Tommy Lee Osborn: A man that touched the world
Tommy Lee (T.L.) Osborn stepped through the veil into eternity peacefully, at home surrounded by four generations of his beloved family on February 14th 2013 shortly after asking His Lord Jesus, “Take me home!” He was 89.
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, than any other family in history. For over five decades, evangelist T.L.
Osborn and his wife, Daisy, who died in 1995, held open-field crusades in developing countries, drawing an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 people to each event. All told, millions of lives have been directly changed by Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Osborn International in their over six decades of existences. Dr. Osborn was the first modern day 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.
Besides preaching at the crusades, Osborn prayed for the masses—without laying hands on anyone—and subsequently saw countless miracles take place. Some of the more astounding occurrences had included the instantaneous healing of leprosy, blindness and crippled legs, and deliverance from demon possession. On more than one occasion, the Osborns witnessed uneven limbs growing out to the proper length.
Osborn was one of the first charismatic ministers to distribute bulk amounts of translated evangelical literature. The most common practice had been to give a set of six Osborn-penned books to all crusade attendees who will accept the gift. As many as 70,000 copies of each title have been printed per outreach event, and one instance required an astonishing 56 tons to be shipped.
Osborn and his family have conducted their ministry with no fanfare, no attempt to conform to the personality-driven culture of the American church, and little regard for their own personal safety or comfort.
“That’s where we’ve chosen to seed our lives and I’m happy about it,” Osborn said during a rare interview granted to Charisma. “I live happy. I live happy to go again, help them again. “Travel is awful, but when I think it’s awful, I think of Paul. Paul did it. Paul rode on a donkey or on a camel or on a boat, and he didn’t gripe. I won’t gripe. I just keep going.”
How It All Began
Randomly ask 100 native Oklahomans where the town of Skedee is, and at least 99 of them say they never heard of the place. But in 1923, the nondescript farming community produced a child who would quite literally change the world. Tommy Lee Osborn was the seventh and youngest son in a family of 13 kids. Ironically, his father was also a seventh son.
“That’s supposed to mean something,” he joked.
Turns out, it did mean something.
Osborn’s father was a non-practicing traditional Baptist, but T.L. attended a Pentecostal church, where he played piano and accordion. A neighbouring evangelist heard him play and asked if he would join him in his national travels. At that time, Osborn’s brothers all had left home and he was the only son still there to help his 60-year-old father on the potato farm.
Osborn admits that he was reluctant, even a little scared, to ask his father for permission to leave Skedee and hit the road. That fateful day while sorting potatoes in the cellar, he was greatly surprised when his father said yes.
About two years into his travels, Osborn found himself at a revival in California. By the time the event ended, he knew he wouldn’t be going back to the farm. He had caught a glimpse of the evangelist’s daughter, and it was love at first sight.
A year later, in 1942, the teenagers were married—T.L. was 18 and Daisy 17. Not long after, they took on the pastorate in Portland, Oregon, for the Pentecostal Church of God of America. But after hearing a female missionary from India speak at their church, they immediately felt a tug toward international outreach.