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Luis Palau Papers.

Identifier: CN-722

Brief Description

Papers of Luis Palau, international Christian evangelist, including crusade-related materials, correspondence, the Luis Palau Association strategic planning documents and reports, and personal diaries. While the paper documents in the collection are subdivided into several subseries, almost all of them relate to Palau's crusades or other events as a Latin American evangelist, most after he established his own evangelistic ministry and association separate from Overseas Crusades in 1978; far fewer are the personal papers of Rev. Palau. 1947-2017. Language: English, Spanish.


  • 1947-2017

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research with no restrictions on access to the materials.

Conditions Governing Use

Archives & Special Collections does not hold the copyright to the audio and video reports and messages in the collection. It is the researcher’s responsibility to contact the copyright holder for permission to use (publish, post on the internet, etc.) the materials. Ask the Archives staff about any information they might have about the copyright holder.

Biographical Information

Full Name: Luis Palau, Jr.

Birth: 1934 November 27 in Ingeniero Maschwitz, Argentina, a small town outside Buenos Aires.

Death: March 11, 2021, in Portland, OR.


Parents: Luis, Sr., and Matilde Palau.

Siblings: Sisters Matilde, Martha, Catalina, Margarita, and Ruth, and his brother, Jorge.

Marital Status: Married to Patricia Scofield, August 5, 1961.

Children: Kevin and Keith (twins, born 1963), Andrew (1966), and Stephen (1969).

Conversion: 1946 at the age of twelve.


1960?: Multnomah School of the Bible.


Other Signficant Information:

Early in his ministry, Palau served as an intern with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), occasionally helping as Billy Graham’s Spanish translator. Palau began his ministry as part of Overseas Crusades in the early 1960s, including eventually being the president of the organization (1976-1978) before establishing his own evangelistic association in 1978; Billy Graham and his team played a significant role in opening doors of opportunity for Palau as he launched out with his own ministry efforts, and eventually helped him start his own evangelistic organization. Throughout their lives Palau and Graham stayed close friends. [from Palau's obituary by LPA]

Published Works: Authored many books, including the following ...

As an author, Palau published dozens of books and booklets throughout his lifetime. Some of his most well-known books, including God is Relevant, ¿Con quién me casaré? (Whom Shall I Marry?), Where is God When Bad Things Happen?, and Say Yes!, have been translated into dozens of languages and distributed into the hundreds of thousands. His Bible commentary in Spanish is recognized as one of the best in the field. His Starting Point Study Bible (published with Zondervan) was a 2003 Gold Medallion finalist for best Bible of the year. His video courses in Spanish have helped train tens of thousands of pastors and church leaders. And more than 10 million copies of his most popular booklet, What is a Real Christian?, have been distributed in over 60 nations.

Extended Palau family: Outstanding among the correspondence are letters exchanged between Palau and family members (and references to), including his wife, Pat; sons Kevin, Keith, Andrew, and Stephen; mother, Matilde (also known as Mamo, Mummy, Mamy, Grandma, etc.); brother, Jorge Balfour; sister Matilde (also known as Matil) and her husband Pablo; sister Martha (also known as Marta, Martita), her husband Juan Carlos Ortiz, and their children David, Robert John, Vera, and Georgina; sister Catalina (also known as Ketty), her husband Roberto, and their children Esteban Roberto Palmadessa, Georgino); sister Margaret (also known as Margarita or Margara) and her husband Miquel Angel Pujol; and sister Ruth, her husband Edgardo E. Silvoso (or Ed), and their chilren Karina, Junior Pujol, and Marilyn.


20 document cases : Originally received in eight record cartons in Accession 2018-022, one-and-a-half boxes consisted of Palau's books and two of his association's publications (Cruzada and Briefing), which were added to Wheaton College's Library collection.

