Tommy Lee Osborn was born to Charles and Mary Osborn on December 23, 1923 and, as one of thirteen children, was raised in poverty on a farm in Oklahoma. At fourteen years of age he experienced the presence of God and heard His voice saying that he would become a preacher. He became a minister in a small Pentecostal Church of God and after a discouraging year in India as a missionary he returned sick and disappointed and settled into a small local church in McMinnville, Oregon, in 1946.
In the summer of 1947 William Branham held a campaign in Portland, Oregon. Osborn's wife, Daisy, was in the audience. She convinced her husband that he should attend the next evening meeting. He observed: As I watched Brother Branham minister to the sick, I was especially captivated by the deliverance of a little deaf-mute girl over whom he prayed thus: "Thou deaf and dumb spirit, I adjure thee in Jesus' name, leave the child," and when he snapped his fingers, the girl heard and spoke perfectly. When I witnessed this, there seemed to be a thousand voices speaking to me at once, all in one accord saying over and over, "You can do that." This experience began a unique missionary ministry that has reached tens of thousands for God across the world.
Gordon Lindsay saw that Osborn was unusually gifted so provided the encouragement, finance and publicity to help him launch his own independent ministry the next spring.
This meeting made history in that area. . . . Enough funds were raised in the campaign to purchase the tent that had been used for the meeting. From that time on this evangelist had large audiences wherever he went in America.
But his major ministry was overseas, where he increasingly turned his attention, working alongside Pentecostal missionaries.
From the beginning of his ministry Osborn saw tremendous successes in foreign campaigns. In his first five years he conducted crusades in eleven countries and preached to millions. Early in his ministry he experienced revival in Cuba where over 50,000 professed conversion to Christ. In Chile, as many as 100,000 persons packed the stadium to attend a single service. Osborn wrote that he was moved by the "alarming challenge of the heathen masses everywhere dying without Christ" and felt "compelled by the Spirit" to "bear a miraculous gospel" to all the world.'
This missionary fervour was fanned in 1953 when he received "the vision for native evangelism." He was convinced that native workers should be trained to follow up the mass crusades held by the healing evangelists and formed the Association for Native Evangelism. He partnered with many Pentecostal groups in this venture who valued his expertise and financial support.
In 1956, he began to publish his own magazine, Faith Digest and the Osborn ministry included seventeen workers, a modest building in Tulsa, and an impressive program of foreign mission work. Two years later, the ministry reported astonishing growth. Faith Digest, which had begun with a circulation of 12,000, was being printed at a rate of 250,000 copies per month. Osborn had produced and was circulating a movie dramatizing his work and had begun a radio ministry costing $10,000 per month.
Often amidst huge crowds numbering many tens of thousands Osborn developed the technique described as "praying for the sick en masse, thus eliminating the long healing lines and human limitations." Sensational healings and miracles often took place in his campaigns and the major healing ministries always regarded him as a scrupulously honest reporter. Many saw revelations of the Lord during the meetings and felt Christ's presence in an unusual way.
In 1961, Osborn summarized the nine-point program of his wide-ranging ministry:
1. Mass evangelism. Osborn still held overseas campaigns which often drew crowds of 10,000 to 100,000 persons.
2. Native missionaries. "Each month," continued the report, "nearly $50,000.00 is sent . . . to assist an army of many hundreds of Native Missionaries preaching the Gospel in unreached areas of 70 countries under the supervision of missionaries of nearly 60 Full Gospel mission agencies."
3. Foreign literature. Osborn estimated that 14 invested in literature could save a soul and his organization was providing millions of pieces throughout the world.
4. A program of "co-evangelism," in which films were supplied to groups wishing to support his program.
5. Books and tracts, widely distributed in the United States.
6. Tapes and records of his sermons, sold and distributed.
7. Faith Digest, his monthly paper, circulated free to over a half a million homes in 113 countries.
8. Osborn films, supplied to foreign missionaries.
9. Correspondence. "Each month," continued the report, "thousands of letters are received asking for help and guidance in spiritual matters. Every letter is carefully considered and individually answered."
All of this produced great respect for his ministry and guaranteed a strong financial basis for his work.
In the late 1960s he temporarily turned his main attention from missions abroad to a youth revival in the United States. It was a timely move as the ‘Jesus Revolution’ had already begun to sweep over the nations’ young. He adopted the language of the young, used the familiar "one way" and even changed his hair style and wardrobe in an effort to identify with young people.
T. L. Osborn entered the 1970’s as one of the most powerful and successful fund-raisers among the independent ministers and again turned his attention to overseas mission programs.
By the early 1970’s he had preached in nearly fifty different countries. Always promoting indigenous churches he pioneered the support of native preachers and supported such missionaries in nearly fifty thousand villages and areas.
The Osborn Ministries International website proudly declares ‘Throughout their ministry, The Osborn's have personally witnessed the miraculous healing of multitudes of people. The ministry of T.L. and Daisy Osborn has made an unprecedented impact on the world. Together with their daughter Dr. LaDonna Osborn, they have probably reached and led more unreached souls to Christ, and may have witnessed more great healing miracles, that any other family in history.’
‘Dr. T.L. Osborn, world missionary evangelist, statesman, teacher, author, publisher, linguist, designer, pianist, and administrator is best known for his mass-miracle ministry to millions. With his wife & associate minister, Dr. Daisy Washburn Osborn, they established their headquarters in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1949. Together they proclaimed the Gospel to millions of unreached people in over 90 nations for well over half a century of world-changing missionary evangelism, preaching daily to multitudes from 20,000 to 300,000 people with God confirming his Word by many astounding miracles.’
‘Dr. Osborn was the first missionary evangelist to go to open fields or parks, in non-Christian nations, to proclaim Christ and to pray for miracles as proof that He is alive. Today it has become standard procedure. The Osborn DocuMiracle films and videos in 70 languages have been shown in thousands of villages and towns in one hundred and fifteen nations, influencing millions to believe the Gospel. The Osborn National Missionary Assistance Program has sponsored over 30,000 national men and women as full time Missionaries to unevangelized tribes and villages. Over 150,000 new churches have been established and have become self-supporting through this evangelism program.’
‘Over 30,000 missionaries-over 150,000 churches through this evangelism program.’
‘As a prolific writer, Dr. T.L. Osborn’s books have stimulated today’s worldwide miracle-evangelism and soulwinning awakening in the developing nations. His living classic, Healing the Sick, has been a faith-building best seller since 1951, and over one million copies are in print in English alone.’
‘Several of Dr. T.L.’s books such as Soulwinning, God’s Love Plan, The Good Life and The Message That Works, are pacesetters in lifting people to positive faith and super living. They have become textbooks in Bible schools around the world and are esteemed as prime reference materials for successful pastors and church leaders.’
What an astounding testimony!
Bibliography: D. Harrell, Jr., All Things Are Possible (1975); OMI website at http://www.osborn.org