Pastor joel Osteen, who presides over the megachurch, Lakewood Church, has been heavily criticized for not responding to the flood victims in Houston as some thought he should.
Twitter came to life, condemning Pastor Osteen for not helping during the community’s time of need. In a statement made on social media, Osteen made it clear that the church was prepared to provide support to flood victims when city and county shelters were at capacity.
“We weren’t asked,” Osteen said, adding he believed that at the time the current shelters were capable of handling the work.
Tuesday morning, Joel Osteen took to Twitter himself, writing, “the church is receiving people who need shelter and also helping evacuees with supplies such as baby food, formula, and other shelter needs.” He claimed that he was always prepared to help, but waiting until there was a need for additional shelters.
On Tuesday, Osteen further tweeted, “Victoria and I care deeply about our fellow Houstonians. Lakewood’s doors are open and we are receiving anyone who needs shelter.”
The day before, several hundred people arrived at Lakewood in buses seeking shelter and it was a tricky situation for the megachurch. On Monday, the Lakewood Church was “inaccessible due to severe flooding” because of the hurricane. Osteen posted images on social media showing the copious amounts of standing water in the hallways and parking lot of the church.
Founded n the 1950s by Osteen’s father, Lakewood Church is housed in the former home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets. There is a flood wall already in place after the church dealt with major flooding in a previous storm.
Church officials were concerned about flooding in the building and the safety concerns it posed. In 2001, the bottom level of the building flooded over eight feet during Tropical Storm Alison, and Lakewood Church was concerned about what might happen if people were sheltered in the building.
A spokesperson stated, “When it floods, it floods in a torrent. It floods quickly. We installed flood gates, but you know, you have to have a lot of faith in those if you are going to put a lot of people into the building.”
Worried that the building was not safe for those seeking shelter from the storm, Osteen and his staff made the decision to ensure the building was safe first before offering aid to those in the community.
The church is committed to serving people in the area, but also making sure that everyone is safe at the same time. Regarding the backlash they faced on Twitter, Lakewood’s spokesperson added “The Twitter critics don’t determine who we are or what we do…we are going to act as we should act. They have nothing to do with our mission.”
The church further stated that the second floor of the church is safe with no standing water, and that can house a few hundred people temporarily during this emergency. The entire area surrounding the church was flooded as of Monday, and the few people that came to the church for help were brought to the George Brown Convention Center where more organized help was readily available.
With thousands of people still stranded in floods throughout the Houston area, this is an emergency that is far from over. Houston officials continue to receive many calls throughout the day from people still trapped in their homes.
As of September 1, 2017, there have been 40 reported deaths from Hurricane Harvey. The city of Houston is coming back to life, with limited bus services starting back up and the number of people in shelters starting to decline. While this is going to take months of cleanup and rebuilding, Houston has power restored to most of the region and many of the downtown businesses have been able to reopen.
This is going to be a long effort, but thankfully Osteen is bringing his own resources to the fight.
~ 1776 Christian