10.0 Linear Feet

104 Moving image materials

15 Sound Recordings

144 Photographs

Language of Materials


Spanish; Castilian

Arrangement and Description

The paper documents in the Palau Papers are subdivided by the following subseries:

  • Crusades, 1964-2016
  • Correspondence, 1962-2016
  • Luis Palau Evangelistic Assocation
  • Messages, 1954-2011
  • Personal Calendars and Other Materials, 1947-1985

    The Papers also include digital audio and video files of messages by Palau, reports on his crusades and annual activities, his memorial service and documentary, and testimonies.
  • Crusades, 1964-2016

    Arrangement: Chronological

    Date Range: 1964-2016

    Volume: 7.7 linear feet

    Boxes: 1-16

    Notes: Files for Palau's crusades (both city and church-based), primarily in South and Central America, but also in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Files contain assorted crusade materials, songbooks, press materials, reports, press releases, media advertisements, promotional flyers, meeting minutes, event agendas, posters, prayer and other form letters, schedules, lists of local leaders and contacts, correspondence, emails, faxes, evangelistic tracts, badges, financial reports, a few photographs, newspaper clippings and other press coverage, a dissertation, and crusade evaluations. Folders titled "Press releases" usually are more expansive in the types of documents they contain, not limited specifically to only documents recognized as press releases. Some files contain documents in plastic sheets that appear to have been kept in notebooks; although these are spread across this Crusades subseries, there is no indication which notebooks these came from, or whether they were compiled together. Some folders contain extensive documentation (see especially Folders 12-8 through 15-9 for the 2015 New York City crusade, with notes near the end of this subseries description), while others contain very little. Many of the crusades that appear in the chronology are documented.

    Documentation for many/most of the later crusades, beginning with Folder 10-4 for the 2005 Washington, DC, crusade, include extensive "media overview" binders made available to media outlets. This seems to have become a standard feature for many larger crusades as similar binders (see Folders 10-5 and 11-1 and others) appear in subsequent crusade folders, such as for the 2006 crusade in Orlando, Florida, and the 2008 event in Portland, Oregon, among others.

    While most crusade-related files limit their scope to a particular city or year, some files (e.g., Folder 3-19) consolidate materials, such as press releases, over a span of years; some of these materials may overlap with the contents in the city or year-specific files. Some files are limited to Spanish or English documents. See the attached chronology that reflects many of the events documented in this collection. Like the overall subseries of crusade files, the vast majority of events are in Central and South America or along the Mexico/United States border; however, beginning in 1972 Palau began holding evangelistic meetings in other parts of the United States and world.

    Also see the (Palau organization's online partial chronology of events, 2008-2023).

    Exceptional Items:

    Folder 1-1 includes transcriptions of three lectures on "Missionary - National Relations," a series of lectures by Palau at San José, Costa Rica, in March 1964.

    Folder 2-13 contains a Spanish 181-page post-crusade study, analysis, and assessment of the 1972 Costa Rica Crusade.

    Folder 2-17 includes a one-page handwritten "Palau Team Budget Hightlights - 1975, D.V."

    Folder 3-19 documents the crossover year (1978) for Palau from being part of Overseas Crusades, president at the very end, to launching the Luis Palau Evangelistic Team.

    Folder 4-2 includes the Final Report for the 1981 Scotland Crusade. Folder 4-3 consists of Palau's extensive entries to document the 1981 Scotland meetings; also see Folders 6-1,2 for many letters reporting on the impact of the 1989 Tell Wales Crusade on individual's lives; without explanation, (Folder 6-1) includes a form letter from Mrs. James A. Baker, III, about the upcoming 1988 U.S. presidential campaign, Senator Lawton Chiles, about the 1988 Prayer Breakfast, and another from a prisoner commenting on the impact of Palau's book, My Response.

    The 1983-1984 Mission to London (Folders 4-13 to 18, and 5-1,2,3) is among the most extensively documented of Palau's evangelistic events in the collection, including the particulars and post-event analysis. Folders 4-10,11 consist of two reports analyzing the efforts and impact of the 1983-1984 Mission to London. Folder 4-13 adds Peter Brierley's report "Mission to London: Phase I: Who responded?" Folder 4-14 adds Brierley's companion report, "Mission to Lond: Phase 2: Who went forward?" Folder 4-16 provides reports and evaluation of the mission. Folder 4-17 consists of the 53-page accumulation of Palau's journal entries between January 13 and June 14, 1984. Folder 5-2 includes two edited testimonies from participants in the mission. Among the Mission to London files was one (Folder 5-3) consisting of many photographs taken by Mick Rock for the Palau Team; these photographs were relocated to a photo file described separately in this collection guide.

