Luis Palau (1934—2021) was a well-known international evangelist who preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to millions of people worldwide.
Luis Palau was born in Argentina, near the capital city of Buenos Aries. He was born again at age 12, and as a teen began serving the Lord in a variety of ways, including street preaching and hosting a radio program. He moved to the United States in 1960 where he trained in a ministry in California for a while and received an education at Multnomah School of the Bible in Oregon.
In 1962 Luis Palau interned with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and served as a Spanish language translator for Rev. Graham in the 1960s and ’70s. In 1978, Graham helped Palau to launch his own evangelistic organization, the Luis Palau Association. Palau and his wife, Patricia, spent the next four decades dedicated to missions work.
Much of Luis Palau’s ministry was focused on Latin America, where he was born and raised. He hosted two daily radio programs, published several books, wrote a Bible commentary, and provided video training courses, all in Spanish. He preached in Colombia, Peru, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Mexico and crossed the ocean to preach in Spain. Government officials in Latin America often called on Luis Palau for prayer, and he met personally with dozens of national leaders to share the gospel with them one-on-one. All of this contributed to his being called “The Billy Graham of Latin America.”
But the ministry of Luis Palau extended well beyond the Spanish-speaking world. He and his ministry team held more than 500 evangelistic campaigns and “festivals” in more than 80 countries. He preached to large crowds in New York City, Buenos Aires, London, Madrid, Singapore, Hong Kong, Cairo, and Mexico City. He preached in the Soviet Union, and, after the Berlin Wall came down, he held open-air stadium campaigns in former Soviet countries. He held massive evangelistic efforts in Asia and the Middle East, as well. His preaching led to over 1 million decisions for Jesus Christ, according to his official website.
Luis Palau was an innovator in ministry. In 1999 he steered away from the traditional “crusade” model of evangelism that he had learned under Billy Graham and took a fresh approach. Rather than holding crusades, Palau began hosting outdoor Christian “festivals.” These events, designed to attract unbelievers, had corporate sponsors and featured Christian rock bands, skate parks, and various family activities.
Palau’s fifty books include God Is Relevant, Where Is God When Bad Things Happen?, and Say Yes! His radio programs such as Luis Palau Responde and Reaching Your World aired on thousands of radio outlets in 48 countries. He also made extensive use of television and social media to share the gospel. After receiving a diagnosis of terminal cancer in 2018, Palau wrote another book, My Life in Seven Words.
Luis Palau died at his home in Portland, Oregon, at the age of 86. Three of his sons are currently leading the Luis Palau Association, and the ministry continues.
Luis Palau loved the Lord and served Him wholeheartedly for over 55 years. His message was centered on the gospel: “Jesus, through death, destroyed the power of death over us. Only His victory can deliver us into true life. Is that not Good News?” he said.
Here are some other things Luis Palau said:
“Jesus was able to conquer the grave and He is able to redeem your story.”
“If you are to be impressed by anything about me, then be impressed with this: I’m not all that special. Is that not a greater testimony? God uses the weak.”
“The best periods of my life were those times I really did simply delight in the Lord. He is the loving Father, the kind Master, the One with greater patience than we could ever imagine. Joy, full blessing, laughter—those are the hallmarks of our relationship with God.”