|Subject: Luis Palau, Christian evangelist
He was 86
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Date Posted: Thursday, March 11, 04:19:08pm
“Bring Your Doubts.”
So advised a promotional poster for one of Luis Palau’s sermons, and the seekers did.
For decades the Beaverton-based evangelist, known as “the hot gospeler,” responded to people’s doubts with wisdom and clarity and wit, and in the process won over many thousands of followers.
“The evangelist is the bridge between the world and the church, between the lost person and bringing them into the position of salvation,” Palau told The Oregonian in 1985.
Palau, one of the world’s foremost Christian advocates, died Thursday of cancer. He was 86.
“It is with a mixture of sadness and joy that we share with you that Dad passed away early this morning,” his family said in a statement. “He died suddenly and very peacefully, just as he had hoped. This is hard news, but Luis is experiencing the beauty of the Lord face to face.”
Palau, a native of Argentina, revealed in January 2018 that he had been diagnosed with stage-4 lung cancer. He had been suffering from what he thought was a chest cold “that wouldn’t go away,” said his son Kevin, who now leads the Luis Palau Association, a ministry that is based in the Portland area but has a global reach.
At the time of the diagnosis, Luis Palau admitted that it “was a shock. I haven’t been in a hospital one night, except when I broke a bone back in 1984 after Mission to London.” But he declared he was “ready” to go to heaven.
“My wish and my desire,” he once said, “is that people get right with God, settle the big question, and die happy, knowing they will be with Jesus.”
Palau was born in Buenos Aires on Nov. 27, 1934, the son of a real-estate developer who expected Luis to either go into business with him or become a lawyer.
When Luis was 10, however, his father suddenly died, leaving the family in dire financial condition. A year later, a summer-camp counselor introduced Luis to evangelical Christianity one night as they sat on a log in the woods, thunder echoing in the sky around them. Luis wrote to himself later that night: “Feb. 12, 1947. I received Jesus Christ.”
Palau had received Jesus, but it took him a few years to realize how God wanted him to spend his life. He was working at a bank in Cordoba when he heard a Billy Graham sermon on the radio and felt called to evangelism.
“In a way I often think maybe the Lord had to take my dad home,” he once said, “so I would leave the country and go international to preach to millions.”
In 1960, Palau came to Portland to study at Multnomah Bible College, where he met fellow student Patricia Scofield.
Palau was drawn to Pat’s smarts and beauty. Plus, he said, “She was committed to the work of missions, and that is what I was really looking for: somebody who had the same view that life is preaching the good news.”
Luis and Pat soon married and started both their missionary work and a family. (They would raise four sons.)
At the height of his influence, in the 1970s and ’80s, Luis Palau reached millions of people through his radio sermons and worldwide tours. Many Christians viewed him as the natural heir to Graham, with whom Palau closely worked early in his career.
“In contrast to Graham, the forceful and decorous elder statesman of mass evangelism,” The Oregonian’s religion writer Sura Rubenstein wrote in 1985, “Palau is casual, almost folksy, delivering his message with all the genuine concern, sincerity, good humor and familiar passion of one good friend cajoling another to do the right thing.”
This winning style -- and his inclusive view of Christianity -- helped make Palau a popular figure in his adopted home of Portland, a city known for being one of the most unchurched in the country.
In 1999, attendance for his two-day festival of faith in the Rose City topped 90,000, more than twice the turnout he’d expected.
“There are thousands of people in Portland who are hollow ... smiling on the outside but crying on the inside,” Palau said during the event. “Many of you have been to astrologers and healers, but I’m going to introduce you to Jesus Christ, the only spirit guide worthy of knowing.”
Sam Adams, Portland’s first openly gay mayor, spoke at one of the local faith festivals. “Regardless of our differences, we have come together,” Adams said.
Throughout his life, Palau’s missionary work remained his guiding passion. After receiving his cancer diagnosis, he immediately returned to his preaching.
“In many ways, I feel the Lord has much more in store for me,” he wrote on his ministry’s website shortly after the diagnosis. “Yet whatever tomorrow holds -- I’m completely at peace. Both Patricia and I are. As we look back, we praise the Lord. Fifty-seven years of marriage. How many places we’ve been. How many people we’ve reached with the Gospel.”
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