DOWNTOWN MIAMI (CBS4) – Thirteen thousand people filled the American Airlines Arena Friday night to see televangelist Joel Osteen. The pastor of the country’s biggest cathedral, located in Houston, Texas, brought what’s called “A Night of Hope” to Miami.
It’s a night of gospel rock, worship, testimony and motivational speeches. Osteen has done this nearly 100 other times around the country, including Yankee Stadium which had nearly 45 thousand attendees.
CBS 4’s Shannon Hori sat down with Osteen and his wife Victoria the night before the event. Osteen, who’s smile seems even bigger in person, told her “I feel blessed. In my baby pictures I was smiling, and I’ve been smiling ever since.”
Seven million people watch Osteen on television in 100 countries. He believes people respond to him because he makes the gospel practical.
“You know, I think part of it is that there is a lot trying to pull people down these days, from the economy, to just family situations, financial situations, and our message is about hope and about letting people know that God’s in control and just trying to make the gospel practical.”
“A Night of Hope” is a family affair. His wife Victoria is also in the show. So are their children, 15-year old Jonathan is in the band. And 12-year old Alexandra sings.
Victoria says “We let them know that it was not just Daddy and it was not just us but all of us together and working together we can make this work.”
The Osteens have made their marriage work for 24 years. Joel says that in heated discussions it helps to “let them cool for a while.”
Victoria says Joel is always smiling. “He is a very happy, very positive, easy going person. He watches what comes out of his mouth. which I think is one of the keys. He doesn’t say anything, anytime, or anything just because he’s thinking it.”
Joel Osteen is also an author. His book, “Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential,” was a New York Times bestseller. His latest book is “The Christmas Spirit,” it’s filled with stories from family and friends. He writes that growing up he and his family used to often sleep around the Christmas tree. It’s something that he has done with his children.
These days the Osteen’s also have another tradition, a scavenger hunt for presents. They give their children clues as to where they might find their gifts. Victoria says that this means it takes at least 30 minutes to open one gift.
Osteen didn’t grow up wanting to be a preacher, although his father was a pastor for the Lakewood church. He declined his father’s request to preach for a long time, preferring to stay behind the scenes. But then he delivered his first sermon when his father was sick.
“I knew I was supposed to do it so I just took that step of faith,” Osteen said. “I never dreamed the ministry would grow so these last 11 years. It’s just …we’ve just stared in amazement of what God’s done.”