Evangelical leader Joel Osteen packs Pepsi Center

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DENVER -- Pepsi Center was packed Friday night, but not with the usual fans of professional sports or a classic rock band. Instead, they came for church. Specifically, evangelical superstar Joel Osteen.

More than 11,000 people gathered inside Pepsi for what was called A Night of Hope.

Fans say Osteen’s message goes beyond religion, inspiring them to live better lives.

“I never thought I’d be, oh my God, this close. With this many people and be on the bottom floor, this close to him,” says Peter Chaney, who drove with his wife from Grand Junction to see Osteen.

Osteen’s message inspires a worldwide audience.

“We all go through tough times, tough breaks…maybe unfair situations. But you’ve got to know God is in control and if you keep moving forward, you’ll come into a good season,” says Osteen. “My message is God is good and he’s on our side.”

“Without this man, he wouldn’t be here. I give him credit for turning him around,” says Kathy Kenny of Commerce City, about her son Rick whom, she worries, might take his own life.

Rick became wheelchair-bound two years ago when he collapsed at home. He says he suffered brain damage and became very depressed.

“His message is just so positive,” says Rick of Osteen. “He doesn’t dwell on the negative. And a person in my shoes needs all the positive he can get.”

 “We come to big events like this because people’s defenses are down,” Osteen told us. “They are not at a church. They say, ‘I’m not a church person. But I’ve seen the Nuggets play basketball here, so I’ll come out.”

Osteen, a best-selling author and millionaire televangelist has sold out stadiums across the nation, including: U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Dodger’s Stadium, and Yankee Stadium.

Osteen was the first-ever non-baseball event at the new Yankees Stadium in 2009.

More than 40,000 people weekly pack into his Houston church, the former Compaq Center, each week, and his broadcasts are televised to tens of millions of people in more than 100 nations.

“I found one of Osteen’s books about a month ago,” says Colleen McKenzie of Denver, of “It’s Your Time.”  “Everything in there, chapter for chapter, it’s like it was written for me. It’s just really blessed me over the past month.”

Roughly three dozen people who don’t approve of Osteen’s message protested outside Pepsi Center, handing out fake million dollar bills with Osteen’s face on them.

They says his message that if you are Christian, you will be healthy and prosperous, is wrong. They say it is not in the Bible. They say the opposite is true: that people will suffer and come to Christ so their best life will be the next life.

For more information on their point-of-view visit livingwaters.com.