As the nephew of the world-famous televangelist Benny Hinn, Costi Hinn had a front-row seat to the inner-workings of the prosperity gospel.
In this episode of The Roys Report, Costi talks about the hypocrisy and devastation he witnessed first-hand. He says money given to further the gospel instead went to $25,000/night hotel rooms, private jets, and Ferraris. And though at one time, Costi participated in Benny Hinn’s empire, Costi explains how God began to show him how anti-biblical it was.
JULIE ROYS, COSTI HINN
JULIE ROYS 00:04
As the nephew of the world famous televangelist, Benny Hinn, my guest today is had a front row seat to the inner workings of the prosperity gospel. Today he talks about the hypocrisy and devastation he witnessed firsthand, as well as his own personal encounter with the real Jesus Christ. Welcome to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And today I’m so excited to speak with Costi Hinn, the nephew of the world-famous prosperity preacher, Benny Hinn. Costi, now pastors a Bible Church in Arizona, but he grew up in the Hinn family Empire, something he likens to “a hybrid of the royal family and the mafia.” Costi says the lifestyle was lavish–flying on private jets, staying in Grand resorts, owning a fleet of Mercedes-Benzes and enjoying the abundant life. At one time Costi thought this life was his divine right as a blessed Son of God, but now he believes it was sin based on a false gospel, I can’t wait to get to my interview with Costi, but I just want to take a second to thank my sponsors, Judson University and Marquardt of Barrington. I probably don’t say this often enough, but I could have never launched The Roys Report without the help of Judson University. They’ve been great friends and I have the utmost respect for Judson, President Gene Crume, and the administration, faculty and staff there. If you are looking for a Christian university known for its biblical values, leadership opportunities and strong financial aid. I highly recommend Judson University. For more information just go to JudsonU.edu. I also feel the same way about my other sponsor, Marquardt of Barrington, Dan and Kurt Marquardt are men of integrity and they run an honest car dealership. It’s where my family got our last car and I encourage you, if you’re looking for a vehicle, visit my friends at Marquardt. Just go to BuyACar123.com. Well again, joining me today is Costi Hinn, the nephew of prosperity preacher Benny Hinn. Costi also is a graduate of Dallas Baptist University and has a master’s degree in theology from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He’s the pastor of Redeemer Church in Gilbert, Arizona, and he’s the author of God, Greed and the (Prosperity) Gospel. So Costi, welcome. It’s such a pleasure to have you.
COSTI HINN 02:23
Thank you, Julie, good to be here with you.
JULIE ROYS 02:25
Well, good to be with you. And your book was just eye opening and riveting from the very beginning. And by the way, we do have three copies of Costi’s book that we’re giving away today. So if you’d like to enter to win a copy of that book, just go to JulieRoys.com/giveaway. And it is a fantastic book, but Costi, I’d like to begin by talking about your uncle Benny Hinn. And I want to talk about your spiritual journey. But I know so much of your spiritual journey is rooted in his spiritual journey and the way that that impacted your family. So as I understand it, he was raised in Israel, right? And then came to Canada, shortly after the Six Day War. Can you talk a little bit about how his growing up his early experiences impacted him?
