Argentine-born evangelist Luis Palau recently completed one of the most trying crusades of his 20-year career. After four days of meetings in southern Peru, a division of the Maoist terrorist group Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) threatened to kill the evangelist if he did not leave the South American country within 24 hours.

Palau had to decide whether to go to the capital, Lima, where another crusade was scheduled, or return to the United States. The 50-year-old preacher decided to remain in Peru. During his first day in Lima, Shining Path blasted seven high-tension towers, plunging the city into darkness for an evening. “[The synchronized attack] hammered home to us the fact that we weren’t dealing with amateurs,” said William Conard, Palau’s director of international ministries.

A skilled communicator, Palau looked relaxed during his Lima engagements. Only his team members knew about the death threat, and the crusade ended without tragedy. Said Palau afterward, “I personally came to understand several of the psalms [where David requests God’s protection] better than I ever have before.”

Long beforehand, organizers had requested a police battalion to patrol outside Alianza soccer stadium, where the Lima meetings were held. They also enlisted the aid of some 50 Christian police officers and soldiers who volunteered to help with security inside the stadium.

Any of the thousands of inquirers streaming onto the field during the altar calls could have been a terrorist moving within point-blank range of the evangelist. Supervisors found it difficult to control who entered the field. The throngs included enterprising Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons who went down front to counsel people who wanted to follow Christ.

The crusade faced problems beyond the terrorist threat. Organizers were unable to reserve Lima’s National Stadium. They had to settle for Alianza Stadium in La Victoria, a seedy barrio frequented by drug addicts, winos, and muggers. In addition, the local bus fare jumped 30 percent during the week of the meetings.

Despite the obstacles, larger-than-expected crowds attended—some 250,000 during the eight-day crusade. About 40,000 people filled the stadium on the closing day, and the 3,000 inquirers represented the most ever at a Palau meeting. Roughly half of the week’s 15,000 new converts live in La Victoria, a relatively unchurched area.

The influx of new Christians was significant as well in the southern town of Arequipa where Palau had preached earlier. According to Anselmo Rios, an Assemblies of God leader there, the Protestant community numbered 1,000 before the crusade. Yet some 6,000 people—six times the number in the city’s evangelical churches—decided to follow Christ at the close of Palau’s meetings.

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