“Mmm, this coffee reminds me of the time I traveled to Bogotá, Colombia!”
“You want tacos? I love that! Tacos may not be Colombian food, but I’ll use them as an excuse to talk about my trip to Bogotá!”
It’s tough to bring up international travel without sounding like that insufferable person at a party who can’t stop bragging about their amazing trips or, even worse, a wannabe social media influencer. However, I am going to ignore the negative perception of travel stories because I want to share a peculiar one from my time in Bogotá, Colombia. It all began at a Colombian church’s Thanksgiving dinner…
I had just made my way through a small crowd of energetic people filling their plates with a fantastic Thanksgiving spread when I found a seat at one of the long tables set up in the church’s community room. My friends, John Mark and Ella, were still in the food line, so I did my best to blend into the festive scenery so as to not prompt any conversation that would betray my serious lack of Spanish-speaking abilities. This was working well until I heard someone ask, “You know Benny Hinn? You love Benny Hinn?”
Turning, I saw a man sitting next to me with a plate full of turkey and mashed potatoes and an earnest expression on his face. He repeated the questions and expectantly waited for my response. What I’d heard of Benny Hinn hadn’t painted him in the best light, so I bought some time by clearing my throat and taking an incredibly slow drink of water while wracking my brain for biographical details aside from his scam artist reputation. I could have just shared those thoughts, but I didn’t think it appropriate to tell those observations to a man who seemed to be quite a fan of Mr. Hinn. After my drawn-out pause, I told him I had heard of Benny and knew of him as a preacher down south.
The man must have taken my diplomatic description as a sign that I only had good thoughts towards Benny Hinn because he went on to tell me that not only was he a preacher but that he was also a miracle worker. My skepticism must have replaced my attempted stoicism because he began emphatically telling me about the miracles that Benny had performed. He was telling me that Benny and his “ministry” had practically raised people from the dead and that—brace yourself—all you had to do to have a personalized miracle was to make a generous donation to his ministry (or shell corporations).
I sat in stunned silence as he continued by telling me that paying Benny could produce miracles of Old Testament proportions, and before long, he was hurriedly writing the way to discover the greatness of Benny Hinn on a scrap of paper that he’d pulled from his jacket pocket. Having never expected someone to try to get me to hop on the “Hinn Wagon,” especially in my current setting, I struggled to find a way to respond to what he was saying.
When the paper was slid across the turkey-themed table cloth, I saw that it listed the Benny Hinn Ministries website along with the man’s phone number. He then said, “You watch Benny Hinn and then you call me. If you like Benny or don’t like Benny, you call me.” Feeling trapped by the conversation at this point, I thanked the man for the suggestion, took the paper from him, and began looking for my friends, whom I hoped could rescue me from this bizarre scenario. Thankfully, they arrived at the table shortly thereafter, and John Mark, after seeing my expression (which was a dead ringer for Brie Larson in the movie Room), pulled me into a conversation that didn’t have to do with Benny Hinn.
I didn’t have any further conversation with Benny’s mini-me aside from saying goodbye at the end of the dinner, but as I walked back to my friends’ apartment, I couldn’t help but wonder where his quest would lead. Would he exchange his life savings for the promise of a miracle or make a pilgrimage to Irving, Texas? I’ll never know, but from time to time I’ll think of this man and hope that he finds the truth for which he was so desperately searching.