Although our photographers were clearly not welcome as security guards prevented us from getting too close for Mr Hinn’s comfort, Newsday reporters covered the event with an open mind without prejudging the man who was endorsed by the presence of the Nigerian High Commissioner, former president Arthur NR Robinson, and Prime Minister Patrick Manning.
Hinn daily promised the 30,000-strong crowd that they could be healed of all their illnesses, whether physical, psychiatric or spiritual.
We have no knowledge or evidence as to whether any lasting medical healing occurred.
What we do know is that after two hours of steady build-up through song, prayer and preaching, Hinn had primed the crowd to, in his own words, “Expect your miracle!”
Hinn said that if people simply believed they would be healed and then called out and/or reached out to God, they would receive their healing. There is no doubt that most people attending had an intense experience of worship, which was so profound that many “felt” they had been healed.
However the question for us is the lack of any hard evidence that any permanent healing of serious illness had occurred. Did he for example simply lift people from a mental depression which was causing them psychosomatic illness? Individuals may have been given a “lift” emotionally by the event which could produce euphoria to temporarily mask their medical symptoms such as pain, but will it last? We have no way of knowing.
Reporters and photographers were not allowed to get close to the persons who were supposedly being healed. We would have thought that Hinn would have welcomed the verification by local media, just as the resurrected Christ himself allowed Thomas to touch his wounds, and just as Christ instructed the lepers he had healed to present themselves in the temple for public scrutiny. Many American media houses over the years have questioned Hinn’s inability or unwillingness to provide medical proof of his healings and his lack of follow-up interest in the “healed” patients.
Moreso, at the crusade individual people are hardly qualified to diagnose their own internal illnesses such as the woman who went on-stage and said she felt she had been healed of a cyst on her ovary. Hinn alluded to the healing of the eleven-year-old daughter of the Nigerian High Commissioner who suffers from sickle cell anaemia.
Most of the “healed” persons presented to the public on-stage said they were healed of illness inside their bodies, a claim impossible to verify without scrupulous, long-term medical checks. We now invite them to do just that, and let us know in a few months from now.
Sadly despite the intensity of their desire to be healed, we saw many disabled persons with malformed legs in wheelchairs, leave the event unhealed.
Benny Hinn has attracted much controversy globally about the efficacy of his “miracle healing” and the non-accountability of his church finances. In light of this background, and in light of the fact that Trinidad and Tobago is a multi-denominational society, questions arise as to the propriety of the participation in the event by public figures such as Prime Minister Patrick Manning.
The only certainty that came out of the event is that people are desperate for some sort of miracle in their lives, whether healing of body, mind or soul.
While some people daily work hard towards creating their own miracles, others were seeking immediate divine intervention.
Was Benny Hinn’s visit this miracle? You decide.