It's rare for people to ever want to leave behind a life of excess and luxury, but televangelist Benny Hinn's nephew, Costi, did so because he wanted to grow closer to God.
Costi recently shared his story during an interview with minister Justin Peters, and described that he grew up working as an usher for his uncle, Benny Hinn's crusade events. His main task? Costi said it was to carry "around uncle Benny's Louis Vuitton bag."
"We lived the dream. Expensive hotels, cars, travel. The biggest being that 'Jesus provided all of that.' You didn't touch the Lord's anointed... we revered our leaders," he explained. "We believed that we were part of an anointed heritage of leaders - they were all men of God. They could heal and operate in the five-fold ministry: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher."
When he was in college, Costi got the chance to travel around the world with his uncle. During that time, Costi admitted that he thought of God as a genie. Just as long as he played his cards right, God would do anything for him.
"I thought the ultimate door here would be to work for my uncle Benny, to put God first, and God would open a door," he said. "That's how it works in the prosperity gospel movement - God is your magic genie. You rub him right, you do the right things. Give right, serve right, make decisions right, believe right, think right, and you'll get what you want."
He travelled with his uncle for well over a year, and they went from London to Australia to Greece and Israel. They stayed in the swankiest hotel suites with a $25,000 per night bill, he recalled.
Things would have gone on had Costi not stopped and entertained the "big questions" in his mind. Despite the promises made by his uncle of healing and miracles, some prophecies did not come true, he noted. Costi recalled that a young girl with a severe deformity did not get well even after they prayed over her.
"I was bawling my eyes out later that night saying 'God why didn't you heal her?! Everyone was supposed to get healed," he shared.
When they were in Kenya, Hinn promised the gathering that Jesus was going to physically appear. Costi said he desperately believed it to be true, because he wanted God to heal people and solve their problems. When his uncle's promises failed to come true, Costi began forming more questions.
"It was something I would think about but lightly question," he said. "So I would hint to my Dad 'Hey, why didn't this happen?' One friend had cancer in high school. I just thought 'Let's pray for her, we'll get her healed.'"
Unfortunately, Hinn failed to answer Costi's questions. When he attended Dallas Baptist University, a sports coach gave him a new theological outlook.
"He begins to just plant 'seed bombs,'" Costi said, in reference to the "seed faith" theology of his uncle. "They were gospel bombs getting dropped in my life. One of them was the sovereignty of God."
Things got even more rocky between Costi and his family when he started dating a girl who did not come from a rich family. One of his family members even came up to him and said, "God spoke to me last night in a dream - she's not your wife."
They were also upset by the fact that the girl did not speak in tongues. "So a domino went down, and all of a sudden another one and another one," said Costi. "You can't force everyone to speak in tongues. There are no second-class citizens in Christ. That was another truth-bomb."
Now, Costi is the Executive Pastor at Mission Bible Church in Tustin, California. He is thankful that he was given the chance to serve at the church even though he was "the Hinn kid."
"Pastor Tony [Wood] could care less what my name was," Costi added. "That was a big kicker for me."