Pastor Joel Osteen ministers in Hawaii for first time

Published: Feb. 5, 2012 at 7:37 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – It wasn't a rock concert or a boxing match, but he's popular enough to sell out the Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu.

They came to hear Pastor Joel Osteen - who heads up America's largest church in Houston. He's also seen by millions around the world who watch his televised sermons.

The 48 year old Osteen has been to Hawaii before on vacation, but this is the first time he's here to minister. He carries a message of positivity wherever he goes.

"Be happy with what God made you to be," the pastor tells the Blaisdell crowd. "You may not be all you should be, but you're not what you used to be! You're growing. You're changing!"

And thousands of those faithful here in Honolulu and around the world are listening. Fire and brimstone, he's not. His brand of Christianity is based on the goodness of God, not sin and struggle.

"I think, for years, people have been pushed down by religion, and I don't say that disrespectfully, but they've been shown a God that you can't measure up to," explains Osteen. "And so, my goal is to make God good and let them know, hey, I tell them all the time, God's smiling down on you right now. You're his child. He's got a great plan for your life. You can overcome mistakes, and to me, that draws people TO God."

"You are victors, not victims!" he says as the crowd cheers. Osteen inspires and is inspired by large crowds who fill arenas and stadiums to hear him.

"I tell people that faith is contagious. When you get around thousands of other believers that, just something happens on the inside. I think even on a smaller sense, that who you hang around with is very important, as well - who you connect with. Because I tell people, what you're going to be like five years from now - just see who you're hanging around with."

Pastor Osteen heads up the non-denominational, diverse Lakewood Church in downtown Houston – a renovated arena where the Rockets basketball team used to play. 40,000 congregants attend regularly.

"We're always dealing with health issues or relationship issues or financial issues. So, I try to always speak on something that people can take away that day," says the pastor about his audiences.

But Osteen has his critics. He angered some when he replied in an interview, that Scripture says being gay is a sin. But he went on to explain that he doesn't preach that and would never judge anyone. His position is: he's for everyone. Other critics call him a "cotton candy", feel good pastor or a prosperity preacher.

"I don't go up there and talk about money. I talk about: God wants you to be blessed and have good relationships and be healthy. And I think the opposite is: some people want you to, think that you're supposed to be poor and broke and suffer to show that you're a Christian, and that's just not the way I read the Scripture. I think that God wants us to excel and be the best at what we can do and have happy families. You know, prosperity, to me, is more than money. It's health and good relationships … peace of mind."

Osteen isn't bothered by naysayers … and he's certainly got enough fans to keep him fueled.

Fan and faithful follower Katherine Higa says, "He really has the heart of Jesus. Someone so sincere, humble, kind, just really wanting to spread goodness and love to everyone."

His message is for the masses - IF you believe.