LUIS PALAU: The Latin American Billy Graham

Luis Palau graphic
(Charisma Staff)

Full of enthusiasm at 80, the fiery, Argentina-born evangelist is as familiar in his native Latin America and other places as he is in the U.S., having preached to more than 30 million people in 75 nations.

Once tabbed as the successor to Billy Graham, in 1999 Palau showed a willingness to adapt to changing times when the Luis Palau Association moved its evangelistic rallies from stadiums to public parks.

To appeal to a younger audience, these festivals featured popular bands and extreme sports.

They also paved the way for the "city serve" outreaches that followed. The most recent concluded in Central Park July 11, after nearly six weeks of community improvement projects performed by hundreds of volunteers around New York.

"To see a city paying attention to the Lord Jesus Christ is very good news," says Palau, who one day will give way to sons Kevin (president) and Andrew, an evangelist. "Part of the plan is (promoting) unity in the body of Christ. That's one goal I've had ever since I was a teenager."

Palau came to the U.S. to attend Multnomah Bible College. The year after he graduated he met Billy Graham at a crusade in California. Not only did he become a translator for Graham's Spanish-speaking listeners, Palau later launched his association with the help of a $100,000 donation from Graham.

Now married for 54 years to Pat, Palau plans to keep on going as long as the Lord maintains his health. He credits his longevity to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

"We seek to walk in the Spirit daily," the evangelical preacher says. "I think the Spirit makes an effort to whisper in your heart and mind and the Lord opens the door."—Ken Walker

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