There are three things that we’ll talk about here; excellence and integrity and purpose, and I want to mention all these three things. But I’m going to do it from the perspective that I like. The reason I failed in my studies is because they did not fix the curriculum properly, you know, the material was not done well. Because I like books – I like books where there are big pictures and less words. And it was really hard to find anything other than Tinkle Comics or something similar. So, I’m going to speak from that perspective.
Three things- first thing is excellence in simplicity. Many times, when we think about excellence, we think that it has to be very expensive, a lot of research has to go into those things; but there is so much of beauty in simplicity, and I’ll start that with my marriage. I got married on 6th of August last year. The vehicle that we used for our wedding was an auto rickshaw. And I’ll tell you that so much money is spent on things where we are trying to do things excellently, especially in the area of marriage. And here we chose to use auto rickshaws, my wife and myself. It was a big hit – even a Rolls-Royce wouldn’t have had so many pictures taken. But for two auto rickshaws, people stood in the line to take pictures with an auto rickshaw, and it was the cheapest mode of transportation compared to all the other BMWs and so on.
I want to challenge you today that as Christians, as you pursue excellence, it’s very important to keep in mind that with simplicity you can do wonders.
And second thing how can you keep a wedding memorable? Today, there’s so much of competition that goes on within those weddings, right from the dress. But the biggest challenge is the food, no matter how good it is, somebody always out-beats that. So, what we decided is we decided that we wanted people to remember our wedding. And the best way to keep it memorable was by not serving food and they would remember us forever. We served snacks and we chose a time, a perfect time, where you really can’t eat dinner and we served snacks. Even today, no matter which wedding we go, no matter how good the food is, they’ll always say, “Do you remember Benny’s wedding? They didn’t serve food”. What a good way to be remembered in today’s world where people forget!
Moving on with simplicity, I’ve been to 257 countries as of now. Now, I just want to tell you there is such simplicity even in the area of travel. Before me, the man who held the world record was Kashi Samaddar who travelled to 218 countries in six years, ten months, and seven days. He spent about Rs. 5 crores. This was in 2008. I broke the world record on 22nd of November 2010 and I did it with Rs. 92 lakh. What a big difference- from that to this. That’s about 37,000 rupees per country is what it cost me for everything.
I’ll tell you there is so much of beauty in simplicity, and there is so much of excellence that can be displayed in simplicity. I want to challenge you today that as Christians, as you pursue excellence, it’s very important to keep in mind that with simplicity you can do wonders.
Well, recently I built Chai 3:16 – a wonderful café. But how can we keep excellence in this café? First thing we thought is, let’s deal with the toilets. So, we decided to have guitar and piano shaped toilets. And it was such a big hit that many times young boys and girls come and say, “Sir, the toilet is so good I don’t feel like using it. Do you have normal toilets out there?”. When was the last time you thought about a toilet in that manner? So, there is so much of beauty in simplicity.
The challenge was also to glorify the name of Jesus. Once you reach higher, the opportunities to talk about Jesus become lesser. But I will tell you, that’s when you have to be intentional in sharing about Jesus. When you are a nobody, when you are just coming up, it’s easy. You have more time for prayer also. But once you really come up to a place, you have to be intentional.
When CNN stopped me from wearing a hat that said, ‘Thank you, Jesus’, because it’s a religious statement and they are a secular channel and cannot accept it. What you do you? You go back to Jesus and ask Him for a brilliant idea in simplicity. And then I designed a simple cap written with the words, ‘Thank you Jesus, I’m an Indian’. And so, I want to challenge you today as you sit here as brilliant people and future leaders of India. Where is excellence? Where is the role of excellence in your life today? It’s not all about money and education only. You need wisdom from God, and you need creativity.I want to challenge you today that if we want to make a difference in our country, if you want to be a person of integrity, start with being on time.- Dr. Benny Prasad Click To Tweet
Moving on with integrity, you know, traveling the world was easy if I had to do it with power and money, but with integrity it was very difficult.
My passport is the proof of how I travelled to every country in the world; 257 countries. There are 15 books inside. My favourite part about carrying this passport is that at the immigration desk, when I put it across the desk and when the officers look at this passport, one of the first things they’ll say is, “Sir please don’t come as a family. Come one person at a time’. When I tell them that I am just one person, they are amazed and shocked at how I could do that. But I’ll tell you, today’s a very special day for me because on this day, 18th of February 2002, I just realized this that I set off to travel to every single country in the world by 2010. That was the mandate that Jesus gave me. And I did that with four principles. Firstly, I will never ask for money. Secondly, I will never borrow money. Thirdly, I will never take a loan from the bank, and fourthly I will never trust a credit card. These were my four financial principles.
