Pastor Joel Osteen was criticized for not opening his megachurch amid the devastation from Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas. The faithful Christian remained positive as he responded to the backlash he received on social media. During his appearance on Today, he said he would have opened the doors of his megachurch to the residents fleeing from Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters. He just wished the city would have asked him sooner.
He wore a big smile on his face during his interview on Wednesday. Osteen explained why Lakewood Church (which holds more than 16,000 people) wasn’t open to house evacuees from the hurricane. This decision brought criticism against Osteen on social media, according to People.
“[The city] didn’t need us as a shelter then,” Osteen explained. “We coordinate with them all the time. If we needed to be a shelter, we certainly would’ve been a shelter right when they first asked. We worked very closely with the city. Four miles down the road, the city established its biggest shelter with rooms for thousands. With beds, kitchen supplies – everything they need. Security.”
Osteen said he was finally asked to open the doors of his megachurch. He happily obliged. He said that’s what the purpose of Lakewood Church is – to help others in need.
“Once they filled up, never dreaming we’d have this many displaced people, they asked us to become a shelter. And we said, ‘Hey, we’d love to be a shelter. That’s what Lakewood is all about.'”
“Our church doors have always been open. In fact, we took people right when the storm started to recede, which was just a day or two after the big storm hit,” he said.
On Saturday, Osteen received criticism on social media when he prayed for those affected by the storm. Many asked him why Lakewood Church was not being offered as a sanctuary. On Tuesday, Osteen announced on his official Twitter and Facebook accounts that Lakewood Church’s doors were open to the victims. Hundreds of volunteers were there to gather donations and supplies. On Wednesday, 300 people took up shelter at the megachurch, according to Today.
Osteen didn’t want the church to open its doors sooner. He claims there were safety issues involved with the building being flooded before. He also said that they didn’t have volunteers and staff soon enough to help. Tyler Perry announced that he would gladly help Osteen’s church. He gave $250,000 of his $1 million donation to help the Houston-based megachurch.
In a video posted to Facebook on Friday, Sept. 1, Perry explained his reason for donating to Osteen’s church. He claims that the Osteens are wonderful people and they would never shut their doors to anyone. Perry reiterated Joel’s safety concerns. He spoke to the couple on the phone and he said their decision “made perfect sense to me.” Not everyone agreed with Perry’s decision and that Osteen’s church shouldn’t receive any funds. Perry is by Osteen’s side as everyone else questions his motives.
[Featured Image by Cindy Ord/Getty Images]