As people around the world mourn the passing of Luis Palau, the story of a 7-year-old’s profession of faith illustrates how the evangelist's legacy is thriving in TWR's global ministry.
Palau, who died Thursday, March 11, after a long battle against lung cancer, was often called the Latin American Billy Graham. His preaching campaigns drew massive crowds in many countries and were especially successful across South America, where he was born.
Now retired as TWR’s director of Hispanic ministry, Lemuel Larrosa fondly remembers his close involvement with the historic 1978 Luis Palau crusade in Uruguay. Every night thousands streamed to the stadium, where Larrosa sat in the front row to broadcast the event to a network of stations. It was the first time a chain transmission like this had occurred in his home country.
“For me it was very exciting to give the signal to Dr. Luis Palau every night that we were already on the air for the whole country,” Larrosa said. “He looked at me and nodded when he saw the red light that indicated he was already being heard and began to preach the truths of salvation in Christ with unusual enthusiasm and clarity.”
Hundreds Come to Christ
Responding to Palau’s invitation, hundreds of people made professions of faith, and many more did the same as they listened by radio in their homes. For Larrosa, the most memorable of these decisions happened in a special crusade gathering for children: His 7-year-old son, Esteban, gave his life to Christ.
After the crusade, Lemuel, who was pastor of a church near the stadium, baptized 37 of the new believers, among whom was Esteban. Years later, when Lemuel told Palau about his son’s decision at the early crusade, the evangelist inscribed a Bible for the young Larrosa.
Still cherishing that Bible today, Esteban grew up to follow in his father’s pioneering footsteps, preaching and broadcasting the gospel and leading RTM* Uruguay, TWR’s national partner in the South American country. In the past year, he was named TWR’s international director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
From its early days, RTM Uruguay has broadcast Palau’s programming, which Lemuel said remains popular in all Hispanic cultures. The Luis Palau Association has been a faithful cooperative media ministry of TWR for 39 years, and its programs continue to be carried on broadcast outlets and the TWR360 web portal. There are three programs, two in Spanish and one in English: Cruzada con Luis Palau, Luis Palau Responde and Reaching Your World. The first and last of these are broadcast over the airwaves in various parts of the world, from Uruguay and Cuba to Africa and Asia.
The Impact Is Personal
“The footsteps of Dr. Palau have left a major mark in our Hispanic countries and in many lives, like that of my son, Esteban,” Lemuel said. “I am looking forward to seeing this great servant of God in the heavenly homeland, where he is now, and I will give him a big hug of gratitude. ‘His works follow him’ is one of the best things you can say about a Christian here on earth, leading people to the feet of Christ.”
Palau’s legacy will live on as his sons seek to continue the momentum of the association and the impact of his preaching thrives through the many books he authored, the radio programs he recorded and the hearts – like Esteban’s – he touched. This personal impact is what most impresses TWR President Lauren Libby about the late evangelist.
“Before Luis Palau died, he called his grandchildren into the hospice and asked each one if they will be in heaven with him,” Libby said. “He was exercising his calling from the Lord right down to the end. Men like Luis Palau and Billy Graham were part of a great generation. TWR worked with Dr. Palau from way back, and he’s one of the favorites on the air in Latin America. Of course, he spoke Spanish and was one of their own.”
Join the Luis Palau Association on Saturday, March 20 at 2:00 pm PT for the livestream of Luis Palau’s private memorial service.
* RTM is the Spanish version of TWR.