We had a great treat in church tonight – special guest was Dr Benny Prasad from Bangalore, India, who is famous for two things:
1. Holder of the World Record of being the fastest man to travel to every country in the world – 245 including Antarctica – in 6 years, 6 months and 22 days (his passport is 14 books thick!); and
2. Designer of the world’s first bongo guitar (pictured below), literally a guitar with two bongo skins at strategic corners; and a 54-string guitar called the Bentari.
Not bad for a guy who was a misfit in his family, suffered from severe asthma; and who tried to attempt suicide at 16 thinking he was the most useless guy in the world! Thanks be to God, Benny heard the Big Man who told him that He has plans for him that would take him around the world in about 2394 days….
Besides being a talented musical chap, Dr Benny is a real funny guy too. He told of how as a 5-year-old he unwittingly burnt the barn down just to show his 4-year-old cousin what fire was. He took us Singaporeans to task for complaining about “2-minute” MRT breakdowns when he had taken flights in remote countries in the world that (i) only flew once every 3 months and has to be booked a year ahead (ii) planes that stopped in the middle of a field mid-way just to pick up extra passengers (!) and (iii) airlines that still sold tickets despite being defunct for years!
For someone who since young was told that he will never amount to anything, becoming famous for being a musical talent who had performed in various global events such as the 2006 FIFA World Cup and Olympics Games, is nothing short of a miracle as far as he’s concerned. Everything he does, he gives thanks and glory back to God. And wherever he goes, he try his best to preach Jesus. Even on CNN. When they didn’t allow him to wear a hat that has the word “Jesus” on it, he prayed for wisdom to be creative and came up with a new hat (as above) that has the words, “Thanks be to Jesus, I’m an Indian!” and CNN allowed it on air! “Cos if they don’t, it would be considered racist!” HAHAHAHA! Brilliant!
His travel stories are hilarious too, yet demonstrated just how God works in mysterious ways indeed. When trying to get to Antarctica, he was’t able to find a way in till he was a plane and happened to sit next to the Bishop of a church in Greenland who has a branch in the South Pole! “Don’t worry,” she said. “I will get my man there to handle everything for you!” And the last country on his world record trail has to be none other than – you guessed it – Pakistan. It’s easier to get an Indian through the eye of a needle really! No way you are getting a visa, yelled the embassy man. But lo and behold, when Benny as in South Korea (of all places), who would he meet at the lift speaking a familiar dialect from his land but two gentlemen from a Pakistani government agency! Benny took the chance to beg for a visa, even performing a mini concert of gospel tunes in their hotel room and voila, he had a visa within days! Praise God indeed!
Though Benny is still travelling – glad he could make a stop here in Singapore! – God’s current plans for him is to stay put in his hometown of Bangalore, set up a cafe and rescue youths who have attempted or contemplating suicide. Bangalore it seems has one of the highest suicide rates among youths in the country. The Chai Cafe – which only serves tea – aims to be a clubhouse-cum-church that will provide youths in the city to express their talents and build up their self esteem. As Benny keeps reminding those who are parents, never shame your children and never make your expectations higher than your child’s potential.
To run his latest project, Benny continues to keep to his promise to God of not ever having to beg for money, borrow, or have a credit card. All his life, even with all the travelling he had to do, are provided by God (in one way or another) and through the sales of his CDs – the latest of which is Tribute to the Unknown God – which are never priced but are dependent on how much the buyer wants to pay for it. Now that’s what we call living by faith!
Bless you, Dr Benny, and do come back soon!