Osteen brings 'Hope' to Chicago with Saturday show

 
 
Updated 8/5/2011 11:12 AM
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  • Pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen speak to a crowd at Yankee Stadium during a recent "Night of Hope" event. The popular pastors will be at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago Saturday night.

    Pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen speak to a crowd at Yankee Stadium during a recent "Night of Hope" event. The popular pastors will be at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago Saturday night. Photo courtesy of Joel Osteen Ministries

  • TV Pastor Joel Osteen preaches to a crowd at Yankee Stadium during a recent "Night of Hope" event. The tour stops in Chicago Saturday night.

    TV Pastor Joel Osteen preaches to a crowd at Yankee Stadium during a recent "Night of Hope" event. The tour stops in Chicago Saturday night. Photo courtesy of Joel Osteen Ministries

A near sellout crowd of 40,000 will fill U.S. Cellular Field Saturday night when popular TV preacher Joel Osteen brings his national "A Night of Hope" tour back to Chicago.

While he's been criticized for preaching "cotton candy gospel," Osteen's hope-filled sermons have made his Texas-based Lakewood Church into the largest church in the United States.

Nearly 40,000 people attend Sunday services there each week, and he reaches a worldwide television audience of 200 million in 100 countries (in Chicago, he airs at 9 a.m. Sundays on WCIU).

Several members of Osteen's family will take the stage during the 2-hour sermon- and music-filled event, including his mother, Dodie; his wife and co-paster, Victoria; and their two children.

"The whole atmosphere of the evening is so inspiring," Victoria Osteen said. "When (people) leave, they feel fantastic. They feel empowered. They feel inspired."

"A Night of Hope" has become an annual event that's brought the Osteens to Chicago many times. They also pop in for book signings (both are best-selling authors), or in Joel's case, to throw out the first pitch at a Chicago White Sox game earlier this year.

Victoria Osteen said people come back to see them year after year because the atmostphere lifts their spirits.

"They take something away from it that's going to help make them a better person. Or to help them get through this hard time. They feel strengthened and they can make it," she said. "God speaks to you individually when you need to hear it the most."

The Chicago show will be streamed live at joelosteen.com.