My precious mom went home to glory May 3, on her 85th birthday. Not only did she impact my family and me immeasurably, she touched so many other people during her lifetime. And what a life she lived!
My mom, Clemence Salameh, was born in Palestine to a family that had emigrated from Armenia, the southern European nation. She and my Greek-lineage father, Constandi, met, fell in love, married, and settled in the coastal city of Jaffa. She was only sixteen. After the birth of their first child, my sister Rose, she desperately desired a son to be heir to the family name. She prayed, “God, I have only one request. If You’ll give me a boy, I’ll give him back to You.” On December 3, 1952, I was born. Shortly afterward, she received a dream:
Pastor Benny Shares Memories of His Remarkable Mother
“I saw six lilies—six beautiful lilies in my hand. And I saw Jesus enter my room. He came to me and asked me for one of them. And I gave Him one lily.”Eventually, our family had six boys—Benny, Chris, Willie, Henry, Sammy, and Michael—and two girls. My sister Rose was the oldest in the family, and Mary was the youngest, but my mom never forgot her bargain with God. “Benny,” she told me later, “you were the lily I presented to Jesus.”
Our home in Jaffa was quite unique. Religiously we were Greek Orthodox, yet we attended a school run by Catholic nuns. We considered ourselves Christian Arabs, yet my father worked closely with the Israeli government, settling grievances between citizens and government agencies. Our city was an international melting pot, and our close friends included Muslims, Jews, and Christians from many different backgrounds and nationalities. In 1968, even after we moved the 5,757 miles from the war-torn Middle East to Canada, our home on Crossbow Crescent continued to be a meeting place for get-togethers, where everybody sang and danced to the familiar blare of Arabic music. And central to all those times was my mom, who loved to cook and entertain.
Mom’s Sharing Heart
Though our family was religious, none of us knew Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. That began to change in February 1972 when I prayed to accept Him into my heart. Over the following years, one by one, my sisters and brothers did the same. By April 1974, when the Lord called me to proclaim the Gospel, neither of my parents had become believers, and things became increasingly difficult in the Hinn home. I was forbidden to talk about my newfound faith, so there wasn’t much communication between my parents and me. Neither of them knew that I had been healed from a lifetime of stuttering on the night I first stood to preach. That changed in April 1975, when a newspaper advertisement heralded an upcoming meeting with Benny Hinn in a small church. Unbeknownst to me, my parents spotted the ad and showed up at the service. I was nervous as I spoke, then crestfallen when I gave the invitation and saw my parents leaving. That night when I came home, Mom and Dad were waiting for me, sitting on the couch. I was even more panic-stricken than when I saw them enter the church. After a tense silence, Dad finally spoke in a soft voice, “Son, how can we become like you?” Tears were falling down my mom’s cheeks. This was real! I began weeping too. And for the next hour, I opened the Scriptures and explained the verses that the Holy Spirit had used to transform me. Eventually I led my parents in the prayer of salvation. “Benny,” Dad said afterward, “do you know what convinced me? When you started preaching, we were so amazed. I turned to your mother and said, ‘That’s not your son. Benny can’t talk like that without stuttering. His God must be real!”
“His God Must be Real!”
It has been forty-one years since then, but during the ensuing decades, my mom’s faith stood the test of time, watching her family expand greatly, enduring my father’s home-going in September 1982, and seeing this ministry grow from its infancy to a worldwide outreach. During the remainder of her life, nothing made Mom happier than sharing her love with our partners. As always, her heart was open to all who had needs, and the multitudes she met were touched by her generosity and warmth. She became one of the most effective, fervent prayer warriors I’ve ever known, often fasting and praying for God to move mightily to meet others’ needs. I can’t begin to measure the impact she made through her intercession for our family, our partners, the people who attended our crusades and watched our television broadcasts, and our many ministry outreaches. Only heaven will know the full extent of her influence!
A Faith Strengthened Through the Years
Psalm 116:15 declares, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Certainly this is true for Clemence Hinn, my mom. And while I join all our loved ones and ministry family in mourning the loss of this remarkable woman—“Yama” to her eight children and “Teta” to her growing number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren—I also am celebrating her reunion in heaven with Constandi, my father, and especially the Lord Jesus, whom she served so faithfully. What an amazing legacy she has left for each of us to follow. I can say without a shadow of a doubt, she was ready for her graduation. During many of our conversations over the past few years, she often spoke of going home to heaven. And now both of my parents are with the Lord, part of the “cloud of witnesses” spoken about in Hebrews 12:1. I cherish the moments I spent with them here on earth, and I am so grateful that God allowed me to help reach them with the message of salvation. I now look forward to someday spending eternity with them rejoicing around the throne in heaven!