Spiritual Health

Luis Palau

The Evangelist’s Manifesto: The Personal Life of an Evangelist

The following has been taken from a message Luis Palau delivered on 1 Corinthians 9 which he called the Evangelist’s Manifesto, a Biblical passage that reveals the heart of an evangelist. 

I was asked to open my heart and share with you as fellow evangelists. We are going to look at 1 Corinthians 9, which I call the Evangelist’s Manifesto. First, we are going to look at the personal life; our walk with God, our family, and the local church.

The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9 talks about, “woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (vs. 16 ESV). In other words, he had a passion. But where did he get that passion? You will need to get into the presence of God. There is no substitute for you and me to be on our knees, in the presence of the Lord, and have a personal close walk with the Lord. And I want to warn you temptations will come, even in old age. This month, I turn 86 years old. Believe me, the old nature doesn’t just drop off with age. We will continue to struggle until we get to heaven. Then, and only then, we shall be like Him because we’ll see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). Until then, temptations come and it isn’t just about sex. There will be other temptations also. They will take the form of pride, wanting recognition looking for honor and “don’t forget me.” There will even be temptations to compete with others, of envy, or not speaking the whole truth.

I remember one evangelist who travelled to a country in Central America. He preached in one local church, but his report said, “we shook the whole country of Costa Rica!” This is called exaggeration. He had a campaign in one local church. Did he really shake the country? Probably not!

Spending time in the presence of God will purify our thought life, our inclinations, and desires. We will see temptation for what it is, and by the power of God’s grace, overcome them.

We are not only to walk closely with God, but we are to bless our spouses. Paul in Ephesians 5 talks directly to men and I want to break it down phrase by phrase.

In verse 25 Paul tells husbands to love their wives, as Christ loved the church. The apostle brings up the subject of love. Sometimes we evangelists say “my wife is a missionary just like I am. Together we are out there to win souls. We love the lost.” But what about loving her? What about being kind to and caring for her? What about being tender with her? When you go on a trip to preach the Gospel did you leave her with enough money to take care of the house? We’re to love her, as Christ loves the church. The church is the bride of Christ. And it is a huge challenge for me to love my wife like Jesus loves us the church. However, it would not be there if it were not possible.

Christ gave Himself up for the church. The most obvious application is that I must sacrifice for my wife. And I’ll tell you, if your wife isn’t happy, you aren’t going to be happy when you are away from home. One day my wife, Pat, and began analyzing how much we had been separated from each other since we got married and started preaching the gospel. We figured it has been something like 17½ years! That’s a long time to be gone from your wife and your children. As a result, we have to be very careful.

Then Paul goes on to say in verse 26 that it was to make her holy (“to sanctify her”). Jesus looks at the Church and says, I want to make her holy, that is godly and beautiful. The passage says that it is my responsibility to do it. Women who are reading this can apply it as it is fitting.

The passage continues to say, “cleansing her with the water of the word.” Cleansing her, making her beautiful, causing her to be joyful. Do what is within your power to make her a beautiful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is clear that this is part of my duty as a husband. I understand that it is a challenge, take it from one who next year will be married for 60 years.

Verse 27 continues, “so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Christ loves her as we love our own body (vs. 28). Just as we feed and care for ourselves, we are to feed and care for our wives. We preach about this all the time but another thing to actually do it.

I am going to mention a statistic regarding pastors, but it applies to evangelists because there are a lot of similarities. A survey said that 82% of pastors’ wives wish their husband was doing something else with his life. Not that they are against the Lord’s work, nor the gospel, not even against the church but they wish their husbands were doing something different than being a pastor. And I’ll wager, if we were betting people, that many evangelists’ wives feel the same way. What might be the reasons? Not enough money; being left alone too much; the children don’t see their dad enough.