COSTI HINN 03:19
Yeah, our family has Middle Eastern roots and my dad, my uncle Benny, the rest of the family. Most of the eight kids were born in Toronto, Canada, but for the most part, Jaffa, Israel was home. And right around the Six Day War, my grandfather moved them. And one of the challenges that we heard about growing up and knew very well, was the difference between all of the different boys. And in Middle Eastern culture. You want to have a boy first–that’s kind of traditional, and it was back then it a little more shocking or abrupt for our American culture where we’re a little more “ladies first,” and we would be more, we have American values or certain things that would be considered more polite and other cultures would consider it not acceptable. Well, Middle Eastern culture, at least certainly back then, the first child you have, you really want to have a son and that proves a lot. And so my grandmother had my auntie Rose first–a girl–and was sort of the laughing stock, or there’s some snobbery there. And then my uncle Benny was the next born and he’s the firstborn son. And so you have two tensions there. Number one, the lack of a firstborn child being a son, but then you recover from that. And then here comes uncle Benny, and now you have the firstborn son, and really that firstborn son has to carry a weight and a prestige, a maturity. And there’s supposed to be this dignity there. And so my grandfather, of course, looks to him as the oldest son and there’s eight kids total–six boys, two girls–my uncle’s the oldest of six brothers. And he was much less masculine or dominant than the other brothers. And my uncle Chris, who is a wonderful man and I love him dearly–he worked in Homeland Security–he has done a lot of great things in his life–never been a big faith healer guy or anything like that ministry, but he was much more the dominant boy. And on and on and on down the line. And my uncle preferred the kitchen. And again, none of that’s wrong in American culture. If a man cooks–we have chef shows–and all this, so people need to hear this through a Middle Eastern lens. But the idea that he would be more interested in being around my grandmother, and being in the kitchen with her and not being real rough and tumble, that traditional boy, the masculine strength that they were looking for in an oldest son really bothered my grandfather. And so he was worried about uncle Benny the most. He used to worry that he would never amount to anything. That he wasn’t strong, he wasn’t dominant, he wasn’t aggressive. He wasn’t grabbing life by the horns or the bull by the horns, so to speak. And so as they grew up in Canada–they immigrated–and my uncle found a group of friends, and they were a group of charismatic Pentecostals and they were experiencing things and they were going to different types of meetings. And that was really one of the first places that he found acceptance. And, you know, Julie, you see this even today I see it to, unfortunately, some, and I’ve probably been guilty of this certainly I think we all have but in the end, sometimes we get out-loved by people we disagree with. And that is a common thing that we hear about people in charismatic or Pentecostal circles or even some of the extreme fringe groups or not-so-fringe groups anymore. Some of my family members even now that I talked to say, “Yeah, but they, they’re so loving.” And honestly, these people loved my uncle well. They brought him in and friendship. And he had adapted their theology. Pretty soon he was claiming to have experiences and have the Holy Spirit come into his room or Jesus appeared to him and talked to them and tell him things and really built up that storyline that Jesus had called him to be sort of a Joseph. That all his brothers were going to bow basically to him one day, and he was going to be the man. And so some years later in the 70s, he ended up at a Katherine Coleman meeting. And she was the face healing woman sort of in the 70s that really was very famous, wore a white dress. A lot of the services she had or like my uncle has today. And he took to her right away. He never really met her in person or had a big relationship, whether a friendship or mentorship. He saw her at the meeting, and he said, verbatim, I mean, even in his own biography, he said he saw what he wanted to do. He wanted that. He wanted that power. And he was he was very theatrical, even in high school. He acted and was in plays, and he was very, very much the theatrical type, which again, bothered my grandfather. And so all that to say, there did come a time where, you know, a lot of the family could see the frustration my uncle had towards my grandfather. And he showed him basically, “I’m going to be a self made man.” I’m going to make something of myself, I’m going to be somebody. And it wasn’t long through the end of the 70s and the 80s and then, of course, in the early 90s, that my uncle really blew up. But that’s really the backstory. I don’t think a lot of people always understand that in the sort of large-scale ministries or in these modern movements, there is something there. I mean, I would even admit to you, I came out of that movement. And the first thing I wanted to do when the dust settled was what? I wanted to help people on it. I wanted to understand it. And I wanted to push against it. And I wanted to sort of conquer it, in a way. Of course, the Lord is the one who conquers deception ultimately. But we we long to to look back on what either destroyed us. hurt us, caused pain or is causing pain for others, and we want to make it right. A lot of people do that when they come out of abuse, right. And we’ve seen that with some of the women who have stood tall in the last few years against abusers. And that’s really I think, in a way, I’m not excusing him–just as a sort of understanding–Uncle Benny was really showing his father, “Look, I made something of myself. You said I wouldn’t be anything. I did become something.” I’m not a psychologist. I don’t know all the ins and outs of what little boys grow up and want to be or all that. But there definitely is a part of me that’s very understanding and loves my uncle and does see from a familial side, this tension inside of him for so long to silence the voice of my grandfather saying, “you’re the one I’m worried about. I don’t even know if you’ll ever amount to anything.”
JULIE ROYS 09:57
Wow, quite a story and you know, it’s interesting to me how much our early experiences do shape us. And unless we come to terms with it and submit it to the Lord, it can shape us way too much.
COSTI HINN 10:09
JULIE ROYS 10:09
The Lord can obviously redeem that. But I mean, it’s just an interesting backstory. And interesting, like you say about how Benny felt like he was Joseph and his brothers were the ones that were going to bow down to them. Eventually, your father and your other uncles ended up working for Benny, right? They were at the Orlando Christian Center, and they saw this thing just explode, right? I mean, he started preaching and healing became a thing. And next thing, you know, everybody’s rolling in money, and this church is getting huge. And then he’s flying around the world. How did your father describe those early days when the church was planted there in Orlando, and he saw Benny hens ministry just take off?
