Following the controversy that came with his handling of his “megachurch” in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Joel Osteen was back at Lakewood Church earlier today, presiding over his first Sunday service since the storm. But he was also met with more controversy, following his perceived refusal to apologize for not opening the church to Harvey victims, and how some felt he was dancing around the issues that had sullied his reputation in recent days.
According to a report from TMZ, Joel Osteen’s first Lakewood Church service after Hurricane Harvey saw the pastor suggesting that the deadly storm was part of God’s plan, as he told his congregation that God knew the city of Houston would be able to handle Harvey.
“Quit being upset by something you can handle,” Osteen reportedly said.
“God is in control of the universe and what he has spoken over your life will come to pass.”
The controversy surrounding Lakewood Church erupted last Sunday, when the church posted an announcement on Facebook saying that it is “inaccessible due to severe flooding,” and redirected flooding victims to several nearby shelters. According to an earlier report from the Inquisitr, both Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church were besieged by negative comments from Houston residents, many of whom accused them of denying shelter to people who were displaced by the floods. Some had even posted photos and videos around Lakewood Church, in an effort to prove that the megachurch was indeed accessible, despite the massive flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey.
Joel Osteen Holds First Sunday Church Service Since Houston Flooding Backlash https://t.co/zmbcfS701w— TMZ (@TMZ) September 3, 2017
Following the backlash, Lakewood Church issued a statement through spokesman Donald Iloff, who is also Joel Osteen’s father-in-law. According to Iloff, Lakewood never closed its doors, and was willing to “house people once shelters reach capacity.”
Ultimately, Joel Osteen opened Lakewood Church’s doors to Hurricane Harvey victims, but that only came after scores of negative remarks, social media comments, and memes directed against the pastor and his megachurch.
As noted by the Daily Mail, Osteen told the thousands in attendance at today’s service that while the people of Houston are going through difficulties at the moment, those difficulties “have an expiration date.” He compared the city’s situation to the parable where Jesus Christ invited his disciples aboard a fishing boat, but didn’t tell them about a storm he knew was coming.
“Why didn’t he tell them to avoid it if he knew there was going to be a major hurricane? Because he knew avoiding that storm would keep them from their destiny.”
Curiously, the Daily Mail report added that Joel Osteen did not confirm if Lakewood Church made donations to flood victims, nor did he mention any donations he may have made out of his own pocket. Osteen’s personal net worth is estimated to range between $40 million to $65 million.
What do you think of what Joel Osteen said in his first Lakewood Church service following Hurricane Harvey? Do you think he said all that he needed to say at today’s service, or do you believe he was skirting the controversies surrounding the megachurch’s refusal to immediately open its doors to evacuees?
[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]