By Costi Hinn
In 1999, Benny Hinn was the most famous and controversial prosperity preacher and faith healer in the world. But to me, he was my anointed uncle whom God was using to show us how to live a life of blessing and abundance. It was the way God intended everyone to live—we were living proof!
In one sermon I heard growing up, my uncle taught us that if we wanted God to do something for us, we needed to do something for him. This applied to everything—especially miracles. Whenever possible, Benny would preach to the masses that if they wanted a miracle for their sickness and disease, they needed to give money to God.
No money? No miracle!
Giving to God was the secret to unlocking your dreams. It was the secret to job promotions. It was access to our divine bank account.
My uncle often told the story of how he got out of debt using this system of belief. His father-in-law had told him that in order to be debt free, he needed to pay God. Benny explained that once he started emptying his bank account and giving money away to ministry, money started showing up from everywhere!
One of Uncle Benny’s heroes who taught him about this system of believing, giving, and receiving was Oral Roberts. It seemed he could open the windows of heaven and cause them to rain down blessings on his own life. It was a simple money-in, money-out transaction, with God as the banker.
Roberts had used his teachings on money and faith to rise out of obscurity and into stardom, then helped others do the same. Now, so was my uncle.
For a long time, things went well for the Hinn family. We were happy, healthy, and rich. But inevitably, real life intruded for my mom’s side of the family. That’s when we went into damage control mode.
When I was in fourth grade, my uncle George was diagnosed with cancer. He had been pastoring at our church after my dad hired him, and I thought the world of him. With five kids in the family, my uncle George and my auntie Debbie were facing a monumental challenge.
The situation worsened. After a skin graft, the best efforts of doctors, and our prayers for healing, Uncle George experienced a stroke, along with setbacks to his health that eventually led to his passing away. It was devastating.
Sunday after Sunday, we heard from the pulpit, “God has guaranteed healing! Just have faith and God will do whatever you ask him to do.” So many people had been brought up on stage and declared healed. So many people, but not Uncle George?
Only one explanation could satisfy the confusing question that became the elephant in every room we occupied: How in the world did he not get healed?
Before I knew it, my auntie Debbie had distanced herself and my five second cousins from us and the church. Intense drama unfolded as other people left both before and after that time, including my mom’s brothers. It was a mass exodus of people we were close to.
It hurt so bad to see Uncle George die, but why did all these people I loved have to leave the church as well? We were supposed to be family. And our family was supposed to be different—blessed and anointed.
Soon we were given an explanation for his death. We rationalized that Uncle George (and his family) must have done one or more of the “big four,” which caused him to lose whatever declared healing he was guaranteed. The big four, or a short list of reasons why God didn’t heal people, went something like this:
- Making a negative confession: using negative words about your physical condition would hinder your healing.
- Hanging around negative people: allowing the negative words of others about your physical condition would hinder your healing.
- Not having enough faith: not believing or giving enough money to prove your trust that God would heal you.
- Touching the Lord’s anointed: speaking against or opposing a man of God who is anointed.
Turns out, as the story went, that Uncle George and the people around him did all four of these. Most of all, we were told that Uncle George had started to hang around with people who spoke negatively about my father and our church. There was a zero-tolerance policy in our belief system for this sort of thing.
The “touching the Lord’s anointed” teaching came from a biblical principle observed in the Old Testament. In 1 Samuel 24:6, King David had just held back from an opportunity to kill his enemy and attacker, King Saul. He sneaked up on him and cut a small piece of King Saul’s robe off and later showed it to him as a sign that he meant him no harm and could have killed him but didn’t.
The principle that guided David was that King Saul was still an anointed king of Israel and it was not David’s place to kill him or “touch” him. On this Old Testament principle of not killing kings, our church took touching the Lord’s anointed very seriously.
The story I was eventually told is that Uncle George started playing softball on Sundays to try to stay active during his battle with cancer, which was a serious no-no in our legalistic church. When my father confronted him about this, Uncle George did not follow orders and perhaps had a few other opinions as well.
Since Uncle George had begun to hang around with negative people who weren’t mesmerized by my father, they had corrupted his life and removed him from God’s favor. While playing softball one day and rounding third base, Uncle George had a stroke and collapsed, doctors could do nothing for him, and he eventually died because he let negative people into his hospital room and into his life.
That was the simple explanation. Whether or not this was true, it was the simple explanation.
Many people left the church over the following years, and if they died anytime after leaving the church, they also joined the illustration file of those who had touched the Lord’s anointed. Many others, however, chose to stay, believing that God’s favor and protection were contingent on their staying under my father’s leadership.
Editor’s note: Since then, Costi Hinn says he went from being a next-generation preacher in a prosperity gospel dynasty to abandoning the family faith for the true gospel.