GREENVILLE, S.C. - For a second time, South Carolina megachurch Pastor John Gray defended his decision on social media to buy his wife a $200,000 Lamborghini for her 37th birthday, and their 8th year anniversary.
Early Saturday morning, Gray, who has Houston ties, started a live video on Instagram, in an emotional address to the public
Gray said he went to his church and wanted people to pray with him.
Gray said it was a difficult week, and that much of the criticism came from Christians.
He called his wife a jewel and a gem, and on Instagram, sang Happy Birthday to her.
Gray explained his decision to people watching.
“That was my choice. She didn’t know. It was a surprise. And it’s been in the works since February.
Most of the live video focused on his love and defense of her, before and during his prayer.
“Not everyone can handle who you choose to bless,” Gray said in his prayer, “Give me the strength to bless those who hate me.”
He talked about the church being fractured and called for unity.
In that prayer, he said he would not cower to people.
“The same grace they want, they will not extend,” Gray prayed.
He said he has a lot more on his heart and will preach it on Sunday.
Gray, who is listed as an associate pastor at Joel Osteen’s Houston Lakewood Church, said in a tearful Facebook Live video Friday, that the SUV was a gift to celebrate the couple’s eight-year wedding anniversary.
As of Friday, it appears the John Gray Ministries page has removed the Facebook Live post, which had thousands of views and shares.
People found out about the car after an Instagram video showed the anniversary celebration in which Gray led his wife to the bow-wrapped car and handed her the keys. He said the vehicle was a “Lamborghini Urus,” according to a USA Today report.
Video of the gift presentation, which Gray did not post, was taken down, USA Today reported.
In a Facebook Live video posted on the John Gray Ministries page Thursday, Gray said with tears in his eyes that “not a nickel, not a penny” of the money for the vehicle came from church funds.
Gray credited his TV show on the Oprah Winfrey Network, a book deal, savings and investments, and “other streams” of revenue for his ability to afford the vehicle. He said he would not disclose whether the vehicle was paid off.
“My wife has pushed for my dreams and my vision and she has toiled with a man who has been trying to find himself and that carries a weight,” he said. “I wanted to honor her for how she has walked with me. I’ve covered her. She’s covered me.”
“It wasn't a pastor that bought the car,” he continued. “It was a husband buying a car. Get that in your spirit. I’m a husband first. Don’t confuse what I do with who I am. What I do is I pastor God’s people. Who I am is a husband and a father and I’ll do anything to honor them and I won’t ask permission from anybody to do it. No man should.”
“I’m 45,” he said at one point in the Facebook Live video. “Am I’m supposed to live to 70 to live my best life? And my best life is seeing my wife happy. … I could die tonight and what a horrible indictment it would be on me that I didn't give the best that I could to my wife because I was worried about people, people who pay no bills in my house, people who didn't like me anyway. I’m going to serve God and as long as what I do is honorable, ethical and not illegal, nobody should worry about how I choose to bless my wife. … I’ve been working on (the car) for 10 months, hoping that God would show up and he did.”
Gray said he's been enamored with cars his entire life, and learned about the vehicle in a presentation at his hotel while preaching at the NBA All-Star Game in February. He said his wife's eyes "light up" when she saw the vehicle.
Houstonians have mixed feelings over Gray’s expression of love to his wife.
“My thoughts are clergy should take a vow of poverty similar to the teachings of the Bible,” Peter Coon said.
"I think it's fine, it's his money, it's his way of showing that he loves his wife and I mean he is not hurting anybody, so do whatever,” Hollie Higgins said.
KPRC2 has reached out to Lakewood Church for a response about this matter, but has not received a response as of this posting.
Copyright 2018 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.