If Palau has one directive for pastors this Easter, it’s to keep things simple and to the point. Explain the Good News of Christ in a way that even children can understand, he emphasized.
The Good News of Christ Never Gets Old
For Palau, the Gospel never gets old or mundane. In fact, he says he considers it a compliment when people say he always preaches “the same thing every time” he speaks. The evangelist, who has a far-reaching radio ministry in addition to the crusade-like events his organization organizes all over the world, says whatever people ask him about, whether it’s “sex, marriage, divorce, whatever, I always get to the cross.” Quoting Charles Spurgeon, Palau says “to preach Christ without his cross is to betray him with a kiss.”
You might wonder why a man who has preached the Good News literally thousands of times to thousands of people still gets emotional when he talks about its significance. Palau explains, it’s “the only way to be rightly related to God and know him personally.”
Even if eternal life were the only thing conferred by the Gospel, that would be enough, but Palau explains that even on this side of heaven putting one’s faith in Christ has extraordinary benefits:
The Christian lifestyle is such an amazing, wonderful lifestyle. It isn’t only glory to God for forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven forever in the presence of God–that’s glorious–but on planet earth the Christian lifestyle is such a glorious lifestyle and the only negative thing I can think about it is persecution.
Persecution is “promised” and “a real part of the Christian life,” Palau admits. Now that he is traveling less due to his health, he spends more time praying. “I pray nowadays more than ever for persecuted Christians.” With tears in his voice, Palau recalls the 20 Christian men who were beheaded by terrorists on a beach in Libya. He is moved by the fact that they were young men with families who were just trying to follow Jesus.
Even after all these years, Palau says “the thing that most impresses me about the Gospel is the power to change people’s lives.” The evangelist, who has done a lot of ministry work in Latin America, says he was also impressed by how many poor people came to the Lord. Again Palau spoke through tears as he recalled how poor people would clap for joy whenever he shared 1 Samuel 2:8: “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.” That’s part of the Good News, Palau explains. Jesus heals the brokenhearted, looks for the lost, comes to relieve the guilt by forgiveness, and lifts up the poor.
He also recalls a time, many years ago, when he was just starting his radio ministry in Latin America. A young boy who lived in the Andes mountains in Peru and whose family only had four goats in their possession asked him a stirring question: “Is the problem of poverty going to be solved by tithing?” Palau said the young man’s earnest question drove him to study Scripture more. Even now, after all he’s seen of the suffering caused by poverty, Palau believes Matthew 6:33 holds the answer: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Looking to a Hopeful Future
Palau, who came to Christ at the age of 12 with the help of missionaries, says he has a real burden to “do more for children.” With more than 60 years of ministry experience, Palau says with conviction that he believes many evangelical churches only do “sort of a maintenance job with our kids.” Considering about 50 percent of all kids live with a single parent, Palau says we really should be focusing more on evangelism to children. Plus, “I think most single parents would kiss your feet if you took care of their kids for three hours.”
In his own family, Palau has seen the effect evangelism on children can have. All five of his sisters came to the Lord when they were children, while his little brother was four and distinctly remembers committing his life to Christ. “I think we don’t take the children seriously enough,” he explained. Palau still leans on the Bible memory verses missionaries painstakingly taught him when he was a child.
In addition to the work he hopes will happen with children, Palau is also thinking about life after the pandemic. He hopes, along with Patricia, that those Christians who have eschewed the local church will have their perspectives changed on what church is really about. Maybe after this virus is over, people will understand that we are involved in church not because of what it can do for us, but “we do it to worship the Lord together, to hear the word of the Lord together and to bless other people who need our blessing and counsel,” says Palau, who shared that he and Patricia recently experienced their first “virtual communion” while watching a livestream service from their home church.
For now, though, the Palaus are looking forward to a quiet Easter at their home in Portland, Oregon with one of their sons and his family. Palau expects that he and Patricia will sing some hymns of praise, enjoy a nice meal together, and check in with their extended family via Zoom.
To access Luis Palau’s Easter message (available in English and Spanish) and Andrew Palau’s Good Friday message, go to EasterHope.org.