    Folder 5-10 contains a five-report series on the 1988 crusade in the Faroe Islands.

    Folder 6-3 contains what may be the earliest document written by Kevin Palau on a 1989 visit to the Soviet Union.

    Folder 6-15 includes a large-format schematic laying out the timeline of key steps for the Dublin Crusade in 1992.

    Folder 7-6 includes a letter to Palau from Dick Hillis on the occasion of the 1993 Taiwan crusade with advice about how to attune the gospel to Taiwanese culture; Hillis was founder and first general director of Overseas Crusades, with some missionary experience in Taiwan.

    Folder 7-15 contains relatively little on the 1996 Chicago Say Yes event, but Collection 650, the Say Yes, Chicago Records, consists of twenty-two boxes (10.0 linear feet) of files.

    Folders 8-1 through 8-7 were originally compiled in a single press release notebook spanning various 1997 events. Among the sections were those related to Palau's book, Is God Relevant?, the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the crusades in Hong Kong, Bristol (England), and El Paso.

    Folder 10-6 includes a proposal, "Houston Media Plan," for the 2006 Houston crusade.

    Folder 10-7 does not appear tied directly to a 2006 crusade in China, but may be documenting an ongoing relationship between the Palau organization and Chinese representatives (in this case, a letter to Palau is from the president of the China Christian Council and chairperson of the National Three Self People's Movement) about a Bible exhibition that traveled to several locations in the U.S.; this may have also been in anticipation of future events, such as the one that was held in Hangzhou in 2007. A similar visit to China took place in 2009, when representatives of LPEA met with Chinese and expatriates in Hangzhou.

    The event most extensively documented in the subseries is the 2015 New York CityFest (see folders 12-8 through 15-9), with planning documents starting in 2011, including projected timelines for projects and events. Most of the documents for this event were received unfoldered but appeared to be in roughly chronological order and were therefore foldered accordingly. Among the files are exchanges between LPA representatives and New York church and ministry leaders, a large proportion of the exchanges reflected in printed emails. Much of the documentation records many of the details for laying the groundwork for the events and efforts culminating in the Times Square and Central Park events in July 2015; also documented are various aspects of the program, including women's and men's involvement, children and youth, counseling and follow-up, prayer, arts and music, affinity groups, service (CityServe, initiated by Luis Palau Assocation, is described as "a long-term, citywide movement that identifies, develops, and nurtures church-connected, neighborhood-focused collaborations throughout the boroughs of NYC in the areas of justice, mercy, and education"), advertizing and media, pastors and congregations, fundraising (see Folder 13-7, and outreach to New York's diverse population. Throughout, the documents reflect a great deal about the New York City context. Folder 12-9 includes the testimony of an elderly attendee at the crusade. Included in Folder 12-1 are booklets for the 2012 Movement Day (gathering of leaders and Gospel movement representatives for a one-day focus on cities), and the NYC Movement Project, a "partnership to accelerate urban gospel movements." Among those who are frequently represented in the files are Luis, Kevin, and Andrew Palau, Tim Keller, A.R. Barnard, Eric Metaxas, Jane Stradley, Fred Conklin, Ruben Proietti, David Jones, Gail Stockamp, Colin James, and John Ogle. Spread throughout the New York crusade files are photographs printed on copy paper (these have not been separated out to be filed in photo files). The final folders follow the crusade conclusion, including reports, testimonies, and evaluations. Folder 15-8 includes "Good News for the City: A Vision to Impact Cities and Change Lives | 2015-2020," a forward-looking effort to continue LPA's focus on urban evangelism.

