Popular Pastor Wins Over Bronx with Message of Hope
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 12- Joel and Victoria Osteen hosted their second “America’s Night of Hope” at Yankee Stadium. The iconic venue in the Bronx was filled to capacity to see and hear the very popular televangelist and his wife, their son and daughter and Joel’s mother share uplifting and encouraging words as well as listen to upbeat and modern musical selections from guest vocalists and musicians.
The rally at the historic stadium was only the centerpiece of a concerted effort to bring help to people in need in New York City. Hundreds of volunteers, many from Houston where their Lakewood Church is located, joined the Osteens in New York to provide assistance to those with specific needs.
Last Monday, Osteen explained the mission of the Generation Hope Project, “We don’t just come in word. Young people [who will be coming to provide assistance] have a heart to help. They will be here for most of the week, with a concentration of efforts for several days. We know we can’t do everything. It will be symbolic that we leave something with the community.”
The couple told of this year’s theme of assistance, which will be mentoring of young people. They want those not blessed to have family members that encourage and uplift them as children to be given hope for their lives in the future.
The pastor said, “We all have a responsibility to the next generation.”
His wife focused in words of how much those who help another gain by that effort, “The people who are serving are being blessed.”
Saturday’s rally was the sixth annual major event held at a huge athletic facility. It is neither accidental nor coincidental that the Osteens returned to the site of their first event of this magnitude that took place on April 25, 2009 and was the first non-baseball event in the new Yankee Stadium.
Osteen explained, “New Yorkers are great people. They respond to hope. We didn’t know if they would accept a message from the South.”
The large crowd that attended the pioneer event signified the acceptance they received from residents of “The Big Apple.” Looking back on that day led Osteen to recently proclaim, “Victoria and I love the people of New York. We’re excited to be at Yankee Stadium again, and we believe people will be uplifted and filled with an expectation that their best days are yet to come.”
The Osteens, unlike many representatives of religions, do not have a sectarian outlook or appeal. They have an outlook and manner that transcends barriers of age, politics, socioeconomic class and race. Their universal appeal has much to do with their positive message, “Our message is about empowering and up lifting. We have much in common. It is about a relationship with God. It’s not formal or religious. People come who may not attend church regularly.”
In addition to the Saturday rally at Yankee Stadium, the Osteens were at the stadium on Friday afternoon to meet with clergy from all sections of the nation. At that meeting, Ray Negron, a Yankee executive, has been invited to testify regarding how the late owner of the Yankees, George M. Steinbrenner, changed his life. The extremely articulate Negron will be able to impact his listeners with an example the Osteens are trying to impart in all people.