PORTLAND — The news announced in an email Jan. 18 got right to the point, hard as it was.
“We need to share some important news with you. It’s not good,” started the message from Luis Palau.
Palau, the 83-year-old, Portland-based international evangelist who has presented the gospel to tens of millions worldwide, has stage 4 lung cancer.
“As you can imagine, this isn’t news we were expecting or hoping for,” wrote Palau. “Yet our trust in the Lord remains rock solid.”
Palau said the diagnosis was determined over Christmas break after he returned in November from outreach in the United Kingdom but battled a persistent illness that felt like a bad cold or possibly pneumonia. Last month a second oncologist’s opinion confirmed the original diagnosis. Tests and scans revealed that the cancer has spread to lymph nodes in various places as well as Palau’s lower spine. A regimen of chemotherapy will be tried for two months to see if that can slow it down. At that point immunotherapy could be an additional option.
The finding of cancer was particularly shocking, Palau, said, because he has seldom been sick in his life. “As of right now, I feel fine. I’m full of energy — praise God — and committed as ever to sharing the Good News. Yet Pat and I know the next several months will be trying. We ask for your prayers.”
In both the email and in a 12-minute video Palau taped with sons Kevin and Andrew, he expressed a mix of emotions — hope for more years of life and fruitful ministry, but at the same time the soberness of a deadly serious health challenge.
“I’ll keep doing what I’m doing for as long as I’m able,” Palau wrote. “And frankly, I’m praying the Lord gives me many more years of fruitful ministry. But of course, with a diagnosis like stage 4 cancer, it’s not business as usual. We must consider the very real implications and possible outcomes. This will definitely impact my travel and preaching schedule as I begin treatment. After that, only the Lord knows.”
Palau said one reason he is at peace is that the ministry he founded many decades ago “is in great hands. No matter what the future holds, whether God chooses to heal me completely or take me home to glory — I know the work of the Palau Association will continue on for generations to come.”
He said his team began preparing “for this inevitable reality” more than a decade ago as three of his sons — Kevin, Andrew and Keith — began to take on greater responsibilities. Kevin is the association’s president, Andrew travels worldwide as an evangelist and Keith works with the development staff.
Palau plans to preach when possible and continue writing and outreach through radio and social media while going through treatment and working toward healing. He is scheduled to minister in Bogota, Colombia in August and Grand Rapids, Mich., in September. Regular updates on Palau’s health will be posted at www.palau.org.
(Local churches and ministries plan a special week of prayer this month for Palau. For details, see the following editorial)
CALLING FOR PRAYER FOR A DEAR BROTHER
At any given time, in the thousands of churches in our part of the Northwest, prayers are requested for a multitude of friends, neighbors and loved ones. Often these concern health challenges, and each time prayer is sought for any individual, the request is heartfelt and important.
So, we are a bit hesitant here to single out any one person here for special prayer, but in the case of Luis Palau, we think many of our readers will understand. Originally from Argentina, the 83-year-old global evangelist has for most of his life made Portland his home, and he is a beloved figure not only locally, but nationally and internationally. Having presented the gospel of Christ to literally tens of millions of people worldwide, he has had a massive impact on the world spiritually. And certainly in our local region. Thus, many were deeply shocked to learn that this energetic octogenarian is seriously ill with stage 4 lung cancer.
Bethany Olsen, a member of Sonrise Church in Hillsboro, heard the news when Palau’s son, Andrew, spoke briefly last month at Mission ConneXion Northwest. As one who has greatly appreciated Luis’ life and ministry over the years, she felt led to see if the Christian community could have specific prayer and fasting for him.
“I would love to see us unified as one Church praying for God to be glorified through our unity, through this illness and to ask God for healing and vision for the reminder of his life,” said Olsen.
She contacted various local Christian leaders, and it was determined that Feb. 18-25 should be set aside as a time of prayer and fasting for Palau’s healing. Churches and ministries throughout the Portland-Vancouver area and beyond are invited to participate. Palau’s family has been made aware of this and endorses Olsen’s idea.
So do we. Let’s all make our friend and brother Luis a real focus of our prayers.