COSTI HINN 10:56
Oh, yeah, I mean, total revival and it In many ways, kind of looking and thinking like, “we’re–this is it. And we’re at the center of it.” And so the sort of proof was in the pudding, so to speak from my uncle’s standpoint. And this plays to something that is very human and very common, regardless of whether its prosperity gospel or any other thing. Power and influence do something. They prove something for sure. And I’m not saying that that’s always a good thing or always the thing we should go for. But my uncle had 10s of thousands of people following him. He starts a church and it explodes. And the proof is there. The money is there. The Benzes are there. The homes. Kind of all the things that on a human level, we say, “oh, pragmatically, that must be right.” Or, “that is good, because it works.” And so, yeah, my dad looks back on those years–I was born in Orlando before my dad ended up planting a church in Vancouver, British Columbia. So I grew up my first couple years of life, I’m a toddler rolling around on the carpet at Orlando Christian Center. And those early years were really a revival. My dad learned a lot from my uncle. He was the black sheep of the family that sort of a big joke and really funny. My dad literally made fun of uncle Benny for years before getting “saved” at one of his meetings. And he–my dad–was the guy that was in the nightclub scene and he was wearing a fur coat. He had long hair because he was like a, an organizer for different bands like Gladys Knight and others. My dad was really into that whole early music scene. He was just a wild man. And he would have like, you know, even when he went to church for the first time, he had marijuana in his pockets. Like that’s my dad in those days. And he was the black sheep. Everybody else was getting saved, and kind of falling under uncle Benny’s spell, except for my dad. And so that was all in Toronto, initially, Toronto, Canada, when they immigrated. And then he was going over to Michigan and Motown stuff and all of that. And then eventually one night he ends up at a service where my Uncle Benny is preaching. And he commits his life to the Lord at that time. That’s kind of what you did. You went he went down the aisle. He’s like, “I want to serve the Lord.” And my uncle’s like, “man, if Henry can get saved, anybody can get saved.” You know, that was kind of. And then my dad started working for uncle Benny. He carried his Bible. He was a catcher. He went from like making fun of them all the time to serving Him.
JULIE ROYS 13:30
People might not know what that is. I know from reading your book. But what’s a catcher?
COSTI HINN 13:34
Yeah, so a catcher, for those of you who’ve never heard that phrase, we’re not talking baseball. We’re talking about when the faith healers kind of touch or blow on or yell at or throw oil on whatever the method is, they slay the people in the spirit. Or they knock them over. Or they call it, “falling under the power.” It’s when the people fall. And instead of having lawsuits or trusting that, you know, God would catch the people that he’s knocking over–and I’ve been a little cheeky about it–but that, you have catchers. And so my dad was one of those. Well, my uncle launches the church in Orlando and they all go. And they’re working with him. And so my dad learns–like basically an apprentice–how to operate a church and function in a way that mirrors uncle Benny’s ministry. And so by the time he plants the church in Vancouver, British Columbia, it’s a Sunday morning service, and a Sunday night service and then once a month, just like my uncle, my dad had the healing service. Once a month, the first Sunday night of every month was a healing service. And so our church would double in size on Sunday nights, the first Sunday of every month. People from the Baptist Church, the Lutheran Church, the Presbyterians, everybody came to you know, Henry Hinn’s church or Benny Hinn’s church, because they wanted healing. And it was like, they all have the Reformed Theology and the solid Word but we got the Power. And that was really my first understanding of the us versus them in the theological sense. So yeah, my dad learned everything from my uncle in those early years in Orlando.
JULIE ROYS 15:05
So your dad plants this church in Vancouver. You grow up in this–it wasn’t a humongous church in my understanding except for these healing services. Is that right?
COSTI HINN 15:16
It’s true. And my uncle used to always announce that Henry pastors a church with “1000 first class people.” That’s what my uncle always used to say, was like the box thing to sort of talk up the brother. And we had, it kicked off big like, the story goes kind of there was like 1500 people initially in 87 or so when it planted and launched and then they had the Signs and Wonders School of Ministry. My dad was one of the first guys unfortunately to start the schools where you charge tuition and teach ’em how to heal people, which is another topic maybe for another time. And then it just begins to kind of fade. We end up at multiple buildings. There’s a building campaign. There’s money changing hands. And it just ends up going to I think 700 people at this place called Fantasy Gardens. And then it dwindles down to a few hundred at this warehouse facility. And that’s where we were for my entire life up to 19 years old. And eventually it was down to, you know, 100 people, 150 people, and eventually, my uncle wanted my dad to travel with him more. And so he did. And so the people at the church thought, “Well, you know, Henry’s gone all the time traveling.” And he was on TV nationally, he had this kind of big salary, big ministry, big thing going with my uncle and the church just wasn’t really important. And so it started to dwindle, but he still kept doing it.
