Joel Osteen Ministries is reaching beyond Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, to the nation with the traveling Night of Hope tour. When they land in our nation's capital April 26th, they want to do more than share the Gospel. They are putting hands and feet to the message with Generation Hope Project. Beliefnet spoke with Lakewood's Young Adult Pastor Nick Nilson about this special movement and its potential for lasting impact.
Beliefnet: How did this idea come about?
Pastor Nick Nilson: Joel Osteen Ministries is founded and planted in Lakewood Church, and being the young adult pastor, we have a passion within this generation to serve. We do a lot of serving locally in Houston and have seen enormous results. We believe that, if the Gospel is in the city, then the city should be better. So, with that in mind, we thought why not take what we’re doing locally and try to do it with the tours? Pastor Joel is anointed to bring this message of hope that’s incredible, and we have an opportunity to come alongside that message and express it tangibly.
Beliefnet: What were some of the needs that you saw specifically in D.C. that you wanted to address while you’re there?
Pastor Nick: A few key team members have been there already to scout the land and meet people. We started to call the city officials, asking them what were some major needs that they were aware of, and then we began to connect with some pastors in the D.C. and surrounding areas, asking them, “You been there working and been faithful for years. How can we unite with what you are already doing to help the city?” We compiled them and came up with about 20 projects throughout the city from cleaning up neighborhood centers, to playgrounds, to elementary schools, to working with a few ministries to help them establish safe homes or a facilities for special needs children, to helping food banks, to helping women’s crisis centers. So, we’re really doing a plethora of projects that are very diverse in nature, but the bottom line is we feel like God called us to bring hope tangibly and leave the city better.
Beliefnet: There are people who have this perception that youth are sitting around on Twitter all day and they’re not getting involved in things. But, you’re finding that the young people really want to step up and serve.
Pastor Nick: Yes, the youth and young adults want to show people who Jesus is. They’re wanting to express what is happening on the inside outwardly and it’s the gospel. We can’t look past the needs that are around us without trying to do something. I think that’s the heart of the project. We can’t fix everything, but we can unite with the local ministries and churches there in DC, and we can do something. We’re trying to point everybody to that big event on Saturday night at the national stadium. It will be very inspiring, encouraging, and grace-filled as it should be. They’ll see it first and then they’ll hear it. We’ll have the opportunity to give away tickets to people while we’re serving them, if they want. We’re not going to shove anything down their throat, but definitely invite them. And if they have questions, we’re there to answer them and help them, and hopefully, connect them to the Night of Hope if they’re interested.
Beliefnet: It’s obvious what the benefit is going to be for the city of D.C. and for the people who are coming out to the Night of Hope. But, what about the people who are participating in Generation Hope? What are you hoping that they’re going to get out of this?
Pastor Nick: I really believe that when you serve and when you live your life to meet the needs of your neighbor, that’s really when you find purpose and fulfillment. When you get your eyes off of your own problems and you look around and see that there’s other people that are less fortunate, it tends to encourage you in the process. It breathes life into you. It shows what good things God has done in your world. It’s going to be such a ministry to come alongside of 500 other young adults that are focused on this one mission of serving and seeing what we can do together as a generation in our nation’s capital.