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Luis Palau (1934–2021), evangelist called “the Billy Graham of Latin America”

by Linnea Crowther

Luis Palau was a popular Christian evangelist who worked with Billy Graham (1918–2018) and became one of his successors as he preached to the Spanish-speaking audience.

Engaging Latin American evangelicals

A native of Argentina, Palau met Graham in the early 1960s and began interning for him, translating his speeches for Spanish-speaking audiences. Graham became a mentor to Palau as he forged his own path as a preacher for Overseas Crusades, then later founded his own ministry. Palau became known for the festivals he organized and headlined, often located in progressive cities and featuring entertainment including Christian rock and hip-hop. One such festival, held in New York City in 2015, brought tens of thousands on supporters to Central Park to hear Palau’s preaching and enjoy bands and other performers. He hosted radio shows in Spanish and English as he worked to bring his message to young, diverse audiences. Though he became known as “the Billy Graham of Latin America” for his large influence among Spanish-speaking evangelicals, Palau differed from his mentor in that he chose not to be involved in politics.

Notable quote

“I would have gladly had a business or been a lawyer — either one — but the real commitment of my life was to win people to Jesus Christ. There’s nothing greater in the whole world.” —from an interview on Palau’s website

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Tributes to Luis Palau

Full obituary: The New York Times

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