JULIE ROYS 16:43
So you, here he is pastoring this relatively, I mean, at one point, a pretty small church for most of time, but you’re living like kings and queens. Describe the lifestyle that you lived as a kid growing up in Canada.
COSTI HINN 16:59
Yeah, so imagine this, going to church on Sunday with 150 people and then going home to I think it ended up being like 8900 square feet or whatever. It’s almost 10,000 square feet this house on a couple acres. It’s just monsterous. We got you know, the steam room, the indoor hot tub, the pool, the kind of sport court, like I got a full court basketball thing. I’m playing hockey all the time. Just huge, huge. Living like a hockey player playing in the NHL. Wow. That was life. And so we’re flying private planes, staying in the nicest hotels in the world as kids. And then we get to where I end up working with my uncle. And it you know, by then we had multiple homes. We’re living on the coast in Orange County. We’re driving, and you know, it’s like, “Benz or nothing.” So we’re driving Benzes. We end up with a Ferrari in California, an F430. I ended up with a Hummer Like just money galore. And it’s not like we were business people or my dad wrote bestsellers and it’s like, “Well, it’s book money,” and “we’re just, you know, making money off books,” or, “I’m a business owner,” or, “we bought a McDonald’s. and we do ministry for free.” It was people giving so that they would be healed, and they would be set free. And then we’re just going to live in large, kind of living like LeBron James off of it. So that was really the picture of ministry in my mind.
JULIE ROYS 17:04
COSTI HINN 17:05
And then going and traveling with Uncle Benny and making, you know, $20-30K in a weekend. What do you need? And then you just come home and kind of hang all week. And then the sermon. The sermon. You think, “well, don’t you do ministry like don’t, you go to the office, don’t you? Don’t you create ministry or raise up people and do discipleship?” Well, no. You kind of hang all week and then you start rallying around Saturday. And you kind of do a boxed message you tell lots of stories from the Crusades. You preach whatever you heard, you know, whether it’s Kenneth Hagen or Kenneth Copeland or my uncle or whoever you kind of take what they’re talking about. You plagiarize it. And you give the people a few nuggets and you have some fun and then you go to lunch and then you go back to your mansion and then you travel. Later that week on Thursday, Friday, come home Saturday and do it all again.
JULIE ROYS 18:20
Wow. And a lot of these people that are giving the money from my understanding, they’re not wealthy.
COSTI HINN 19:27
JULIE ROYS 19:28
Some of them are, they’re actually very poor. They have very little bit of money but they have this is like their their last ditch effort to kind of make it they hear a prosperity preacher, and then they give a lot of their money. I mean, did you see that as a kid or even as a young man involved in this ministry and say, “what are we doing?” Or did you just kind of go you know, you just didn’t really see it? Or you just kind of pushed it away?
COSTI HINN 19:52
Both. So I saw it, and then would have to justify it. Otherwise, how do you cope with the people you love an your heroes on Earth being dishonest? You have to come up with a reason. And so mine were, were really just immature and kind of teenage reasons, I think, “Well, you know, maybe it’s not all that bad.” Or, “I guess when you’re the boss, you kind of, you know, you can change the rules a little bit.” Or, “Think of all we’ve given. I mean, all we’ve done over the years for these people.” “I mean, my dad’s done it to my uncle, like they’re given their lives to this. That’s fine, right? They can, they can, you know, take whatever money they want sometimes and do what they want within I mean, look at all they’re doing.” And so you begin to justify, “because of all you’ve done, you can now do what you want.” And that that’s the challenge, right? It’s the authority, the power, the money, all of it, and the lack of accountability. So I’d see that. But I’d also enjoy it. And so when you’re in it, and you’re having a blast, and you’re living the life, it is difficult at times, you’re not sitting there feeling guilty all the time. You’re enjoying life. And you’re enjoying the finest things in life. And so it’s somewhere in there though there would be questions like we would see a news report like Dateline NBC or CBC Fifth Estate. And here was another big justification we would always just say, “That’s the devil attacking us and trying to bring us down.” I’ve heard that a little bit myself, you know, that isn’t that one of the best. deflecting statements to make is really, this is a spiritual attack because we are taking ground from darkness. And the enemy wants nothing more than to bring us down and he’s going to use bitter people and jealous people. And remember what James says where there’s envy, jealousy and strife. selfish ambition, oh, there’s gonna be every evil work. That’s what we’re seeing. This isn’t evil work against us. You know, Paul, he was opposed. Jesus was opposed. Peter was opposed. John was opposed. In here today just like Jesus said we were going to be hated. We’re hated for his name. And what an honor and meanwhile your drivers turning the key over in your Bentley with the lamb wool carpets and you’re going for another Fogo de Chao feast. And the private rooms and the $10,000 Hotel suites and the you know, 10s of thousands of dollar dinner bills and you’re just living the dream saying the devil is attacking you If anyone comes against it. So that’s one of the ways we insulated ourselves. Sort of like the mafia-royal-family type of thing.
