Luis Palau Talks About Life After Cancer Diagnosis and His Optimism for the Future

BEAVERTON, OR – He rose from poverty to influence presidents and popes. Known as the Billy Graham of Latin America, Luis Palau has preached the gospel to more than a billion people. Recently, John Jessup of CBN News spoke with him just before his eighty-fifth birthday… A milestone neither Palau nor his doctors expected him to make.

“When you were first given the diagnosis back in December 2017, they didn’t diagnose a long period of time for you to be around?”

Luis Palau, Evangelist:

“Absolutely. They were very clear and blunt. Four of my sons were with me—the four sons—when the doctor told me. He said, ‘It’s incurable if you do chemotherapy you could last nine, maybe 12 months.’ I said, ‘If I don’t do anything?’ He said, ‘Four months.’”

Not long after, palau went public…

Kevin Palau, President, Palau Evangelistic Association:

“To our shock, just a few days ago, we got the word that it’s stage four lung cancer.”

He and his sons… asking for prayer. More than two years later, palau has defied those odds. At his ministry headquarters just outside portland, oregon, he told c-b-n news about using the time he has left to spend with his family. He’s also taken on big projects, including a film about his life… And a spiritual memoir. It serves as an homage to those who poured into his spiritual wellbeing… Like his parents…. His wife, pat… And his mentor and friend, billy graham.

“Why did you decide to write that book?”

Luis Palau:

“As we chatted, I don’t know who came up with the idea but I was immediately taken up with the concept: Glorify Jesus Christ; emphasize the cross; and honor those that God used in my life. Because I’ve always honored them publicly, verbally. But to do it in writing so that other believers will say, ‘You know God could use me in the life of a young fellow or young girl who feels called to evangelize,’ I could be a blessing to this person.”

From London to the former soviet union to Palau’s birthplace in Buenos Aires… And even his adopted hometown of Portland, the evangelist has relied on mass rallies to reach the world. He preached at what was billed his last one this past June in Madrid.

Kevin Palau:

“It’s a huge blessing to Spain that he was able to go. But I know for him personally and for us to see him doing what he enjoys the most was incredibly life-giving

“Throughout your entire life you’ve been looking forward. it’s about the next campaign. The next message. The next event. {cutaway ends} But now in this season you’ve had to reflect and look back. What have you learned?”

Luis Palau:

“Well, first I’m thankful that I did what I did. From the teenage years the Lord laid on my heart early on.”

Luis credits missionaries who traveled to Argentina to show him the love of Christ. That lit his heart on fire to serve the lord and “Reach the lost.” After 50 years of proclaiming the gospel in 75 countries to an estimated one billion people, he has few regrets.

Luis Palau:

“I’m not begging to be healed because I don’t know God’s purposes. And I trust him entirely. The only sad thing is leaving my wife and my kids and the team and a few of my best friends. That’s the only thing, but really, I’m ready to go. I have the peace of the Lord. // But looking back now, {trim} is the thought, Why does the Lord allow it? What purpose is it? There’s a purpose. The Lord’s way is perfect. So I felt one—which I’ve said and most people look at me and say are you sure— is get out of the way of the next generation. I’m mean I’m 84 going on 85. You got to make room for the next generation to freely minister — freely do. And although you think, ‘Ok, we’ve transitioned.’ Kevin is the president; Andrew is the better-known evangelist, but are you still in the way?And I’ve come to realize I am somewhat in the way. I’ve got to get out of the way more. Without relinquishing love and caring for my sons and their ministry but just get out of the way –just let people minister. Go forward.”

“I imagine a lot of your thoughts turn to legacy these days?”

Luis Palau:

“I never had sat down to think. I used to say when people would ask me years ago, I’d say I hope my boys will put on my burial tomb: My father wasn’t perfect, but he sure loved Jesus Christ. Something like that. But if we can encourage the next generation, that’s the only thing I think of — if we leave something behind.”

Palau’s son Andrew says that’s his legacy for the world… And his own family.

Andrew Palau, Evangelist:

“He hadn’t even been officially diagnosed yet but had a feeling something wasn’t right and took advantage of that moment to gather all of the grandkids and really just expressed his love for them and described how he felt something wasn’t right /// and in light of that, ‘I want you all to know about Jesus Christ’ – as if I haven’t told you before– and gave the Gospel to the grandkids in such a direct and clear way. It was very moving and as a father, and as a family, we were so grateful that the children will always remember their grandfather in this way.”

Despite the sickness, Luis says the future is bright.

“Why do you think the best days are ahead?”

Luis Palau:

“I love what I see in the new generation of leadership in America, Latin America, Europe even. But the reason why I’m excited about team and these fellows is first that they’re Godly. My boys are men, middle aged men, and they walk with God. They’re in the word. They live a holy life. They’re not playing around with the world. They live for Christ. They live for the lost. So, that’s what gives me hope and excitement about the team and the association is because I see that they are following the basic biblical principles and therefore the Holy Spirit will give witness that this is exactly what the Lord had in mind. Generation after generation proclaiming the good news.”


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