    The final two files in the subseries consist of evaluations of Palau's crusades, including Scott Bauer's "Crusade Evangelism" on the 1994 San Fernando Valley crusade (Folder 16-1), also emphasizing intersection with Jack Hayford's Church on the Way, of which Bauer was on the pastoral staff. Folder 16-2 contains a variety of reports or papers evaluating the impact of Palau's crusades, including 1983-1984 London, 1987 Fiji, 1986 Auckland, 1984 Colorado Springs, 1987 Hong Kong, 1989 Spokane, 1988 Cuttack, India, 1989 Madras, 1990 Quad Cities, 1991 Philippines, 1997 Bristol, 1998 Palau, and 1998 Uruguay.

    Correspondence, 1962-2016

    Arrangement: By Subseries

  • Family (.3 linear feet)
  • Key figures (.2 linear feet)
  • Overseas Crusades (.4 linear feet)
  • 50-year ministry commemoration (.2 linear feet)

    Date Range: 1962-2016

    Volume: 1.1 linear feet

    Boxes: 16-18

    Notes: Family correspondence: Outstanding among the correspondence subseries are three folders of exchanges between or references to Palau and family members (1962-1978), including his wife, Pat; sons Kevin, Keith, Andrew, and Stephen; mother, Matilde (also referred to as Mamo, Mummy, Mamy, Grandma, etc.); brother, Jorge Balfour; sister Matilde (also known as Matil) and her husband Pablo; sister Martha (also known as Marta, Martita), her husband Juan Carlos Ortiz, and their children David, Robert John, Vera, and Georgina; sister Catalina (also known as Ketty), her husband Roberto, and their children Esteban Roberto Palmadessa, Georgino); sister Margaret (also known as Margarita or Margara) and her husband Miquel Angel Pujol; and sister Ruth, her husband Edgardo E. Silvoso (or Ed), and their chilren Karina, Junior Pujol, and Marilyn. The folders also include some letters with friends or ministry associates. The letters not only record the interaction of the wider Palau family, but also mark the ministry activity of Palau and his siblings in both Buenos Aires, Argentina, the U.S, and wherever Luis Palau's ministry travels brought him. Letters are fairly evenly divided between those in Spanish and in English. Folder 16-6 consists of Pat Palau's prayer letters (2000-2016).

    Key figures correspondence: Among those individuals represented in this subseries are Cliff Barrows who served on the Overseas Crusade board, President George Bush, Leighton Ford, Billy and Ruth Graham (Folders 17-3,4,5), and Franklin Graham (Folder 17-5). Barrows' correspondence (Folder 16-7) is both with Palau directly but also with Overseas Crusades representatives in his capacity as a board member, most with updates about Palau's evangelistic ministry or Barrows' appreciations and encouragement. Exchanges with Leighton Ford (Folder 17-2) include mutual encouragement and Ford's connection-building efforts in his role as chairman of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. The file associated with President George Bush (Folder 17-1) documents the occasion when Palau met with the president as a part of a group commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month; also includes Bush's thanks for being given one of Palau's books. Also included is the text of Bush's 9/11-related "Address to the Joint Session of Congress" on September 20, 2001, for which Palau and other religious leaders were present.