JULIE ROYS 19:52
You became a catcher, right?
COSTI HINN 20:04
JULIE ROYS 21:46
And traveled with your uncle Benny, and you describe some of of what happened. There was one trip you talked about your trip to Dubai.
COSTI HINN 22:51
JULIE ROYS 22:51
Tell me about that trip and what that was like.
COSTI HINN 22:54
So just prior to going to college, the way that the Word of Faith sort of prosperity gospel movement works, if you want God to do something for you, you need to do something for him. And so I wanted to play professional baseball. I wanted to do this and that. So I sacrificed my first year and a half–it was almost two years–after high school, and gave my time and served my uncle Benny, as a sort of like first fruits offering of my life so that before I go play baseball in college, the first of my time will belong to the kingdom of God. And of course, that means serve the, “anointed man of God.” And so here I go, they start you know, like, every American kid is like, “What? You didn’t you don’t go to college? What’s wrong with you? Who doesn’t go to college and goes and works for their uncle before college? Like that’s not first fruits. That’s crazy.” But I did I go work for him. And I give up college and baseball during that time. And I’m a catcher and his personal assistant. So we travel the world. We’re flying on, at that time, it was a Gulfstream 4. There were multiple planes that we would use and have and one of them we would charter from Morris Cerullo, who’s another big faith healer. He just passed away recently, but hewas kind of a big guy in So. Cal. So he would use one from him. And a lot of these guys, they’ll have multiple planes. So they’ll have G5, G4, G3 at the time. And so we’re flying around on a Gulfstream jet.
JULIE ROYS 24:20
COSTI HINN 24:20
And we’re staying in hotels that are just beyond. So one of them was in Dubai. We stay at the Burj Al Arab, the hotel that looks like a giant white sail. And it’s we’re in the Royal Suite. Not just a normal one. It’s got to be the Royal Suite. And it’s $25,000 U.S. a night
JULIE ROYS 24:39
COSTI HINN 24:40
to stay in. So and then picture like my dad had a suite and I stayed with my uncle and my uncle’s son in law, Michael who married Jessica. His son–and they’re in ministry, they kind of do their thing now too with with him. And there we stayed together in one of the rooms because the Royal Suite had I don’t even remember how many but it was a bunch of rooms. And so it’s huge square footage. And, but then my dad has his own suite, some of the team will have their own suite. And those are all $1,000 a night. So just picture with tax and food, some like $40,000 to $50,000 layover to just go play and have fun. I mean, that’s somebody’s salary. And that is what we would do. And we would live large. And picked up by Bentley’s, picked up by Benzes. And always the entourage. So just picture how a celebrity would live and travel and with the entourage and the money and the high life and security. And that’s how we did ministry.
JULIE ROYS 25:39
So you’re out there suffering for Jesus.
COSTI HINN 25:41
JULIE ROYS 25:42
And then there’s a couple experiences you talk about, though, you’re talking about these cracks in the dam. Some of these experiences, one was when you’re in Finland, and
COSTI HINN 25:53
JULIE ROYS 25:54
Benny starts anointing. Was it Benny or was it your dad, I can’t remember.
COSTI HINN 25:58
That one was. My dad.
JULIE ROYS 25:59
Yeah, anointing offering envelopes. Talk about that.
