T.L Osborn was perhaps the Greatest Missionary Evangelist Since the Apostle Paul. He and his wife Daisy traveled the world preaching to millions of people. God confirmed his preaching of the Gospel with signs, wonders and miracles just as Jesus had said.
In 1939, aged 15, Osborn was milking the cows when he began to cry. He fell on his knees, praying and asking God what was happening. The Lord, he said, called him to be an evangelist, while he laughed and cried at the same time, overwhelmed by what was happening to him. He dropped out of high school after completing eighth grade and hit the road with E.M. Dillard, a traveling evangelist. Osborn was responsible for organising evangelistic meetings and was also in charge of youth services in the evening. He traveled with Dillard through three states. The last one was California, and he met Daisy Washburn, in Los Banos, California at one of the meetings. It was 1941 and he was only 17 when he fell instantly in love.
On April 5, 1942, Osborn married graduating high school student and farmer’s girl, Daisy Washburn Osborn (born September 23, 1924 in Merced, California). He was 18, and she was only 17. Shortly thereafter, they set out on a life of ministry and missionary travel, including a trip to India when Osborn was still only 21. In time, they carried the Gospel of Christ to tens of millions of people all over the world, declaring it with faith and confidence.
However, that early mission in India, preaching at Lucknow, was not fruitful. Their ministry lasted less than a year in India, and they returned home because of critical family sickness. In 1947, the Osborns had their only daughter, LaDonna Osborn (b. March 13 of that year; she was raised accompanying her parents on the platforms of global mass miracle evangelistic crusades.
The Osborns first gained public notice shortly after returning from India, as evangelists on the Big Tent Revival circuit in the United States and Canada. There, they preached to audiences often numbering over 10,000, in open-air meetings and under large tents in settings such as fairgrounds and stadiums. Other young contemporary evangelists, including Oral Roberts, Billy Graham, Jack Coe, R.W. Schambach and A.A. Allen, were also on the circuit. The Osborns emphasised the love and compassion of God, rather than the “fire and brimstone” commonly used by evangelists of the era, and they practiced supernatural healing in their meetings.
By the early 1950s, their emphasis began to shift more and more toward international missions. They held large crusades in Latin America, Asia, and Africa and crowds grew rapidly, at times exceeding 100,000. After Osborn’s crusades in Thailand in 1956 and Uganda in 1957, Pastor Fred Wantaate of Makerere Full Gospel Church said that “after that crusade in Mombasa, the fountain of the river of Pentecostalism spread in the heart of East Africa”.
Around that same time, he met another future televangelist, Marilyn Hickey, eight years Osborn’s junior, with her new husband, Wallace. The young couple traveled around in her husband’s car, conducting tent revival meetings in various towns. Together, Osborn and Hickey prayed for the sick and she became a guest speaker at his conferences. He was lifelong friends with her family until his death just four months after Hickey lost her husband, Wallace.
Over the course of the next five decades, Osborn and his team traveled to more than 70 countries and reached millions of people. They created prolific quantities of evangelistic and training materials, some of which were translated into more than 80 languages.
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