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All in for Jesus

Judy Adamson Palau – The Movie Available through


rgentinian-born evangelist Luis Palau was huge. Billy

Graham-like huge. And that’s not an exaggeration. Many times he preached the message of salvation in Jesus to hundreds of thousands of people at once. He preached in eastern Europe only a few years after the fall of the Iron Curtain. He preached in China, in Vietnam, across the US, in Spanish-speaking nations, in Australia, on the radio and on TV. God blessed him, through his Spirit, with the capacity to speak to the hearts of others and change their lives for eternity. So I found myself wondering, how did I not know about this man? Keen to find out more about the “Billy Graham of Latin America” I watched Palau – The Movie, which was released in 2019 but has only now become available in Australia (perhaps because Palau died earlier this year). The film dramatises his early life from the age of 10, when his father died, to the first major watershed event of his ministry – a little over 20 years later in Colombia – when he led a procession of 20,000 people through the dangerous streets of Bogota and preached the gospel in the heart of the city. I’d like to say everything in between is marvellous, but while God’s extraordinary blessing of people through Palau shines through (and no, he isn’t portrayed as a saint, by any means), the film has a range of shortcomings. First, there are scenes where you simply don’t know what’s going on – either because a connecting scene has been edited out 28

or something hasn’t been clearly explained. This doesn’t happen often, but it leaves you floundering a bit when it does. Also, some crucial turning points in Palau’s life have been dealt with in a single, usually static scene. One sermon in the street in Buenos Aires, and an American preacher who happens to be listening invites Palau to the US for an all-expenses paid Bible education. Then, when Luis goes home, his mother has handily invited a visiting American church planter for dinner to help him join the dots. Some years later, when the now-married Palau and his wife Pat briefly join Billy Graham’s team in California, a short lunch with Graham becomes a moment for the dump button of godly advice to be pressed over the young couple. I know that years of events need to be compressed for a film like this, but history tells us that Graham was a mentor for Palau, so I’m pretty sure there was more to it than five minutes of inspiration in a lunch tent! There are moments of extraordinary power in this film, so these clunky elements – and the one-dimensional nature of many characters – are a real shame, because the transformative power of the gospel, the recognition of suffering in a sinful world and the value of trusting wholly in God are always central. I found Palau – The Movie interesting because of the things it taught me about a man of God and how he sought to live his life for Jesus through times of pain, inspiration and challenge. But I think I would have preferred a documentary rather than a biopic. SC SouthernCross

November 2021