    Although there is some correspondence to or from Billy Graham sprinkled throughout, such as Palau's November 15, 1988, letter to Graham (Folder 5-11), the most substantial correspondence (late-1960s-2009) is Palau's exchanges in this subseries (Folder 17-3) with fellow evangelist, mentor, and advisor Billy Graham. Before launching his own association, Palau worked as an intern at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, occasionally as Graham's Spanish translator, benefitted from Graham and his team opening doors for Palau's evangelistic outreaches, and was assisted in starting Luis Palau Evangelistic Association. Palau and Graham exchanged updates on their activities, opportunities and dreams, their organizations, families, and health, and asking each other's advice and counsel. In addition to Graham himself in this folder, correspondents include Ruth Graham, Walter Smyth, T.W. Wilson, Stephanie Wills, and other BGEA representatives. The 1976-1978 letters, when Palau was Overseas Crusades president, suggest the level of mutual respect and cooperation between the organizations. In his 3/17/76 letter (Folder 17-3), Graham suggests the possibility of Palau becoming a BGEA evangelist-at-large, "identifying yourself with us -- but only if you feel it would help you in your ministry! I believe that you are a God-anounted evangelist, and if identifying with us and using certain areas of our organization would help you, we would like to be of that service to you." Charles Holsinger's 4/5/77 memo (Folder 17-3) to Palau reviews a meeting with George Wilson about the possibilities and limits of financial and other support from the BGEA for Palau's ministry (while still associated with Overseas Crusades). The files (Folders 17-3,4) also include Palau's appeals to Graham and the BGEA for financial assistance. See also Ruth Graham's 4/25/77 letter to Pat Palau in fellowship and encouragement to a fellow spouse whose evangelist husband travels so extensively and is away from home and family. Graham's 11/17/80 letter (Folder 17-4) to Wade Coggins of the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association endorses the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association for membership in the EFMA, saying, "There is no one for whom I have a higher regard that Luis Palau. The Lord has called him and gifted him to be a world evangelist, and I thank God for him and his Evangelistic Team." Also included is the full text of Billy Graham's address (Folder 17-4), "Do It Again," at the 7/30/81 session of the American Festival of Evangelism.

    Overseas Crusades correspondence: Also included in the subseries are files (Folders 17-7 through 18-1) primarily of correspondence related to Overseas Crusades, with which Palau was associated (1962-1978), eventually as its president (1976-1978), before establishing his own organization in 1978. While the Luis Palau Evangelistic Team existed with Overseas Crusades, his independent ministry was first known as the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association (LPEA) and later as the Luis Palau Association (LPA). Folder 17-8 consists almost entirely of exchanges between Palau and Overseas Crusades general director Dick Hillis, revealing the outlines of their working relationship, Palau's candor and leadership of the mission's Mexico team, his desire to establish an evangelistic team with periodic crusades, and his accumulating sense of independence. See especially his March 31, 1970, letter to Hillis expressing his deep and visceral frustrations with Hillis, other senior leaders, administrative duties, and mission policies and procedures. Among the other OC figures referenced are Ed Murphy, John Hunter, Norm Cummings, Joe Lathrop, John McWilliam, Marcelino Ortiz, along with Juan Isais of Latin Ameica Mission in Mexico. Palau's correspondence with Norm Cummings, the executive director, mission home director and acting field director, makes up the contents of Folder 17-7, mostly from Palau to Cummings, and which seem more concern with logistics and details. The other files related to Palau's role and activities in the mission include his monthly and annual activity reports (and also those of Stan Jeter, Jaime Mirón, and Bob Waymire. Some Hillis and Cummings correspondence also appear in these more general files. Included is an incomplete transcript (pages 1-2 of the 11-page document are missing) of comments (Folder 17-9), including Palau's, at an event when he and his team were released from the mission to establish the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association in 1978. The most substantial file (Folder 18-1) related to Overseas Crusades documents Palau's transition to his own evangelistic ministry. Also included is Palau's first report (dated 12/22/78) on the new ministry's activities in its first calendar year.

    50-year ministry commemoration: This 2010 compilation of letters in Folder 18-2 (arranged alphabetically) from Christian leaders, pastors, evangelists, pastors, educators, political and civic leaders, and Palau Association colleagues is a tribute to Palau and his team, including letters from Lon Allison (Billy Graham Center), Cliff Barrows, John Bolten, Bill Clinton (former president), James Dobson (Focus on the Family), Steve Douglass (Campus Crusade), Joni Earecksom Tada, Tony Evans (Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship), Chris Fabry, Leighton Ford, Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, colleague Colin James, Jerry B. Jenkins, Stan Jeter, Duane Litfin (Wheaton College), Josh McDowell, Senator Jeff Merkley, Bill Newman, J. Paul Nyquist (Moody Bible Institute), sister Matilde Palau, Pat Roberston (CBN), Moishe Rosen (Jews for Jesus), Robert H. Schuller (Crystal Cathedral), Richard E. Stearns (World Vision), Chuck Swindoll, Harvey Thomas, Neil O. Thompson (OMF International), Rick Warren (Saddleback Church), Jim Williams, David Wraight (Youth for Christ International), Frank Wright (NRB), Ravi K. Zacharias, and many others.
  • Luis Palau Association, 1977-2010

