What Did Joel Osteen’s Church Do During Hurricane Harvey?

In late August 2017, Osteen was criticized on social media after it was said that his church turned away people seeking shelter from Hurricane Harvey, a devastating storm that  𝑘𝑖𝑙𝑙𝑒𝑑 89 people, caused $126.3 billion in damage, and displaced more than 30,000 people.

Pastor Joel Osteen speaks out after Harvey: ‘The city didn’t ask us to become a shelter.

After a Facebook post by the church saying that it was “inaccessible due to severe flooding,” the church soon after announced plans to act as a collection site for Houston-area shelters. “We know the need is great. That much is clear,” a church statement said. “We do not yet know all the ways we can help.” It later announced that it was receiving people and distributing supplies to the needy.

Joel Osteen, a Houston preacher, denied that his megachurch turned away Hurricane Harvey refugees and addressed a barrage of criticism by claiming that municipal officials didn’t ask him to utilize it as a shelter at first.

“(The city) didn’t need us as shelter then,” Osteen said. “If we needed to be a shelter, we certainly would’ve been a shelter right when they first asked.

“Once they filled up, they never dreamed that we’d have this many displaced people, (and) they asked us to become a shelter. I think this notion that somehow we would turn people away or we weren’t here for the city is about as false as can be.”

“The fact is that I don’t know that we would’ve opened any sooner because again there were safety issues,” Osteen revealed. “I think some somehow social media can be very powerful and they can create this false narrative.

“It’s easy to say, ‘There’s that big building, and they’re not using it,’ but we don’t have volunteers and we don’t have staff that could get here.’ If they would’ve asked us to be a shelter early on, we would’ve prepared for it all.”

“The main thing is social media doesn’t run our lives,” he said. “We run our ministry, we do what we’re called to do. Everybody that’s making a difference is going to have critics.

“Imagine if we had hosted a large number of evacuees and the facility had flooded. That would not have been a nice tale.”

“We hosted 3,000 people in Lakewood after Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, so we’re all about assisting people,” Osteen stated. “We’ll be here supporting these individuals in five years, so we’re happy with who we are and what we’re doing.”

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