Months before he died, evangelist Luis Palau spoke openly and eagerly about his anticipation of Heaven and what he looked forward to seeing there, says his long-time friend and fellow Christian speaker, Lee Strobel.
Strobel told Christian Headlines that he traveled to Palau's home several months before the famous evangelist passed away in 2021 at the age of 86 following a battle with cancer.
At the time, Strobel was making a film, The Case for Heaven, about the afterlife.
"I wanted to interview a Christian who was about to die and about to enter into heaven," Strobel told Christian Headlines. "… And so he was dying of stage-four lung cancer and agreed to let me come to his house. He and his wife Pat were there. And his two sons, Andrew and Kevin.
"And I interviewed him at length," Strobel added. "And it was very inspiring to me."
Part of the interview was included in The Case for Heaven, which went to home video on July 15 on Pure Flix. The film was released in theaters in April by Fathom Events and became Fathom's top-grossing faith film for 2022 and its 15th top-grossing faith film of all time.
"I asked him if he was afraid of death. He said, you know, not really. He said, you know, I've read what the Bible says about it. And it's made me long for meeting Jesus and being in His presence. I want to see my father again – his father died when Luis was 10," Strobel said.
"I said, well, when you're in Heaven, if you could send back a text message to all the Christians in the world, what would it say? … He kind of laughed [and] he said, I think it would say, 'Go for it.' I said, what do you mean? He said: Go for it. Tell someone the good news about Jesus. The Holy Spirit's your ally."
Strobel also asked Palau what he would text nonbelievers from Heaven, if possible.
"He kind of smiled. He said, 'Don't be stupid.'… He was such a winsome guy. He didn't mean that with a mean bone in his body. He was just saying: Do the right thing. This free gift of forgiveness and eternal life is available to you. Jesus died for your sins, He paid the penalty you deserve, so that you can be assured of Heaven – just receive this free gift."
A few months before he died, Luis Palau joked that he wished he could text me from heaven to tell me about it. Now that he’s there, I imagine the text would say simply: “Hallelujah! Holy holy holy Lord God Almighty!” pic.twitter.com/JyoGYMKN3d— Lee Strobel (@LeeStrobel) March 12, 2021
Strobel sees The Case for Heaven as an outreach tool for churches and Christians. It features him investigating near-death experiences and interviewing experts on the topic.
People are searching for answers about eternity, Strobel said.
"My wife and I were at lunch not long ago here in Houston," Strobel said. "And the waitress started to cry. And we said, 'What's wrong?' And she said, 'I'm so sorry, I almost didn't come into work today. We just lost a family member to Covid.' And I thought, here's a young woman about 18 years old, probably never thought about death before. She's got her whole life ahead of her. But now death has come knocking on her family door, and now she's got questions and anxieties and doubts.
"And so I think it's a perfect time to seize this opportunity of spiritual receptivity and point people toward their hope in heaven."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Jeff Schaer/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.