June 2, 2021

Luis Palau and My Dad

By Bill MacLeod, Executive Director

This month many celebrate their Dads on Father’s Day. Growing up, my Dad was my hero who shaped much of my thinking and values, and I found that Luis Palau also had many of the same qualities I had admired in my Dad. I met Luis Palau in 1978 and over the next four decades-plus, knew him as both a friend and employer. His passing on March 11 th this year, has caused me to reflect on his impact on my life.

A ”Depression-era” kid, my dad’s formal education did not go beyond the eighth grade in order for him to work and care for the needs of his family. He was self-taught, ever reading and learning his entire life, and he had a tireless work ethic. Luis, while educated, eventually had to devote himself to work and taking care of the needs of his family when his father passed suddenly. He was an untiring worker for the gospel and gave himself to not only preaching in the early days, but to all that went along with having citywide events with long-term impact, and modest resources.

Both saw all work as honorable and respected individuals who worked hard to make a living. One time during the UK Tell Wales campaign I drove Luis to a gathering of sheep farmers where the world’s most renown sheepshearer was to demonstrate his skill at shearing the wool off full-grown sheep in literally seconds. It the midst of that, Luis gave a message from the Bible on sheep and called for those present to follow Christ, the Good Shepherd!

Neither was naïve but had street smarts, a great sense of humor, and “guts” – willing and unafraid to address issues they were passionate about. For example, Luis had taken on Marxist agitators publicly when preaching the gospel throughout Latin America which is touched on in both his autobiography, Palau: A Life on Fire, and its parallel film: Palau: the Movie.

Attention to detail, especially finances, was a hallmark for both men and where my dad could take apart, repair, and put my motorcycle back together piece by piece, Luis could analyze situations, identify a problem, and build something better the next time. Like dad,Luis was a loyal, lifelog friend to those he trusted.

Dad would never miss Billy Graham if he were speaking on television, but I do not think he ever heard Luis in an evangelistic event proclaiming the gospel, which I regret. However, once when dad was visiting from the East Coast, Luis took the three of us out for lunch and engaged dad on things that mattered.

Hebrews 13:7 says: “remember your leaders, who spoke the Word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” I consciously and unconsciously follow in my dad’s footsteps every day on so many levels and also seek to imitate the faith that Luis exhibited that I observed over several decades.

So happy Father’s Day to two men who helped shape my life and who have had a very real impact on the ministry of Mission ConneXion.  I will share more about that in our August newsletter.

Next Time: Luis Palau’s Legacy.