The death of Luis Palau of lung cancer at age 86 on March 11 sent reverberations across the globe. Many mourned alongside the wife and family of the famed evangelist, who took the gospel to more than 1 billion people during his lifetime.
Renowned worship leader Matt Redman had a special connection to Palau, and that connection moved Palau's family to ask him to sing at his memorial service, livestreamed on Saturday, March 20. But Redman did more than sing—he composed a brand-new song for the occasion, "Home at Last."
Redman's connection with Palau stretches all the way back to a London soccer stadium where his mother took him to hear the evangelist at just 10 years old. Redman says Palau was "this Argentinian fireball—the preacher with so much charisma and heart and passion, and it really resonated with me. I'd already been to church, but I'd never heard the gospel presented like this. He told us what of Christ had done at the cross, but he also majored a lot on the Father-heart of God.
"And that really impacted me because I'd lost my father," Redman says, "He actually took his own life when I was 7 years old." That night, Redman gave his life to Christ. He later met Palau, who called himself Redman's spiritual father, and ended up leading worship for his crusades more than once, including as part of a mission to New York in both Times Square and Central Park.
When Palau's doctors said he had only days to live, his family asked Redman to participate in the memorial service. He had some time alone one day, he says, and he saw a Charles Spurgeon quote that said, "I shall reach my home at last."
"And I thought, That's it. That's the song," Redman says. "And so this song just came out; I wrote this song. It says, 'Beauty for ashes/ glory for tears/ when we reach our home at last/ Gladness forever/ no more fear/ when we reach our home at last." And it goes on to talk about the glories of heaven and seeing Jesus face to face."
When Redman received the text that said Palau was with the Lord, he realized God had given him the song just hours prior to the evangelist's death.
"So I ended up singing that at the funeral, and it was just such a privilege to be able to stand there and honor this man and his family, but also to celebrate what God had done through him, just through simple obedience," Redman says. "And the thing that struck me more than anything was the fact that passion never, never died down; the flame never went out."
"The apostle Paul talks about 'outwardly, we're wasting away, but inwardly, we're being renewed day by day,'" Redman says. As Palau fought cancer, Redman says, "It is very clear his body was wasting away, but inwardly he was being renewed. And I thought, He's just as alive as he ever was in the Spirit, and the way he's talking about Jesus and the way he's preaching heaven.
"And I thought that was such a special thing," Redman says. "That isn't the way of this world. In most things in this world, they fade or they fail at some point, or they're never quite as bright as they once were. That's not the case for the Christian. And that's not the case for this Argentinian evangelist who had this fire for Jesus that wasn't ever going to go out. And it's just the most beautiful thing."
To hear more about some of Redman's relationship with Luis Palau, listen to the entire episode of the Strang Report podcast at this link, and be sure to subscribe to the Strang Report on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast platform. Watch the entire memorial service for evangelist Luisa Palau here (Redman introduces and sings his song, "Home at Last," at 32:42).
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