    Arrangement: Alphabetical

    Date Range: 1977-2010

    Volume: 0.4 linear feet

    Boxes: 18-19

    Notes: The few files in this subseries are not the records of the LPA but rather Palau's files on his Association; understandably, the documentation on the operation, his leadership, the goals, and activities of the organization would appropriately be found in its corporate archives, which were retained by the Luis Palau Association. Nonetheless, the files in Palau's Papers provide a significant glimpse into the Association's operation. Folder 19-2 includes the extensive "Long Range Plan 1980-1987 Under God" and the 1990 "Say 'Yes' America" report. Also included are the Association's published 2010 edition of "Changed Lives: True Stories of Transformation by the Power of the Gospel, Vol. 1," Folder 19-2) consisting of many personal accounts and accompanying photographs; a series of annual ministry reports (Folder 18-5) two generously-illustrated booklets (Folder 18-4) branded for the Luis Palau Legacy Campaign that report on achievements and goals for the periods 2007-2009 and 2011-2014; and the Association's publication, Proclaim! (Folders 18-6 and 19-1), published once or twice a year with updates on activities, upcoming plans, and columns by Palau.

    Messages, 1954-2011

    Arrangement: Chronological

    Date Range: 1954-2011

    Volume: 0.3 linear feet

    Boxes: 19-20

    Notes: The subseries consists primarily of Palau's notebooks of notes for presentations, along with a few transcripts of his messages. The handwritten notes in the notebooks, many in Spanish, span a variety of topics, many of them evangelistic, but also including books of the Bible, the Christian life, calling, missions, other theological themes, and his own testimony. Also among the notes are those related to ministry and organization life. Transcriptions of several of Palau's messages also are found for his messages at Amsterdam '86 (International Conference on Itinerant Evangelism) in Folder 20-1, and at West Point US Military Academy in 2001 in Folder 20-2. Folder 20-3 contains his messages 2008 Portland Festival, three messages to the 2010 President's Council in Phoenix, his remarks on the occasion of this 50th anniversary of ministry celebration in 2010, and his message at the Arizona CityFest in March 2011.

    Calendars and Other Items, 1947-1985

    Arrangement: Chronological

    Date Range: 1947-1985

    Volume: 0.2 linear feet

    Boxes: 20


    Exceptional Items: Includes several address books, planning and day calendars (1962-1985, not comprehensive for the time period), and Palaus' prayer cards.

    Folder 20-10 adds a single planning notebook (1969-1976 while he led the Overseas Crusades Mexico Team), which consists of Palau's handwritten notes on a variety of themes, projects, or goals. Importantly, these span the period up to when he became the mission's president. Among the notes are long-range goals, "Goals for 1976, Under God," fund raising projects, "Working On," "Requests from Exec. V.P. - 1974," goals/projects related to each of the Evangelistic Team (Galo Vasquez, Gail Denham, Jim Williams, Stan Jeter), "Palau Priority Responsibilities," and much more. An important note, "Team Offices & Personnel," lists the Evangelistic Team's offices by geographic location, and the correspondence team members working in each. Also included is a partial list of Palau's crusades in Central America, the Caribbean area, Mexico, South America, Bolivia, and Spain.


    The materials in this collection were given to the Archives and Special Collections by Luis Palau, his family, and the Luis Palau Association in May 2018 and June 2021. (Select books authored by Palau were transferred to Wheaton College Buswell Library.)

    Accessions: 18-22, 21-22

  • March 22, 2023
  • Paul Ericksen, processing archivist
  • Eliza Girard, student worker
  • Magnolia Smoak, student worker
  • Title
    Luis Palau Papers (Collection 722)
    Paul Ericksen, processing archivist
    Description rules
    Describing Archives: A Content Standard
    Language of description
    Script of description
    Roman Script

    Repository Details

    Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

    501 College Avenue
    Wheaton IL 60187 US