It’s interesting that I am a 10th standard failure, and I was not even able to board a flight. In fact, when I went to board the flight, they told me to get off because I did not have that ECNR clearance. You need to have a 10th standard pass certificate for that, and I didn’t have that, so I was taken off. And the next day I went to board the plane again and this time I took off. I had hopes of fulfilling the great mission in front of me after investing everything I had. And when I landed in Moscow on the 19th of February 2002, they asked me for a bribe of US$50, that’s two thousand rupees. I’m a Christian and an Indian and I wouldn’t give a bribe. And because I refused to give a bribe, they detained me in the airport for 30 hours. Now, I prayed and prayed, and I obeyed God. I stood up for truth and I stood up for righteousness. I prayed and I prayed, and I prayed, you know what nothing happened. And after 30 hours, they humiliated me and treated me like a criminal and they decided to deport me back to India. What a glorious opening ceremony I had!
Consider others better than yourself. Put others first, that’s what Jesus did.
And some of you are sitting here, you might struggle for standing up for truth in your own workplaces. And probably you might not have the story of a great victorious start because you stood up for truth. There’s a verse in the Bible where 1 Peter 3:14 says: But even if you should suffer for what is right you are blessed. Do not fear their threats, do not be frightened. Have you ever heard someone say that you’re blessed because you’re suffering for good?
I will tell you we are blessed when we have taken a stand for righteousness. I considered myself blessed only with the help of God, that in spite of being deported at my first journey, I could still hold on to the truth and Jesus helped me to move on.
I want to challenge you today. Where is the level of integrity in your life? Traveling is easy, I’ll tell you. I’ve done it, I know how easy it is but to do it with integrity is very difficult. If you don’t have integrity, please don’t ever take up this challenge of traveling. It is not possible, if you don’t have the fear of God.
Moving on, Nestor was the immigration police at the border of Nigeria and Benin Republic. This was at 8 o’clock in the night- quite a dangerous time. He said, “Sorry, you have to give me a dollar for stamping your passport”. I said, “Why?”. He said, “Because everybody is giving”. I said, “I am NOT everybody. You give me a receipt; I will give you that”. He thought it was something strange. I said, “I will not give”.
About one hour went on, and he was not willing to stamp my passport. Everybody left and I’m all alone there. And I started to tell him, “Sir I’m a Christian, I cannot give you this one dollar because it is unaccounted money, and it is a risk factor”. But I took a stand, I don’t know what happened, the other police officer came up. He said, “My leg is paining. Can you please pray for me”. I prayed, and as I was praying this, the heart of Mr. Nestor changed. He took my passport stamped it and, in the end, he said, “Please pray for me whenever you remember”. And I will tell you we have to take a stand no matter how tough it gets in this world.
After traveling for 13 years, being a musician, where people call me an entertainer and a motivational speaker, I concluded with this; that inspiration without conviction is mere entertainment.
For $1, so much of life was at risk because the next day I was speaking at the Parliament in Benin Republic. And the Vice President came up to me and said, “Benny you should never do this in Africa, because these borders are so dangerous that they can lock you up and they can even torture you to death because there is no accountability”. I will tell you I am willing to lose my life for the sake of righteousness but not my character. And it is very important that as we live in this country, corruption exists because of you and me. Because if we all stop giving that bribery, or whatever terms it has, there is no room for corruption actually.
Moving on now, there was a man called Luxon. I was invited to speak at United Nations, at the World Meteorological Organization. I was speaking about corruption, taking a stand for truth, and righteousness as a Christian. The man who introduced me happened to be Mr. Luxon. Now, Luxon is from Malawi and he’s an ordinary accountant. We started to sit down and have a chat and it was incredible. An ordinary accountant, who used to sign checks for United Nations. And one day in 2003 in the month of July, as he was clearing things, he suddenly found one cheque. And it was endorsed to another company which was unidentified and unauthorised. And within half an hour, he found 25 checks in the value of about US$400,000. He was a strong Christian, but an ordinary man in the company. He went to his Sudanese boss, Mr. Hussein, and told him, “Sir, this is something wrong”. Hussein said, “This happens from the top order till the end. Don’t worry, you’re a good man. Keep it to yourself and let’s move on”. He said, “Sir, this is not right”. Hussein told Mr. Luxon, “You know I was the one who brought you from a village in Malawi. I have the power to send you back to your village. I have the power to kill you. I have the power to do anything. So, don’t ever stand in front of me and don’t block me”. But Luxon took his stand as a Christian. Within no time, they found that in three years Mr. Hussein had already misappropriated about USD 3 million. And you know, top seven leaders of the WMO were sacked and an ordinary accountant, Luxon, became the chief financial officer of WMO. I want to tell you; this is what happens with integrity in God’s time. But you have to really take a stand no matter how tough it gets.
I was deported from my first country. Are you willing to take that stand today? Or are you just going to just go by saying, “This is India. This is Incredible India and the land of opportunities and let’s move on”. No! You and I are called to make a difference, that’s what this talk show is so that you will take a stand for the Gospel.You have to really take a stand no matter how tough it gets.- Dr. Benny Prasad Click To Tweet
Another one was commitment. Commitment was something that was very important for me. This was in United Arab Emirates, where I met Mr. Abdullah Saleh, the governor of the IFC.
