Evangelist Luis Palau Celebrates 50 Years of Ministry

Argentina-born evangelist Luis Palau celebrated his 50th year of ministry Thursday evening in the presence of a Grammy Award-winning artist and the mayor of Portland.

Palau, who left his native country in 1960 to start his ministry in the United States, marked the milestone with a large celebration at the Oregon Convention Center. The event was attended by Mayor Sam Adams and award-winning artist Steven Curtis Chapman.

"Headed downtown to celebrate over 50 years of ministry!" Palau wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday. "What a blessing and privilege it has been. Looking forward to a great evening celebrating with friends of the team, and enjoying special music from Steven Curtis Chapman."

The celebration Thursday also marked the opening of the 2010 Greater Portland Area Season of Service (SOS). In past years, SOS in Portland has mobilized tens of thousands of volunteers to carry out hundreds of community service projects in the city. The grassroots effort brings together faith-based groups, community organizations, and local government to address critical social needs such as feeding the hungry, cleaning up public areas, mentoring school dropouts, among others activities.

SOS will culminate with an evangelistic festival headlined by Palau.

"Luis' lifetime commitment to lift up Christ before a desperately needy world speaks to the very core of NRB's (National Religious Broadcasters) mission," said Dr. Frank Wright, president/CEO of NRB, in a statement. "His 50 years of faithfulness in proclaiming Christ remains an inspiration to us all."

Palau's evangelistic festivals are known for providing various exciting entertainment and family fun activities. The festivals usually feature top Christian music artists, extreme sports demos and a large play area for children.

Besides festivals, Palau is also often invited to speak at churches or to pastors overseas. The evangelist recently returned from China where he preached to about 8,000 people at a megachurch in Hangzhou. He also met with about 500 pastors in Vietnam last month and encouraged them to continue to reach out to their neighbors and government leaders.

The third Season of Service in Portland will officially begin May 1.