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Joel Osteen Ministries visits Liberty City

caines | 4/25/2013, 5:30 a.m.

[gallery link="file" columns="2" orderby="title"] Pastor and volunteers bring messages of hope If you were to ride behind the Church of the Open Door or nearby Curleys House of Style, Inc. Hope Food Bank in Liberty City, you will notice a difference. The empty field that has been behind the church for years, on the corner of 7th Place and 60th Street, has now been landscaped into a vegetable garden, while Hope Food Bank has been painted, renovated and beautified. Last Thursday, hundreds of volunteers helped landscape the garden, renovate Curleys House and beautify eight other sites Miami. They volunteered with Joel Osteen Ministries for the Generation Hope Project which brings people together to make an impact in different communities through volunteering. Their goal was to leave a lasting impact and remind people that there is hope and change is possible. One volunteer, Refilwe Pitso, 42, had traveled from South Africa to help out. Osteen who pastors the largest congregation in the U.S. also visited the two Liberty City sites, where he and volunteers extended helping hands. He said it felt great to meet the people of the community and to help. The idea of making a garden was an idea of the youth ministry of The Church of the Open Door, according to R. Joaquin Willis, pastor of the church. As the youth maintains the garden, they will also study ten principles from the Bible, he said. According to Willis, it is gardening and classroom theory coming together. The idea is not to only learn from it, but take it out and do something else with it [such as] feeding people or a farmers market, Willis said. Since Joel Osteen Ministries wanted to assist with a sustainable project and The Church of The Open Door wanted to make a garden, they agreed to collaborate. It turned out what he wanted to do matched perfectly with what I was going to do, Willis said. Phyllis Carswell, a local landscaper, designed and came up with the concept for the garden. Being able to do something to show my creativity and then to have someone of this magnitude to honor it, has been a blessing, she said. While at the food bank and the garden Osteen stopped to pray, share kind words and take pictures with people of the community. Laverne Holiday, the assistant director and Lavern Elie-Scott, the executive director of Curleys House, were both grateful that they received some assistance from Joel Osteen Ministries, who gave 200 vouchers to Curleys House clients for the food give-away and has arranged for some of the food from the garden to be donated to Curleys House. Its been a blessing for the community to have someone of his stature to choose us to do this project, Holiday said. Its really overwhelming and a blessing because its going to change the lives of people in our neighborhood and our community. Joel Osteen Ministries continued to share their message of hope Saturday by drawing together nearly 37,000 people at the Marlins Park Stadium Saturday night for Americas Night of Hope. Overcoming various types of adversity including death in the family, feelings of guilt, and sickness were discussed by Osteen; his mother, Dodie; and wife, Victoria, throughout the night. At one point, more than 10 local pastors, joined Osteen on the stage to encourage audience members. Osteen, shed tears as he spoke about trusting God after the death of his father, who was his best friend. Life is not always fair, but God is fair. Every day of your life is written in Gods book. Be encouraged, God will bring you through it, Osteen said. What God started, He will finish. Even sickness and death cannot stop it. By Malika A. Wrightmwright@miamitimesonline.com