COSTI HINN 26:04
Yeah, that was a big thing back then. And so we are wrapping up this service. Finland is a conservative country. The Finnish people are conservative mature, they are classy they are those people that you know, I would relate it exactly that the Brits. But the way that people are–there’s a properness to them. And we are wrapping up this service. They love the Lord. They’re certainly expressive and worshiping the Lord and pouring out their hearts to Jesus. It’s not like their their properness impacts their love for the Lord. It doesn’t. It’s just the expression or the way that they carry themselves. There’s a dignity, that would be another word I would use for when we experience our time with our Finnish friends and my dad right at the end says, “Get the oil. Get the envelopes.” And I remember thinking, “Oh no, like you’re–don’t do this here.” Like, “This is not the crowd. These aren’t the people.” Plus like, “This just gets awkward.” And so what ends up happening is at the end of some of these services, they’ll do–and remember, we’ve sung for hours, he’s taught, preached, he’s told stories, he’s prayed for the sick. It’s it’s like basically serving everyone the gourmet meal and then you get the check at the end, right? That’s the idea.
JULIE ROYS 27:30
COSTI HINN 27:31
Well, there’s been no offering. And in, in some of the circles that maybe you and I would run in now or know about, there’s the honorarium. And for those of you listening, you get invited to speak somewhere or you preach or typically your, this would be, maybe not how everyone does it, but two things. One, you do not demand some high dollar amount, like if you’re a preacher, like your Tim Tebow, and you know, it’s 50 grand to hire you to speak. You don’t do that. When you’re a pastor, you just go and you serve. And then they’ll say, “Hey, we’ll cover your travel.” Or, “We’ll put you up in a hotel, we’ll take care of your food, we’d love to help you out.” But that would be normal. And there’s another thing you don’t do. So you don’t demand and come in super high dollar amounts just to go speak anywhere. And then the other thing is you don’t do, you don’t ever demand to take your own offering. And that is what we did. So we would go somewhere and say, yeah, we’ll come preach for you. But we take our own offering. And basically what that means is we’re going to we’re going to fleece the people, we’re going to shake them dry. So right at the end, my dad says, “Get the envelopes.” And so he anoints all the envelopes, he says, “Ushers give everyone an envelope. I want every person to get one. Nobody doesn’t get one.” So right away, you have people scared, going, “Okay, the anointed guy said do it. We’re going to cancer if we don’t obey.” So everyone gets an envelope. He says, “I want you to give your best offering.” He gives the big spiel, the big sales, pitch fundraising, and then people start shoving money and checks in it. And then it was, “I want everyone to give and everyone come down here, I’m going to anoint your offering envelope with oil. And I’m going to anoint you.” And so now you have a transaction. You have, “I’m going to give you the Spirit, I’m going to give you an experience with God, I’m going to give you the closeness and the feeling like you’re in the presence of God. And in return, you’re going to pay us.” And that I remember, just, I didn’t like it. But then I didn’t like what happened after is we ended up in a hotel room, and we’re basically dividing up the offering and taking it personally and that I remember. And again, it doesn’t mean that I’m innocent, or that I never did anything wrong, or I never enjoyed the fruits of all of this. But I remember that being a huge rift between me and some family members, and, and I didn’t like it, I hated it. And that was the part I just wanted it to be normal. We go preach, we go do our thing. We can pray for the sick, and then it’s fine even to take an offering like at a crusade or I mean, Billy Graham, there’s lots of people that would do like take a donation or whatever. I get that people love to give, and God honors generosity, and that helps for more ministry and people support, I love that generosity and givings in the Bible. But the idea that we’re going to do it transactionally–you give money and you’ll get this special spiritual experience with God–that is just outside of the biblical model. And so some of those things started clicking for me. And I began to ask questions, I didn’t know where to find all the answers. But that paved the way for when people started to speak into my life, for me to even be open to the fact that something was wrong. It’s because I knew something wasn’t right.
JULIE ROYS 30:40
Well, in some of the places you went to visit, like one of them’s Mumbai, India, where there’s just rampant poverty. And I mean, it’s kind of break-your-heart. I mean, I’ve been in those places. Actually, I was born in Zimbabwe. So I mean, I’ve seen the Third World. I’ve seen what it’s like. Most of my memories aren’t from them, because I was pretty young, but I mean, I’ve been to a lot of third world countries, I’ve seen how they live. It breaks your heart. And this is the thing that always kills me. I don’t get how the prosperity gospel flourishes in these poverty stricken areas. But it does, but that had to have bothered you to see that great poverty. And then you’re staying in these, you know, exorbitant hotels.
