kenya in 1978. Uganda will forever miss T.L."

So powerful were Osborn's missions that many parents named their children after the evangelist. Ps Osborn Muyanja of Good Samaritan Ministries is one such child. He relates a story of a man with twisted legs he saw healed at Osborn’s crusade.

"I got saved too and my life has never remained the same," he says adding that the preaching of Daisy, Osborn's wife was the first to inspire Ugandan women into believing they too can preach. "“Osborn's crusades launched Uganda into another dimension. People shut their shops and went to Lugogo," Muyanja reminisces, "That thirst and hunger for God should return."

 Ps Michael Kyazze of Omega Healing Centre also remembers how Osborn's crusades reignited the fires of revival in Uganda at a time when Pentecostal Churches were struggling to re-emerge from the worship ban slapped on them by Idi Amin in mid 1970's.

"Through Osborn, we upcoming ministers saw that even the evangelists can be men of the Word and very apt teachers. I do not remember Osborn as a loose prosperity preacher, but a man of great integrity and passion," he says. "He also brought the first readable Christian literature for all to read and understand the working of the Holy Spirit which were distributed for free to all people who attended his crusade. We will truly miss him but will sure meet him in glory."

A simple background
Born Tommy Lee Osborn on a potato farm in 1923 in Oklahoma, U.S., among 13 children, he was converted at 13 and got inspired by another powerful preacher, Oral Roberts, who was a family friend.
In 1944, Osborn opened his own church, but feeling its walls would limit him to spread the gospel to all nations as Jesus would have loved, so he went to India as a missionary. He was hungry to see the might of the Lord delivering people but still needed lessons in patience and fervent praying.

In 1947, he attended a crusade organised by the then famous miracle minister William Branham at which the blind received sight, the deaf heard, and the crippled walked; deliverances Osborn had never witnessed, and that inspired him to fast and pray for such power. His prayers were answered with a visitation from Jesus Himself who promised to be with him as He had been with others.

The fiery preacher believed and started holding healing crusades around the world, starting with Jamaica. By 1980s, he had preached in over 70 countries. He also established the Association of Native Evangelism to support local pastors in all ways and plant churches. Meanwhile, audio and visual recordings of Osborn's sermons enjoyed preeminent demand and so did his books and tracts which were translated in 132 languages.

His indefatigability was attributed to a strict diet, exercises and absolute reliance on the Holy Spirit. That he eluded the financial and moral dents that destroy many men of God also testifies to his closeness with his Master, Jesus Christ, and added to the potency of his TBN/LTV sermons.

Osborn died peacefully. His daughter LaDonna Osborn tweeted that there was no pain or sickness: "The Lord simply took away his breath. My father was wrapped in love, his family surrounding him as he stepped through the veil into eternity. He is now in the presence of Jesus, whom he had served faithfully for 77 years."

Here was a man who ran his race, and who many believe will be welcomed at the gate of heaven with the Scriptural words: "Well done good and faithful servant."