Addressing a legion of critics, Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen, who had announced on social media over the weekend that his megachurch was “inaccessible,” told Inside Edition on Wednesday that the church itself nearly flooded during Hurricane Harvey and said he was focused on helping the community rather than preoccupied with social media controversy.
“It was a crisis here,” Osteen told Inside Edition. “This building for the first couple days was very close to flooding. The waters were one foot from going over the floodgates, so it has since receded, but the whole building was inaccessible for at least a day or two.” He said his own niece was stranded across the street from the church on an overpass.
Skeptics in Houston journeyed to the church to see if it truly was inaccessible because of flood waters and posted videos, while many others posted negative comments on social media. Osteen told Inside Edition that he ignored the negativity. He said his staff informed him of the firestorm raging on social media.
“We stay focused on what we are called to do,” Osteen said. “Maybe there are things that could have been done better, and we really just try to run our race. Life is too short to focus on all of that negative energy.”
Lakewood Church did open its doors Tuesday. Buses rolled in with evacuees from as far as 80 miles away, and Houstonians came in droves to donate supplies.
“This whole building is full with blankets and items from the generous people of Houston,” Osteen told Inside Edition.