The Wellspring of an International Evangelist
By Luis Palau
May 16, 2010
Since 1966 God has given me the privilege of traveling the world and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with hundreds of thousands of people. I have been thrilled to see people of all nationalities come into relationship with Jesus Christ and experience new life in Him.
But all this almost didn’t happen. As a young man in Argentina, I was zealous for the Lord and His work. My friends and I spent nights in fasting and prayer and preached on street corners every chance we got. Yet few people responded to our message and we became tired and discouraged. Some of my friends dropped out of our all night prayer meetings. Others stopped going to church altogether. I hung in there–barely, but we all shared a sense of despair. “We’ve read the Bible, prayed all night and witnessed for Christ, but we still can’t say ‘no’ to certain temptations. Either the Gospel doesn’t work, or I’m such a sinner that God can’t help me.”
With that kind of thinking, how could I have gone on to serve the Lord with joy and excitement as I have done the past few decades? It is only because, God, in His grace, heard my cry and showed me the very truths that Dr. Charles Solomon presents in his book, Handbook to Happiness.
As Dr. Solomon so clearly presents, I first had to come to the very end of myself. I had gone to the United States to study at Multnomah Biblical Seminary. The school was very rigorous and demanding, but that wasn’t the source of my troubles. I was still struggling to find more fruit in my personal spiritual life. I was frustrated in not being able to live out the lifestyle I saw in the godly men and women around me.
If I were to describe myself in those days, I would have to say that I was envious, jealous, preoccupied, self-centered, and ambitious to a wrong degree. I was smug about other speakers. That left me feeling mean and ugly and petty. No amount of wrestling with myself would rid me of those sins. And yet I tried. I felt despicable; l hated the idea of being a hypocrite. I wanted so desperately to be the person people thought I was.
In the midst of all this turmoil, one of my professors, Dr. George Kehoe, began each class with … Galatians 2:20. Each morning he would quote: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me ” I found myself annoyed because I just couldn’t get what it was that Dr. Kehoe meant–and what he had.
At my lowest point, just before Christmas break, Major Ian Thomas, founder of Torchbearers, spoke in our chapel service. He spoke powerfully about Moses and how it took that great man of God forty years in the wilderness to learn that he was nothing. Then one day, Moses was confronted with the burning bush. That bush was really nothing to speak of, but Moses had to take off his shoes. It was holy ground because GOD was in the bush. What God was telling Moses, I finally understood for myself. “I don’t need a pretty bush or an educated bush or an eloquent bush. Any old bush will do as long as I am in the bush.”
It suddenly hit me that I was that kind of bush. On my own, I could do nothing for God. Everything in my ministry–all my efforts were useless unless God was in me. Major Thomas went on to tell of Christian workers who failed at first because they thought they had something to offer God–that was me, all right. But God didn’t use a person until he came to the end of himself. I knew that was right where I was.
When Major Thomas closed with Galatians 2:20, it all came together for me. My biggest spiritual struggle was finally over! I would let God be God and let Luis Palau depend on Him.
You can’t imagine the release I felt as a result of that little chapel talk. I ran back to my room and fell to my knees in tears. In my native Spanish I cried out to God, “Lord, now I understand! I have been crucified with Christ–and yet I live! It’s not what I’m going to do for You, but rather what You’re going to do through me!”
That day marked the intellectual turning point in my spiritual life. The practical working out of that discovery would unfold, but at last the realization had come. It was exciting beyond words.
I soon discovered, however, that my struggles weren’t unique. One way or another, many Christians live the way I lived all those years–whether they have tremendous emotional or psychological difficulties or not. They’ve given their hearts to Jesus, they love Him, but they can’t seem to make the Christian life work the way they thought it was supposed to work. That’s why, even though I’ve dedicated my life to preaching the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ, I also am equally dedicated to presenting the life-changing truths of the “exchanged life.” I know the incredible difference “living by faith in the Son of God” makes.
This is an English Translation of Luis Palau’s foreword to the Spanish edition of Handbook to Happiness (Hacia la Felicidad: Una Guia Biblica a la Vida en Cristo) by Charles R. Solomon. This book can be ordered in English or Spanish by calling 1-888-66GRACE or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Palau concluded his foreword: “That is why I am so happy that I am not alone in bringing this message to those who need it. I trust that Dr. Solomon’s book will find its way to many communities, many churches, many individuals who will discover and embrace the power of being crucified with Jesus Christ–yet living! There is no other way to live!”
You can learn more of how God is using Luis internationally at http://www.palau.org/