Osteens’ ‘Night of Hope’ draws thousands at Arco
Instead, people from all walks of life were gathered for “A Night of Hope” with Joel and Victoria Osteen, a touring event featuring worship music, testimony by church leaders and a sermon from the charismatic megapastor Osteen.
Named by Barbara Walters in 2006 as one of the year’s “Ten Most Fascinating People,” Osteen, 47, is a bestselling author and pastor of the enormous Lakewood Church in Houston. As the largest congregation in the U.S., it averages more than 43,500 in attendance per week and is housed in the previous home of the Houston Rockets professional basketball team, the former Compaq Center.
The Osteens' “Night of Hope” event makes a stop in a different U.S. city roughly once a month, and the tour has expanded to include other countries, including Canada, England and Israel. The production features musical numbers by Steve Crawford and the Lakewood Band and Ensemble, and testimony by several Lakewood worship leaders. Osteen’s mother Dodie spoke about God’s role in helping her beat cancer. Dove Award-winning singer-songwriter and senior worship leader at Lakewood Cindy Cruse-Ratliff shared a story detailing God's role in helping her adopt children after being unable to conceive more after her first was born.
Pastors from the Sacramento metro area, like Pastor Rick Cole and Dr. Samuel Gordon of Capital Christian Center, were invited on stage to briefly address the audience, as was Mayor Kevin Johnson, who asked those in attendance to pray for elected officials.
The Osteens also stumped for Save the Children, showing a video of impoverished children in a third-world country and explaining how $28 dollars a month would help provide clean water and schooling. One of Osteen’s teachings is that “giving to the poor is giving to the Lord.”
Osteen held the attention of the crowd with a well-rehearsed and entertaining sermon. It’s focus was living with confidence, and using the confidence to reach your full potential. A master orator, Osteen impressed the importance of good posture, direct eye contact and a firm handshake, and drawing confidence from the knowledge that you are part of a royal bloodline, as descendants of Jesus. This year will be a year of change, Osteen said, to get out of debt, to start your own business.
Amusing anecdotes were shared by the skilled speaker, and he illustrated the behind-the-scenes working of God in his life, as he shared the story of meeting his future wife Victoria in a watch shop (“She sold me a watch, and she has been taking my money ever since!”).
Scripture from the Bible was referenced periodically, but ultimately the inspirational event played out less like a church sermon and more like a self-improvement seminar. Regardless of individual religious affiliation, there was something everyone could take away from the themes of confidence, spirituality and positivity.
"Believe in yourself," Osteen urged the packed arena. "Quit focusing on what you’re not, and what you can become.”
Photos by Steven Chea