Joel Osteen Praying for UK

Joel and Victoria Osteen of Lakewood Church, the largest church in the US, kicked off on their UK tour last night at the Odyssey Arena Belfast in Northern Ireland.

Pastor Osteen's trip coincides with recent terrorist attacks on Glasgow Airport and foiled bomb plots in London.

Following the attacks, he said: "We recognise that we are in the United Kingdom during uncertain times.

"Because of this, we want to use this time to pray for the people of the United Kingdom and to offer a message of hope and encouragement."

The pastors' tour will take them to London's Wembley Arena on Friday 6 July and the NEC Arena in Birmingham on Saturday 7 July.

'A Night of Hope' features praise, worship and prayer during which attendees will hear an inspirational message from the Osteens along with the electrifying music of Dove Award-winning Cindy Cruse Ratcliff and the Lakewood band and ensemble.

Lakewood Church of Houston, Texas, is the largest and fastest growing church in the US with nearly 40,000 attendees.

Lakewood Church's weekly services are also broadcast on television in the US and around the world in over 100 nations.

According to Nielsen Media Research, Joel Osteen is the most watched minister in the US and reaches 95 per cent of all US television households.

In 2005, Lakewood began holding worship services in its new 16,000-seat facility in Houston. The facility, formerly known as the Compaq Centre and home to the Houston Rockets, was acquired by Lakewood Church in January of 2004 and took 18 months to renovate at a cost of $95m.

Lakewood Church is now one of the largest regularly attended worship centres in the world.

Joel Osteen has been named the "Most Influential Christian in America of 2006" by the readers of The Church Report magazine.

In addition, Osteen's first book, Your Best Life Now, went to Number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list and has sold over four million copies since its release in October 2004. The book is now available in 19 languages.