Note: For a Luis Palau’s official biography and remembrances outside of One Challenge, visit www.LuisPalau.org.
One Challenge reflects on and celebrates the life of Luis Palau, 1934-2021. Luis’ life and service to the Lord impacted so many. Luis began ministry with OC over 60 years ago, serving as OC president for 2 years (1976-1978) and then moving on to create the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association. Luis’ commitment to reaching the lost, a love for the Word, a vision to impact whole nations, and a devotion to the body of Christ, remains a lasting legacy.
Current One Challenge President Dean Carlson says: “Luis lived to bring hope in Jesus to a broken world. May his legacy continue in our lives, in OC, and among believers worldwide. His words echo today: ‘We need to dream great dreams, plan great plans, and pray great prayers.’”
Former OC president Greg Gripentrog writes: “When Dick Hillis needed to step down as OC President because of health concerns, Luis was Dick’s choice to serve as his successor. I’m sure there were many reasons for this. Among them, however, was Luis’ life and ministry so clearly reflected the following elements that were such an integral part of Dick and OC’s DNA.
- A passion to reach the lost—Luis’ burden for the lost and his commitment to reach them with the gospel marked his life and ministry.
- A deep love for the Word of God—Luis love for the Word was nurtured by his studies at Multnomah, which were made by possible by the efforts of Dick Hillis and Ray Stedman (who was on the OC Board at that time).
- A vision to impact whole nations—I remember hearing Luis share on various occasions the impact of his prayer times with Keith Bentson (who was the OC field director in Argentina) had on him as they would pray together while looking together at a map … first for their city, then for their province, then for the nation of Argentina, then for all of South America, and finally for the world.
- A deep commitment to the Body of Christ—I remember Luis speaking at Urbana (I believe it was in 1976) and making the statement that, ‘every part of the body is precious to the head.’
- A bold and courageous faith—as I followed Luis’ ministry over the years, I was always challenged by his faith that no challenge was too great for God and his willingness to carry out his ministry in a variety of creative ways.”
Memories from OC
“Luis’ commitment to evangelism impacted our team in Colombia that resulted in several city-wide evangelism efforts during Holy Week. Thousands of people heard the gospel during that week. His legacy to the mission and to the OC Global Alliance is a heart for evangelism.” – Steve Aldrich
“Since we were working and living in Asia while Luis and his family were in Latin America, the majority of our fellowship was in the summer at the Mt. Hermon Conference Center. We always enjoyed Luis’ rich Bible teaching in the morning, and his messages at night. Luis obviously had the spiritual gift of an evangelist – pure and simple. He also had another gift that made him unique among most evangelists. Luis could teach the Bible on a par with any Bible teacher. He could not only preach a powerful evangelistic message that would move scores of people to accept Christ, he was also equally an excellent Bible expositor.” – Keith Brown
“I remember one particular time when Luis was conducting an evangelistic campaign in Rosario, Argentina. Both Jim Kemp and I, representing the Brazil team, went to participate in the meetings. It was a strong spiritual experience for us as we saw the Spirit of God work in such wonderful ways to reach that city for Christ.” – Bill Keyes
“In January 2003, I made a trip, together with Chuck Holsinger, to the West Coast to meet with the four former OC presidents who were still alive at that time (Dick, Luis, Clyde Cook, and Larry Keyes). As things worked out, during our time in Portland, I was only able to talk with Luis by phone. I remember that, as a new president, Luis’ warm words of affirmation were a tremendous source of strength and encouragement to me. Luis’ warmth and support continued to be expressed in various ways over the next 12 years.” – Greg Gripentrog
“I don’t remember how I ended up getting invited to accompany Luis to Shanghai in the early 90s. However, I served as his context and cultural interpreter, helping him decipher government guidelines and constraints for greatest possible ministry impact. I also helped him tweak some of his humor and evangelistic strategy to better suit Chinese culture. Luis was a fun guy to work with. A lasting impact on my future teaching strategy, he personally challenged me to ‘open their mouths with laughter, and then insert the truth.’” – Doug L.
Luis Palau’s History with OC
Luis first connected with OC in 1958 as a young man in Argentina, where he met Dick Hillis (OC founder) and Ray Stedman. In those early years, Luis joined with the OC effort in Argentina, known as Sepal, and worked alongside Keith Bentson, who taught Luis about prayer for whole nations. He helped translate Sepal’s magazine, La Voz (The Voice), and joined Ed Murphy in a series of evangelistic meetings. A Spirit-empowered evangelist, even at a young age, Luis held evangelistic tent meetings and recruited a team.
In the early 60s, at the recommendation of Ray Steadman, he attended Multnomah School of the Bible where he met his soon-to-be wife, Pat. While there he also began friendships with fellow OCers, Diane Morris and Don and Nan Boesel.
Officially joining OC in 1962, Luis and Pat served in Colombia starting in 1964 alongside Ed Murphy. Luis did all sorts of evangelistic ministry, from in-person speaking events to radio and television.
Although Dick Hillis initially thought of Luis as a Bible teacher, Dick eventually saw his evangelistic heart and gift. In 1966, OC encouraged Luis to begin large-scale evangelistic ministries and appointed him as field director for Mexico. Dick Hillis told Luis, “I hope you become the greatest evangelist in the world.”
Facilitated by OC, Luis held several evangelistic events throughout Latin America leading many to believe in Jesus alone as their Savior.
As Dick Hillis stepped down as president of OC, he wanted Luis to take over the role. Luis Palau served as president from 1976 to 1978, when he resigned to create the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association. OC fully supported Luis’ response to the Lord’s call into global evangelistic ministry through facilitating the organizational transition of a number of OC mission workers who formed the initial core of Luis’ evangelistic team.
Through his full-time evangelistic work with the Palau Association, Luis went on to minister in 80 nations and present Christ to over one billion people through media and live events.
A Legacy Lives On
One Challenge is deeply grateful for Luis and Pat, not just for the years they spent in OC, but for lives lived in service to the Lord. Their love for Jesus and passion for the Great Commission have left an imprint on OC’s DNA that continues to influence the organization today.
“We celebrate the phenomenal ways in which the Lord has used Luis, Pat, and the Palau Association to make His name known among the nations and usher multitudes into the kingdom,” Dean says. “The entire OC community prays for the Palau family as they grieve Luis’ homegoing and for God’s ongoing blessing on the ministry.”
For more content about Luis and his life lived for the glory of the Lord, visit LuisPalau.org.
Missions Mobilization One Challenge is an international mission sending agency empowering local church ministry in more than 100 countries around the world. We seek to empower the whole body of Christ to bring a transforming love and hope to all people. When invited by local leaders, OC facilitates local bodies of believers to identify, train, and send global workers toward realizing a “from everywhere to everywhere” vision. For more information, please email OC Mobilization at email@example.com. Or go to our Mobilization blog, Prepare for Impact, at https://prepareforimpact.life/.