And the passage goes on to say, we are members of His body (vs. 30). When one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it (1 Corinthians 12:26). Therefore, it says, leave your father and mother, unite yourself to your wife, become one flesh with her (vs. 31). Paul admits that this is a profound mystery, but “I’m saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (vs. 32 ESV). However, he is also referring to an evangelist and his wife. We have a phrase in Spanish: “a buen entendedor pocas palabras” (to a person who understands, few words are needed or a word to the wise is sufficient).

My dear fellow evangelists, you and I have a duty to be leaders. Not only on the platform, not only in our denomination, not only in evangelizing a city in the name of Jesus Christ, or in proclaiming the good news about Jesus. But we have a duty to be leaders for our wives and children. When we are that type of man, I can guarantee you that when your wife is talking with her friends she will say: “I am so glad I married this man because he is a man who is proclaiming the good news!”

The impact of the wife on the children is tremendous. We found out when we were missionaries living first in Costa Rica, then in Colombia where Andrew was born, and finally in Mexico for four years. We watched and learned. When an evangelist or pastor had a wife who was not happy the children were not happy. If your spouse isn’t contented with the work you’re doing, it will be reflected in the children’s attitudes.

Even though my wife wished we could be together more, I was blessed that she was supportive and the boys love the gospel, love Jesus, love the church, and love the lost. It is very sad to see an evangelist whose children have little respect for him, ignore the gospel, don’t like going to church and could care less about the lost. Three years ago, the son of a Christian leader from South America came to see me. His dad is now with Jesus and he’s become a Buddhist. And he said, “I just couldn’t stand my dad being gone all the time. He never had time for us.” And I thought, “oh, Lord, what if my boys would say that about me?” You and I must be careful. When you reach my age, 86, and you want your sons to love you and love the gospel. It’s a great and wonderful thing for them to say, “hey, my grandpa is an evangelist, and I’m not ashamed of it. And I love him, and he loves me.” You know, it really is a big deal.

Continuing now with the personal life of the evangelist, I want to mention the local church. Sometimes we are very careless with regard to the local church, and as such we give a poor example. It results in a lack of respect to the pastor. The Bible says that we have to honor those to whom honor is due (Romans 13:7). A pastor has a tremendous load, far heavier than yours and mine as traveling evangelists. They are there for many years. They have a congregation. Some of the congregation are very supportive while others are critical. Sometimes the pastors only get notes when the someone is complaining about something. We evangelists need to support the pastors. Most of them do not receive much encouragement. If 82% of the wives of pastors are not happy, you can only imagine how the pastor feels. We should love, support, and bless them.

I remember a missionary in Argentina called Keith Benson. One day in a sarcastic mood he said to me, ”I love the world. It’s just people I can’t stand.” It’s a sarcastic statement but it’s a good one. Evangelists, we love the world, we want them all saved, but some people just bug us. And you know, sometimes people are indeed a pain in the neck. Nevertheless, as evangelists we are leaders and people look up to us. It is because we proclaim the gospel; because we proclaim the cross; we lift up our Lord Jesus Christ. Because people look up to us, our love for pastors of local churches is fundamental. It might go without saying but we also need to be members of a local church. It isn’t enough to just to attend from time to time. I was an elder in our church for over 40 years. Only in the last three years since I was stricken by cancer did I decide it was time to pass it on to the next generation. For sure I wasn’t the greatest elder in the church, but I sure loved it. And it tied me to the local church. And so therefore, you do it too. Love the church.

Watch Luis Palau’s entire address to evangelists here.

Luis Palau and his ministry have shared the Gospel with hundreds of millions of people through evangelistic events and media around the world. He has spoken in person to more than 30 million people in 75 countries, with more than 1 million registered decisions for Jesus Christ. Luis Palau festivals have produced massive audiences in cities from south Florida to South America. His radio broadcasts in both English and Spanish are heard by millions on 5,000 radio outlets in 48 countries. Among other top-tier programs, Luis currently hosts Luis Palau Responde, an international Q&A program in Spanish, and Reaching Your World, a devotional-style program emphasizing biblical wisdom. He has authored close to 50 books, contributed articles on issues of faith to countless publications, and counseled business leaders, political leaders, and heads of state around the world.