In a rare interview, controversial preacher and faith healer Benny Hinn laid some of his cards on the table, saying he's been wanting to answer his critics for 20 years.
"I'm very pleased ... because it's time for me to tell it all," Hinn told ABC's Dan Harris in an interview that aired Monday night. "I don't want people talking for me. I want to talk for myself."
For years, Hinn has been a subject of scrutiny by the media and recently the government for the miraculous healings he claims to do and the lavish lifestyle he leads.
His ministry's latest report from the "Fire Conference and Miracle Service" last month in New York states that teens were healed of leukemia, lung cancer and partial deafness.
"There were so many miracles of healing that people were lined along the sides of the auditorium from the front to the back waiting to come to the platform to testify of God’s healing touch!" the report touts.
Such conferences, held around the world, have brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time to the ministry, all of which are donations from attendees – many of whom were seeking a physical healing.
Hinn, who was born into a Greek Orthodox Christian family and later became a zealous charismatic, admitted to ABC that he doesn't have medical verification of the healings and said some people who claimed they were healed on stage at the events were actually not.
He said, "These are things that I cannot explain because I am not the healer. I'm human like you."
When confronted with the question on whether he's taking advantage of devoutly religious and vulnerable people for his own enrichment, Hinn said, "You cannot fool all the people all the time. I think if I was fooling the people, over 35 years of it now I would've been caught already fooling them."
Hinn and his ministry are currently under a Senate investigation for possible financial misconduct. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) sent letters two years ago to a total of six ministries, requesting for financial statements and responses to questions on organizational and personal finances. Grassley is trying to determine whether the ministries are improperly using their tax-exempt status to shield extravagant lifestyles.
Only two, including Hinn's World Healing Center Church, of the six ministries have provided extensive answers to all questions in a series of submissions.
"I have nothing to hide," Hinn told ABC's Harris. But Hinn's ministry declined to turn over any of the documents to ABC.
This is the first interview in which Hinn has allowed questions regarding the investigation. He told Fox News earlier this month, "[The media] are never going to paint me as I want to be painted."
"But, really, it doesn’t matter as long as people give me the chance to talk," said Hinn, whose program is televised in over 200 countries.
Harris hit him with questions that many have been raising since Hinn began drawing millions of followers and dollars. Although the preacher's publicist interrupted the taping a couple of times obviously concerned with the direction of the interview, Hinn insisted, "The questions [you] asked me, I've wanted someone to ask me for the last 20 years of my life."
When asked whether he had any misgivings about the comfortable lifestyle he leads – including a private jet, fancy hotel stays and nice clothes – he immediately responded, "No."
"Look, you know there's this idea supposedly that we preachers are supposed to walk about with sandals and ride bicycles. That's nonsense," he said, noting that the private plane is "a necessity, not a luxury."
According to ABC, Hinn's ministry collects an estimated $100 million a year. Hinn revealed that his salary is "over a half-million" but declined to give the exact figure.
"Let me just tell you this, my aim in life is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, that's all I care about," said Hinn.
He insisted that it would be his pleasure not to receive a cent from the ministry for what he does. But that came with a condition – that he is at least "completely taken care of financially," whether it's through a side job or the assistance of someone else.