Next to Chairman Kaga, and perhaps Pauly from Fat Pizza, Benny Hinn is my favourite TV star.
Pastor Hinn in Nigerian money row BBC News/June 27, 2005 , By Sola Odunfa
In late April, scores of giant billboards and thousands of wall posters all over Lagos proclaimed the first of three days of divine miracles and healing for at least six million Nigerians - but at the end of the third day, there was more bickering over money than praise to God for mercy received.
The vehicle of the expected wonders of the Holy Spirit was American evangelist Benny Hinn, who flew into Nigeria in a Gulfstream private jet with a large retinue that included his bodyguards. He was received at Lagos airport in a motorcade of Hummer jeeps and other expensive cars. The deaf would hear, the blind would see, the lame would jump and walk, barren women would conceive, the jobless would gain employment, and the enemy - both seen and unseen - would be vanquished. Mention any problem - physical, spiritual, economic - Hinn had come with the instant solution.
But things did not go well.
About 300,000 people attended the event each night - a modest congregation by Nigerian crusade standards. It is estimated that about 1 million worshippers attend the monthly Holy Ghost Congress service organised by The Redeemed Christian Church God (RCCG) at the same venue. Whatever disappointment he felt on the first and second days of the miracle crusade, Hinn kept to himself - but he opened up with anger on the final day.
"Four million dollars down the drain," he shouted into the microphone from the huge rostrum.
He said that he had been assured by the local organising committee that at least six million people would attend the crusade - but the total turnout was only around one million. As a result, he realised that all the mega public address equipment he had flown in from the US was not needed. He also complained about some claimed expenditures, the charges imposed on pastors who attended his day-time seminar, and journalists who sought to cover the crusade. He then announced publicly that he would not provide any more funds, and that the local organisers should pay all outstanding bills from the collections they made on the first two days.
The Nigerian head of the local organising committee, Bishop Joseph Olanrewaju Obembe, accused other Nigerian Pentecostal preachers of sabotaging the crusade and pedalling false information to Hinn and his aides out of envy, and to discredit him. The Pentecostal faith in Nigeria is a veritable goldmine, judging by the opulence of most of its pastors. It is made even more attractive because incomes of churches are tax-exempt. Nearly all the churches are the private property of their pastors or founders and their immediate families.