Benny Hinn was born Toufik Benedictus Hinn in the coastal city of Jaffa in Israel in 1952. He was one of eight children born to an Armenian mother and a Greek father. The family was Greek Orthodox. In 1968, they emigrated to Canada settling in Toronto and Benny, who by this time was a young teenager, began attending Georges Vanier High school, north of Toronto.
While at school, Benny befriended a group of religious students who introduced him to prayer meetings and teaching of the Gospel. Benny eventually became a Born Again Christian, despite concerns and initial opposition of his family. When he was 21, he attended a healing service in Pittsburgh headlined by evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman. She would become a major influence on his life, so much so, that he emulates her style to this day.
Benny Hinn began his healing ministry in Toronto by hosting his own evangelical program on local television. His success in Canada inspired him to travel with his healing missions. In Orlando, Florida he met and married Suzanne, the daughter of a local pastor and it was there that Benny Hinn began to build his evangelical empire.
Today he is known as Pastor Benny . Without doubt he is one of the best known and possibly richest televangelists in the world. Each year he travels the world conducting so-called miracle healing crusades that are very closely patterned to a rock concert tour.
He produces a daily television show called "This is Your Day" from his studios based in California and has written several books about his life and ministry, which he markets and sells, along with video tapes of his crusades, music CDs and bibles.
Benny Hinn is also a proponent of the Prosperity Gospel or the Word of Faith movement. As is implied by the name "Prosperity Gospel" the supporters believe that faith works as a mighty power or force. That it is through their faith that they can obtain anything they want – such as health, wealth, or any form of personal success. However, this force is only released through their faith. According to Pastor Benny if a person expresses their faith by sowing a sufficient monetary seed into his ministry - that person will be granted divine physical healing.
Some Christian groups have been critical of Benny Hinn for preaching the Prosperity Gospel and for misinterpreting scriptures on a number of occasions.
He has also been criticized by a number of Christian watchdog groups for not joining the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. The Council is the leading accreditation agency that helps Christian ministries earn the public's trust through adherence to seven standards of accountability. It has over 1,100 members, including Pat Robertson and Billy Graham. Benny Hinn refuses to join.
Under U.S. tax laws the Hinn Ministry is not legally obligated to makes its finances public because it is a religious organization.
Although most major American churches and ministries release financial information voluntarily there are no public records for how much the Hinn ministry makes or how that money is spent.
Benny Hinn insists that every penny is spent on God's work. But the fifth estate obtained confidential financial records from inside the Hinn ministry. These documents were provided by individuals who say they want the public to know how Benny Hinn spends the money entrusted to him.
The fifth estate asked Roddy Allan, a forensic accountant, to review the ministry's expense and travel records. He says, "I'm a mere bean counter, but it would be hard to persuade me that you had to incur that kind of expense in order to accomplish a business objective. "
Here is a very small sampling of financial records from the summer of 2003. At that time Hinn had crusades in St. Petersburg, Russia and Stockholm, Sweden then departed for a four day whirlwind trip to Italy and London, billing it as a simple layover.
Justin Peters was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The influence of two Christian parents coupled with the challenges of Cerebral Palsy led Justin to begin inquiring about Jesus at an early age. In fact, he became a born again Christian at age seven.
As a teenager, Justin visited faith healers, hoping to be healed himself, but his hopes were unfulfilled. In November 1995, while attending Mississippi State University, Justin decided that his calling was to enter the ministry and become an evangelist. With that goal in mind, he set off to study theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
His Master's thesis, completed at the end of 2002, was an examination of the life and ministry of Benny Hinn. As research for his thesis, Justin attended several Benny Hinn Crusades. However, his requests for interviews with Benny Hinn were denied.
READ part of Justin's thesis (.pdf)
Justin is now a staff evangelist at the First Baptist Church in Vicksburg, Mississippi but he travels often to preach to other congregations across the United States. He is an avid hunter and fisherman.
Jordie, the young man in Calgary is still on dialysis and still looking for his miracle.
Little Grace is fine, says her Mom, but there's been no change in her physical condition. They haven't attended any more of Pastor Benny's crusades.
Also, in his letter to his followers after our original broadcast, Pastor Benny suggests that our reporting on his hotel expenses was misleading. He claims that the hotels he uses often give him rooms for free, or "deeply discounted". Well, we checked on that and the two luxury hotels which appear in our story, the ones in London and Milan, both told us that they do not offer deep discounts or freebies on those rooms.