COSTI HINN 31:20
It did. And I, again, you would justify it in a couple of ways by number one, saying, “Well, this is our reality. And we’re bringing this reality to them. We’re going to help them get out of their situation.” And so yes, we’re living large, you know, let’s say we were talking to you, I’d say, “Yeah, Julie, I mean, I get it. We’re living large. We’re living the blessed life. But why in the world do you think we go to these countries, it’s to give them the blessed life. Many of these people God’s going to set free, he’s going to heal, he’s going to bless. We’ve got to go give that to them. We are taking the gospel around the world. And we are giving them, showing them the abundant life God has in store for them. So yes, you’re going to see brokenness, yes, you’re going to see poverty. Yes, you’re going to be seeing sickness. But remember, we are the ones bringing them, the good news, the faith, the blessing, the breakthrough, all of that. And so, be very careful judging. Now, Julie one, what you see because it’s what’s going to come after that is going to set them free.” So we would we would justify like that. And then another way to make really good money, give you kind of some more of the scam is if I just like and, and this is so much like the enemy and things that for example, God created right sexuality and marriage. He created amazing things and the enemy works to twist them and use them for the wrong things. He, the Lord, gives us the church and generosity and giving and loving and serving and then people take that, twist it and abuse it well. In the same way, the Lord does use first world money to fund fund Third World ministry. He uses people of means to go and be missionaries and give their lives to places that have not had opportunities to hear the gospel. So, again, a good thing, but used the wrong way. We would go to really wealthy people in America and around the world, big donors. And we would say, “We want to do a crusade in the third world in poverty stricken areas. You know, in Brazil, we want to go to Nigeria, we want to go to Mumbai.” And all of a sudden, what do you think happens? These people with big money think, “Wow, we can be a part of that.” And then one of the biggest pitches we would use is, “You may never get to go there, but your dollars can go there,” which honestly is like, that’s a true statement, isn’t it? Like if if I were to tell someone we’re building an orphanage in Zimbabwe or in Kenya, and you may never get the chance to go there, but you can store up treasure in heaven. Jesus said that you can put money in a continent you’ll never go to and serve people you’ll never meet ’till heaven. All of that is true. But then imagine if I was just doing that, to fill the coffers to live large, and that work was already paid for. Now I’m lying. So we would tell very, very wealthy people to give very, very large amounts of money. And then, you know, a lot of that would just go into the ministry and fund the highlife. And the crusade in many ways would just already be paid for or it would pay for itself or you take an offering to cover it. And so all the money that you raised for it, you get to keep. It would all go to support a lifestyle. It was not to win souls. And that’s the part that in today’s kind of world that I’m in, I’ve had letters from my uncle’s lawyers or other people and they’ll say, you know, “The 40 years of gospel ministry speak for themselves.” And this that the other and I think, “No, we spent you spent 40 years and I spent time in it too. We spent the last four decades using the gospel and using a storyline to fund our celebrity lifestyle, so that we can enjoy ourselves and go to day spas and driving Bentley’s all day. That’s really what we did. And we then we just plagiarized messages again from Kenneth Hagin, and Oral Roberts and other guys who did more work than us, and spit those out at people and then enjoyed our life and went shopping on Rodeo [Drive in Beverly Hills, CA.]” So that’s really what that all was funding.
JULIE ROYS 35:40
Stunningly, you didn’t go to say Oral Roberts University or what I would consider would be a typical school for you to go to. You went to college at a Baptist school, right?
COSTI HINN 35:52
I did. Yes.
JULIE ROYS 35:54
And so this must have been a place where your theology was challenged where people gave you a hard time I’m guessing for being a part of Benny Hinn’s organization. How did that impact you?
COSTI HINN 36:08
Hugely I did go to DBU mainly to play baseball. That was my big focus.
JULIE ROYS 36:15
Dallas Baptist University
COSTI HINN 36:17
Yeah, Dallas Baptist University. I go there to play baseball. And I did not go to ORU. I’d gone on a visit to ORU. My sister went to ORU. My cousin went to ORU. [It] was like the thing to do.
JULIE ROYS 36:31
I visited Oral Roberts University when I was a student in high school.
