He’s setting the record straight! Televangelist Joel Osteen is speaking out after he was accused of shutting down his Houston-based megachurch, Lakewood Church, instead of opening its doors to those displaced by the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey.
In a statement to ABC News, the 54-year-old said that his 16,000-person church will be able to accommodate those displaced “once shelters reach capacity.” He said, “We have never closed our doors. We will continue to be a distribution center for those in need. Lakewood will be a value to the community in the aftermath of this storm in helping our fellow citizens rebuild their lives.”
However, he has since taken to Twitter to confirm that his church is welcoming those without a roof over their heads following the horrific storm — regardless of the status of shelters. “Victoria and I care deeply about our fellow Houstonians. Lakewood’s doors are open and we are receiving anyone who needs shelter,” he tweeted. “God gives us grace for every challenge. Stay strong and know that God has you in the palm of His hand!”
Victoria and I care deeply about our fellow Houstonians. Lakewood’s doors are open and we are receiving anyone who needs shelter.— Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen) August 29, 2017
God gives us grace for every challenge. Stay strong and know that God has you in the palm of His hand!— Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen) August 29, 2017
The controversy began last week, on Saturday, when the church released a statement via Facebook saying that the massive complex was “inaccessible due to severe flooding.” The post had many people skeptical, and concerns were raised when critics posted pictures of the surrounding area, proving that the church was not affected by “severe flooding.” Needless to say, people had a lot of thoughts about it on Twitter.
“Shame on you Joel, help out your fellow man, open the church to the needy,” one critic tweeted. Another wrote, “I was so disappointed to hear you wouldn’t let people take shelter in the huge church!”
Hurricane Harvey is the strongest hurricane to hit the state of Texas since 1961. So far, there have been 16 confirmed deaths as the result of the tropical cyclone. Additionally, by some estimations, more than 2,000 people in the Houston area have had to been rescued in the aftermath, and it’s believed that another 30,000 are expected to leave their homes for public shelters in the wake of the storm.