Steve Wilbur 4/10/37-6/14/19
Steve Wilbur walked a lonely road from an early age. His father died when he was only 4 years of age and his mother remarried when he was nine. Although Ray Condon was a good man, he was very shy and talked very little with Steve, so there was not the father/son interaction between them. He also did not adopt Steve as a son.
When he was 12, his mother contracted tuberculosis and spent nearly 3 years in a sanatorium. So Steve and his stepfather were left to their own devices, looking after themselves in that household while his mother was away in the sanatorium. On rare occasions she was allowed home on a weekend but spent that time in bed. Because of the contagious disease, Steve could not get near her and was not allowed in her bedroom, so he spoke to her from the doorway.
It was during this lonely time that Steve began to read the Bible & seek the Lord all on his own. In the rural atmosphere of Pa. like John the Baptist, he grew up in the wilderness and was always nourished by time spent in the woods and fields.
School occupied some of the lonely time. Steve was very intelligent and at the top of his class in high school. He also played the clarinet in the high school band. But his heart was hungry for more of the Lord during these formative years.
When he was about 15, from the doorway of his mother’s bedroom, on a rare visit home from the sanatorium. he spoke of the possibility of being healed by God. He said “if God can make a world, He can heal a body.” So he and his mother made their way to Pittsburgh to one of Kathryn Kuhlman’s meetings. At the risk of hemorrhaging to death, his mother decided to lift her hands to the Lord as others were doing around her. As she lifted her hands in worship she felt as though oil was being poured on her head. She was miraculously healed from tuberculosis.
Undoubtedly, this miracle strengthened his faith. He began to listen to full gospel preachers of that era on the radio. He often spent eight to nine hours reading the Bible and praying on the mountain behind their home and would come down the mountain in the evening to eat. He walked 15 miles to attend a little country church. (He was not allowed to drive the family car).
Through these radio preachers he heard about being filled with God’s Spirit. So intense was his desire for God, he made his way to attend services where the Spirit of the Lord was moving. With only enough money for a bus ticket, but no food, he set out to attend meetings that changed his life. Steve was there from August 1957 to January 1958. He was 20 years old.
The Lord met Steve late one night at the end of a meeting. About eleven o’clock a ball of fire appeared at the top of the tent and went rolling through the air and hit Steve broadside and knocked him into the tent wall. There he lay in the sawdust trying to get up and could not. He said to himself, “This must be the Holy Ghost.” And there he wrestled with the Lord. Another man from California who attended that meeting told Steve later that he saw that ball of fire come down from the ceiling of the tent, hit Steve and knock him to the ground.
When he finally managed to get up off the sawdust he was transformed, having been translated to a dimension of beauty and eternal spring. He returned to Pennslvania a changed man filled with God’s Spirit. Steve said “You don’t know what I was like before that event, because I have been another man ever since.”
When he returned home, he walked the 15 miles to that little country church, expecting to join in worship with the believers there as he had in the past. But to his surprise, they announced that Steve would minister that day. What a shock! He had never addressed an audience before. Although he was at the top of every class in school, he was never asked to speak at the graduation because he was too shy and could not do it. But this day he rose to the occasion, and preached his first sermon on the spot. All heaven came down and God moved in a mighty way. That was the beginning of his ministry.
Word travelled about this young man who ministered with an unusual anointing, and for the next nine years his walk with God was filled with fasting, praying, reading God’s Word and preaching as doors opened to him. One of these invitations found him in McKeesport, PA. where a young woman, Roberta Boyd happened to be in the congregation. At the age of 28 he married Roberta Boyd in June of 1965. From December of 1965 to August of 1975, the Wilburs lived in Detroit, Michigan where he was employed by General Motors, an experience he expressed a “working in the land of Mordor” Their family life with three children, Stephen, Tanya Rose and Eric was happy and Steve ministered faithfully in his own house church.
In 1975 Wade Taylor, along with Joe Nieves, invited Steve to join the faculty at Pinecrest. After he and Roberta visited Pinecrest to investigate, they were convinced that this was the next step for them. While on the faculty at Pinecrest,Steve would travel to various churches, conventions and camp meetings preaching in the power of the Spirit the unsearchable riches of Christ. He was in high demand as a conference speaker and was a major reason why many attended Pinecrest in the 1980’s.
In August of 1992, the Wilbur family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where Steve pastored at Hebron Christian Fellowship in Decatur, Georgia for nine years. Since that time he has continued to serve the Body of Christ as a prophetic pastor and preacher. The home of Steve and Roberta became an oasis for thirty souls; when Steve could not come to them, thirsty souls have come to him and found renewal and refreshing. He accepted us as we were, just as he had received grace to accept himself. We all knew he was eccentric and we loved him for it. He could launch into a discourse in almost any field of knowledge, or discuss his appetite for mushrooms which would surpass a hobbit’s or his love of languages and proper pronunciation, or the sense that he inhabited a world of superlatives, or that he knew the botanical names of all the exotic trees and shrub he had planted around his house. Did the Lord use Steve’s eccentricity as a cloak? What we saw was only the tip of the iceberg. But what we did not see was the nine tenths of integrity, honesty, goodness and prayer. Roberta’s testimony revealed the countless hours he spent in prayer, the unseen good deeds, the generous way he was with people his ability to treat the high and the low with the same dignity and respect.
Rick Joiner remarked that Steve was the last great orator of the charismatic movement. But the best way to measure Steve’s impact on people is how widely and deeply he is loved because of who he was, but primarily how he proclaimed the glory of the Lord he adored and worshipped and challenged God’s people to arise to the call of the Father to a higher dimension.