I was invited to speak on the National Day celebration. It was an incredible opportunity, but I told the organizers, “Let me quickly check my calendar”. When I checked, I was invited to speak on the same day at a kindergarten school for five minutes. So, I called the principal, and I told him, “Sir is there a way you can change?” He said, “I’m sorry Benny, this has been fixed in our calendar”. Now, this is a place where I had to spend five minutes, I don’t know whether the kids will understand me or not, and they don’t pay me anything. So, I could easily skip over this, and the principal also told me, “Benny, this is a small event for us but that is a huge event, you are paid well. You should go”. Then I said, “Sir, it is not about whether I am paid or not. It is about commitment”. So, I called up United Arab Emirates, the organizers, and I told them, “I’m sorry, I cannot come. If you are able to postpone the event for the next day, I am willing to come. But as of today, I cannot come because I’ve committed myself”. They said, “Who is that who is paying you more than us? And what better event is that?”. I told them, “It’s a kindergarten school. I’ll be playing for five minutes, and I’m not being paid”. They said, “What makes you take this stand?”. I said,” It’s commitment”. Commitment with everything! You have committed somebody to meet at five o’clock, keep your commitment. So, it’s very important. How many times you have taken things for granted? Say sorry! Don’t inform them at five o’clock saying you will be half an hour late when you’re supposed to meet at 5:00. These are simple things that can make a big difference in our Nation. People talk about Indian Stretchable Time, but it’s not with me. In Europe, they call me a Swiss-German because Swiss and Germans are known for keeping time. And I’ll tell you, I’ve challenged them. And I can’t think of being late in the last 20 years and I’m an Indian.
I want to challenge you today that if we want to make a difference in our country, if you want to be a person of integrity, start with being on time. There’s another scripture in the Bible, Matthew10:39, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, whoever loses their life for the sake of Jesus Christ will find it”.There is so much of beauty in simplicity, and there is so much of excellence that can be displayed in simplicity.- Dr. Benny Prasad Click To Tweet
I’ll tell you, the day I cannot mention the name of Jesus, I have failed. No matter how fancy the opportunity is, the occasion is and the places, the day I cannot glorify the name of Jesus, I have failed completely, no matter how I would inspire people. So, I would make sure that I would surely give the due credit to Jesus Christ who saved me from sin and from death at 16. I was at the point of committing suicide, had nothing to live for and here He gives me this beautiful opportunity to travel to every country. How can I keep Him a secret? How can I hide Him? How can I say that it is not cool to be called as Christian? That’s why, I proudly wear my hat- Thank you Jesus, I’m an Indian!
I want to challenge you today. How much are you ‘Jesus’ to others in your workplace?
At sixteen, I was at the point of committing suicide and had no life left. I had no value, no purpose, and no character. Doctors gave me six months to live and that’s when I asked Jesus to come into my heart because I heard His voice. And the officials he told me, “Benny, it could have been some other voice. What makes you think that it is Jesus’ voice? It could have been your own imagination”. I told him, “My own imagination told me to kill myself, but it has to be the voice of Jesus. He’ll tell you in the end, when I was leaving, one of the spies was crying and he said, “There was something special about you”. I said, “What is that?” He said, “The housekeeping staff came up to us and they told us”. I said, “What did I do?” They said, “Your room has been always clean”. And the housekeeping staff would say, “Why is this guy’s room clean? They know that we are going to clean the room, we are going to fold everything. Why does he do our job?” And then I told him, “Because the Bible says- consider others better than yourself”. By folding that, it will help the housekeeping staff work a little lesser. Simple thing! And he started to cry because they believe in the Juche idea which means equality. Ours is not equality, ours is beyond equality; to consider others better than yourself. Put others first, that’s what Jesus did.
Where is the role of excellence in your life today? It’s not all about money and education only. You need wisdom from God, and you need creativity.
I’ll tell you my friends we must stand up for truth. Don’t hide what Jesus has done in your life. Be excellent! Have integrity! With that, you have the power to speak the truth to people. And after traveling for 13 years, being a musician, where people call me an entertainer and a motivational speaker, I concluded with this; that inspiration without conviction is mere entertainment. Inspiration without conviction is mere entertainment. Sometimes, a message can be so nice, you can talk so much about the message, but there is no conviction inside, it’s a waste! It only made you feel good! I’ll tell you, things like this should convict you, should drive you so much that you should come out of your comfort zones and do something better and best for Jesus Christ. And that’s my life today, that’s what I do- from nothing Jesus picked me up, He gave me this opportunity to go and share the Word.
Next week, I’ve been invited to speak at the Economic Forum in Shri Ram College of Commerce as well as in Rajdhani College. I’m amazed, I’m a 10 standard failure and I was thrown out of school, again I told you because their syllabus was not up to my mark. And now they called me to come and speak and inspire them, especially SRCC. See I am amazed that a college like this exists, because the cut-off percentage there is 97.8%. I was one of those who was struggling to get 33% and when I went and spoke last time I told them, “When you do well in studies you end up coming to SRCC”. With pride, they’re nodded their head. But I told them, “When you don’t do well in studies, you end up becoming a speaker at SRCC”.