Growing up in Argentina, Luis Palau did not feel much like an evangelist, as he was merely doing "what everyone else in [his] church was doing": winning people to Christ. But when he was 18 years old, he heard a young preacher named Billy Graham on the radio and prayed that he, too, would become an evangelist one day.
More than 40 years and 300-plus crusades later, Palau now hopes to fulfill another vision: the further development of his ministry in the U.S. with his current "Say Yes Chicago" crusade. He has already made his presence well known in Central and South America, as well as in Europe and elsewhere, through crusades that use his bilingual ability and sensitivity to a multitude of cultures.As he prepared for this April campaign, Palau spoke with CHRISTIANITY TODAY about evangelism, crusades, and American Christianity.
WHY DO YOU FEEL EVANGELISM IS THE CHURCH'S NUMBER-ONE PRIORITY?
If there is no evangelism, there is no church to deal with the other priorities. Discipleship is obviously a strong, ongoing church priority; but there's no one to disciple if you haven't evangelized in the first place. When Jesus went to heaven, the uppermost command on his mind was "Go into all the world and make disciples." Yes, the church exists for the glory of God. But in practice, evangelism should never leave a Christian's mind. The church is always one generation away from extinction. Why are you able to worship? Because God rescued you through the work of someone who evangelized you.
HAVE OTHER CHRISTIANS OPPOSED YOU ON THIS ISSUE?
I find that the people who most argue against evangelism as a priority haven't won a soul to Christ in decades. They are afraid of the nonbeliever. In almost every case, they stay within their closed circles. ...1
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