COSTI HINN 36:34
JULIE ROYS 36:35
I did. I didn’t grow up charismatic, but my mother always would talk about miracles and things that had happened and things she had read and so I was always open to the moving of the Spirit. And I still am. And I still think there’s you know, the majority of the world is charismatic, I mean, whether we like it or not, and so there has to be the Lord working in those those areas. So I yeah, I went to Oral Roberts but I just have this very, very vivid memory of the last day I was there, they encouraged people to come forward to receive the gift of speaking in tongues. And I remember being there, and I’m waiting for this thing to hit me where I’ll start speaking in tongues, right? Yeah. And then they said, “Just start speaking like this.” And they wanted us to imitate them. And at that point, this huge red flag went up inside of me. And I’m like, I know, I’m not going to start imitating. If this is from the Lord, it’s going to be from the Lord and it’s going to be real, but I’m not going to pretend and play this game. So anyway, yeah, I was at Oral Roberts and you were saying you were too. So yeah, how did that go? And how did you end up it at the Baptist school?
COSTI HINN 37:44
Well, in a funny way, we in our family, we just called it the Hinn scholarship. And it was you know, you’re a Hinn, you’re going to to ORU and you’ll go for free because, you know, my uncle would give them a bunch of money or something and all of that, but I remember talking to one of my uncle’s who will remain nameless for now. But he was not in ministry, he ran his own company. I remember him. He told me a story of how he went to Oral Roberts on a visit. And he was nobody. And he was just doing his thing. And then they found out he was Benny Hinn’s brother, youngest brother. And he said, “They started treating me like gold.” And I’ll never forget the story. He told me, I was done. At that point, I was done. And I don’t want any favors. And I didn’t want any, you know, this and that. And so I was, like, impacted by that a lot. I remember thinking, hmm, and this was an uncle who was influential on me and I and I loved dearly. And so I remember thinking, you know what, I don’t want any special treatment either. I want to go somewhere where I’m going to play baseball, and I’m going to go and focus on that and I don’t want the Hinn treatment and all that stuff and people to who and all over who I am. by last name, I just want to go and be normal. So I wanted DBU for a while. I go there, and they were so gracious and kind to meet my first class New Testament survey. My professor who is a pastor at First Baptist Burlison Church says he’s calling out the role. And he goes, “Costi Hinn.” and I’m like, “Here,” in that Texas, you can debate me. And he says, “You kin to Benny?” And I said, “Yes, sir.” He goes, “Oh, I better watch my mouth when we get to the tongues part.” And I said, “No, sir. That’s okay.” And he said, “I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding. You relax, don’t worry about it.” And he was so nice. And I knew all i got i got perfect A in the class because I knew the Bible really well. I it’s not like I grew up, never reading and that’s another interesting thing people don’t realize I don’t think as much Julie is how much Bible was in our home, we listened to adventures. Odyssey like everybody else was super book. We had to memorize scripture. We knew the gospel at the actual gospel. And then, but we, that I think is even scarier is at some point when some of these false teachers meet the Lord, if they haven’t repented, they will have known and tasted and seen and even taught the truth and, and then went way beyond it, and just decided to add in their own version of the gospel, their own rules, their own Empire. And so I knew the Bible and I met DBU and, and they were so kind but I was a real arrogant, young kind of whatever Hot Shot type guy I was parking my Hummer wherever I wanted. I would park it up on the hill, like up on curbs, and it was this giant thing with, you know, 20 twos and TVs in the seats and all that just very, very, you know, high life. And my coach was always talking about the gospel, the Lord the sovereignty of God and I call them cracks in the dam, those moments where he would speak the truth in love with clarity. And of course, I respected him and had great rapport with him. We’re putting cracks in the dam of my belief system. And it was over time that it would come to full fruition. But eventually, my whole theological position was shattered, because it couldn’t stand anymore. There was just no biblical backing, the more I came to know about the true gospel and about the true God.
JULIE ROYS 41:30
Well, that concludes part one of my conversation with Costi Hinn. And as fascinating as that was, I think Part two is even more revealing. In the second part of our conversation costs, he talks about leaving many hands organization, and he said it’s kind of like leaving the mafia. He had death threats, not just against him, but against members of his family, yet cost he chose the road less traveled, he chose to take up his cross and follow Jesus and it’s an incredibly inspirational story. I think you’re definitely going to want to tune in for part two of my conversation with Costi Hinn. Again. You’ve been listening to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And if you’d like to find me online, just go to JulieRoys.com. Also, please subscribe to The Roys Report on Apple podcasts or Google podcasts. That way you’ll never miss an episode. And while you’re at it, I really appreciate it. If you’d help us spread the word about the podcast by leaving a review. And then please share the podcast on social media so more people can hear about this great content. Again, thanks so much for joining me and Costi Hinn for this podcast. Hope you have a great day and God bless