After much criticism on social media, Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church has opened its 16,800-seat Houston mega church as a shelter to those affected by Tropical Storm Harvey.
Controversy began on Sunday evening when a post circulated on Twitter after Joel Osteen began tweeting Bible verses and words of encouragement rather than opening up the church as a shelter.
God is still on the throne. He brought you through in the past; He’ll bring you through again.— Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen) August 28, 2017
Jesus promises us peace that passes understanding. That’s peace when it doesn’t make sense.— Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen) August 28, 2017
While some churchgoers and Houston residents responded with pics of the church being flooded, others continued to argue that the church was in fact not flooded and safe to house residents.
Houston's @indivisible_usa is acquainted with @JoelOsteen's Lakewood Church. They took these pics about an hour ago w/ commentary. pic.twitter.com/YTWrD9UG1z— Charles Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) August 28, 2017
The church's representative issued a statement with the Houston Chronicle.
"It's not our unwillingness, it's just practicality. It's been a safety issue for us," Iloff said. "Lakewood Church has a heart for this city."
Lakewood Church officially opened its doors at noon on Tuesday. "Victoria and I care deeply about our fellow Houstonians. Lakewood's doors are open and we are receiving anyone who needs shelter," Osteen tweeted Tuesday at 11:12 a.m.
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
Lakewood is receiving people who need shelter. We are also receiving supplies such as baby food, baby formula and other shelter needs.— Lakewood Church (@lakewoodch) August 29, 2017
Lakewood Church apparently bought countless air mattresses and are prepping to open their doors. Took a while but good news.#JoelOsteen pic.twitter.com/MYXf1HqAbF— Charles Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) August 29, 2017
Thank you Houston. Your response has been overwhelming. We cannot thank enough the hundreds upon hundreds of volunteers who came out today! pic.twitter.com/hI1jl5Sry8— Lakewood Church (@lakewoodch) August 29, 2017
You can find out more about Lakewood Church's Hurricane Harvey relief program here.
We're glad to see that the megachurch has opened its doors as a shelter in Houston. Was it too late? Does it matter? Weigh in the comments.
Mike "Orie" Mosley is the managing editor for and a cultural advocate from St. Louis. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Arts, Entertainment & Media Management from Columbia College Chicago and a Masters in Higher Education Administration from LSU. He is also the founder of . In his spare time, he's probably listening to hip hop & neo soul music, hitting up brunch or caught up in deep conversations about Black music. You can follow him on Twitter or on Instagram