HOUSTON – Lakewood Church has opened its doors Tuesday for flood victims after many people on Monday blasted Joel Osteen on social media for not publicly offering shelter immediately to victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Look at all those poor people standing outside Lakewood church trying to get in. Oh wait.. there isn't anyone— Jeffery Michael (@_JefferyMichael) August 29, 2017
Osteen supporters came to the church’s defense.
FYI: The reason Lakewood Church is not open is because it too is flooded folks. Don't judge without knowing the facts.— Adrian (@adrian_luna7) August 28, 2017
By the way: just saw this.— Baénerys Targaryen (@T_dot_Lee_PhD) August 28, 2017
Apparently, this is the inside of Lakewood church. So. Yeah.
Shutup, thanks. pic.twitter.com/k0dNPhQV4y
The towering megachurch in southwest Houston has taken in some flood victims, a spokesperson said in a statement, but said that the church has not advertised itself as a shelter because it is “not set up to handle evacuees.”
The spokesperson said the church had also suffered flooding in its lower level.
Pictures sent from church representatives to KPRC Channel 2 showed water covering the church entrance outside the building, the parking lot and what appeared to be the basement.
The spokesperson said that Lakewood would start a collection drive beginning Tuesday to benefit the thousands of flood victims.
The church will begin collecting infant and adult diapers, baby formula and baby food at noon, they posted on Twitter.
The church released the following statement in response to the criticism:
Dear Lakewood Church family,
We want to let you know that our hearts are with each of you and your families during this difficult time. We are praying for you and we are praying for our city, and for all of those affected by the devastating flooding and rains caused by Hurricane Harvey. We love you and we love this city. And we want to help.
Over the last couple of days, as the enormity of this storm was being realized, we have been working to organize relief efforts for the Houston area with our friend Franklin Graham and the disaster relief organization that he oversees, Samaritan's Purse. Samaritan's Purse has been, since it's inception, organized to respond to situations just like Hurricane Harvey, and we are grateful to be able to partner with them to provide assistance to the Houston area.
We know the need is great. That much is clear. We do not yet know all the ways we can help. However if you would like to register to volunteer with us, please do so by clicking here. Or, if you would like to donate to our relief efforts, please do so here. We are working just as fast as we can on this and will update you with more information as it becomes available.
In the meantime, know that our prayers for strength and comfort for each of you will continue, as well as our prayers for God's help as we navigate the upcoming days and months together.
We love you. And we are praying. Together, we will make it through this difficult time.
Osteen tweeted Tuesday that he and his wife care about Houston and that Lakewood's doors are now open and receiving anyone who needs shelter.
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
Osteen has expressed his support of the victims across his social media platforms and has asked the community to come together and help victims.
We will get through this storm together. Are you able to volunteer? Help us help others. Click here: https://t.co/XxIbYde0L6— Lakewood Church (@lakewoodchurch) August 28, 2017
Coordinating with the city, Lakewood is a collection site for distributing supplies to the Houston area shelters. https://t.co/XxIbYde0L6— Lakewood Church (@lakewoodchurch) August 29, 2017