Utahns of several faiths unite to hear Pastor Joel Osteen's message of hope
WEST VALLEY CITY — God has a specific purpose waiting for each person, and each day is a chance to shake off whatever negative experiences might hinder them from reaching their destiny.
That was the message celebrity pastor Joel Osteen told a crowd Friday night. Osteen travels the world sharing a universal Christian message of hope through Christlike living, which touches worshipers from a variety of faiths.
The energetic crowd in the heart of Mormon country crossed economic, cultural and religious lines as worshipers united to fill much of the Maverik Center.
"None of us are going to go out the same way we came in," Osteen said, offering a promise he often gives the large crowds who flock to see him.
He shared his famous smile and inspiring words as he urged Utahns to let go of past mistakes — whether they be drugs, crimes or failed family relationships — and move forward with faith in God.
Osteen, who doesn't delve into doctrinal specifics, has been a unifying force for the family of 18-year-old Ari Hone and her 17-year-old brother, David. The two teenagers attend The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, while their father is Baptist and their mother is Muslim.
"When we were little kids, we would always watch Joel Osteen with our mom on TV, and we like his message," Ari Hone said. "He really focuses on faith in God. His messages bring people of different faiths together."
The Hone siblings came from Lehi for Osteen's "Night of Hope," which was packed with the pastor's spirited sermons, high-energy worship music, clapping and cheering.
For David Hone, who said he especially enjoyed the powerful music, the focus of Friday's event was Jesus Christ.
"Christ is the cornerstone. Without him, I feel no religion will exist. You have to have faith," he said.
Osteen's wife, Victoria, was emotional as she echoed her husband's message, tender piano music punctuating her words as she shared the biblical account of King David and encouraged the crowd to cast away their cares and find hope in God.
Stacey Archuleta, a longtime fan of Osteen, said she connects most with the messages that inspire her to live a good life and treat others kindly, regardless of whether she attends a specific church.
"Never once does God say one denomination is better than another," Archuleta said. "We're all here to worship together, to worship the one God."
Archuleta and her sister Tobi Smith have been visiting several different churches together. For Smith, Osteen's event prepared her to share with her family in a moment when she worries their faith is failing.
"Coming to things like this gives me a little more strength to bring it home to my children and to live my life better," she said.
Leaders from several Utah congregations took the stage with Osteen to offer their prayers and promises that local communities will be blessed, united and find hope during a musical number, declaring "greater things are still to be done in this city."
The charismatic Osteen leads the 45,000 members of the Lakewood Church in Houston and gives a weekly broadcast that airs worldwide and reaches more than 10 million U.S. viewers.
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