TV healer prepares to work 'miracles' in SAR

South China Morning Post/May 9, 2001
By Jo Bowman

A controversial American TV evangelist who "cures" the blind, crippled and infertile in mass healings is due to perform tonight in Wan Chai.

Benny Hinn, the inspiration for Steve Martin's character in the film Leap of Faith, is holding a "crusade" in a 7,000-seat hall at the Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Organisers of the event, also due to be held tomorrow night, refused to discuss the line-up yesterday or say who would be attending.

Mr Hinn usually appears on stage in a trademark white suit and calls people up before vast crowds to be healed by God through him. When he touches them, they pass out and collapse into the arms of waiting men.

Among those singing his praises is boxer Evander Holyfield, who credits Mr Hinn with curing him of a heart condition. But critics describe Mr Hinn as a "snake-oil salesman" who gives desperate people false hope.

His ministry is said to receive millions of dollars each year in donations, which are put towards his grand performances and pay for him to travel by private jet.

Mr Hinn has a daily TV show in the US called This is Your Day, in which he performs "miracles" and urges viewers to reach out to their screens so they might be healed. His Web site allows visitors to send in prayer requests by clicking on the type of problem they or a friend are suffering.

Problems range from blocked arteries to struggling to pay the rent. Visitors are also invited to send a "gift" by quoting their credit card number.

The site describes how he recently performed "truly amazing" miracles during a two-day visit to Las Vegas in February.

"One man who had been hit by a train and had pins in his leg was jumping and running all over the platform without any pain," it says. "A pregnant woman whose doctors were concerned because the baby had not been moving was overjoyed when she began to feel the kicking of an active child.

"And no one who attended Friday night's service will ever forget a nine-year-old boy named William. With tears streaming down his face, he told of a severe visual impairment that he had endured all his life. He stated he could see people, whereas before he only saw dots," it says.

Sceptics say the "healed" are not overcome by the holy spirit but a type of hypnotism or the power of suggestion. Organisers of the Hong Kong event told the South China Morning Post they were busy with a rehearsal last night and could not discuss Mr Hinn's visit or the shows.

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