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Evangelist Luis Palau has died

Luis Palau in 2005. AP Photo/Kevin Wolf

Evangelist Luis Palau has died

Three years after receiving a lung cancer diagnosis, evangelist Luis Palau died Thursday at his home in Portland, Ore., his family said. He was 86.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Palau professed faith in Christ at age 12. After moving to the United States and attending seminary, he interned with Billy Graham, served as a translator for him, and modeled his ministry after Graham’s ministry. For five decades, Palau conducted large evangelistic meetings in English and Spanish. “I have not preached the gospel if I have not included the cross—the death of Christ and the resurrection,” he said.

What was he best known for? Two decades ago, Palau began using less traditional methods to reach a younger audience. Some of his outdoor festivals featured corporate sponsorships, Christian hip-hop and country music, skateboarders, and motocross riders. “Jesus Christ really cares for every subgroup in the area, not just the churchy people,” Palau said. The festivals, which drew hundreds of thousands to each two-day event, also unified the local churches that put them together. Palau was famous for cross-cultural evangelism. In 2010, he and the Rev. James Meeks and the 52-voice Salem Baptist Church Choir from Chicago led 8,000 people in worship at a church in Beijing. Palau’s wife, Patricia, and four children survive him.

Dig deeper: Read Marvin Olasky’s remembrance of a weekend he spent with the evangelist in 1997.

Susan Olasky

Susan is a book reviewer, story coach, feature writer, and editor for WORLD. She has authored eight historical novels for children and teaches twice a year at World Journalism Institute. Susan resides with her husband, Marvin, in Austin, Texas.



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Oh dear, brilliant, Luis Palau, I remember you telling us at Forest Home that in death we would "absent from the body- present with the LORD,"-- that it would be instantaneous. I know that you are enjoying your JESUS now. Thank you for casting a bright bright light to all the world before you went to be with Him. You blessed us so much by your Radio messages, your literature, and by your willingness to eat breakfast with us at Forest Home Christian Family Camp back in 2016. We will miss you and look forward to meeting up with you one day.