Joel Osteen Fails to Address Hurricane Harvey Scandal

Pastor Joel Osteen said that God knew Houston could 'handle' the devastating Hurricane Harvey during his Sunday service
  • Pastor Joel Osteen addressed his Texas congregation on Sunday, telling them to 'quit being upset by something you can handle'
  • 'God knew that Houston could handle the hurricane,' he told the thousands gathered at Lakewood Church
  • Osteen refused to address the scandal that has surrounded him after he failed to promptly open the doors of the Houston megachurch to shelter flood victims
  • He was eventually shamed into opening the church after blistering criticism on social media
  • The popular televangelist has refused to apologize however, saying 'if people were in my shoes, they would have done the same thing'
  • Osteen says he is now focused on soliciting donations to help victims both spiritually and financially

Pastor Joel Osteen said that God knew Houston could 'handle' the devastating Hurricane Harvey during his Sunday service - as he once again refused to apologize for refusing to open his multi-million church to flood victims. 

'Quit being upset by something you can handle', the popular televangelist told his Texas congregation, just days after the hurricane ripped through the state, destroying homes and livelihoods.

'God never promised we would reach our destination without a battle and without disappointments and without things we don't understand,' he added.   

Sunday's service was back to business for Osteen who refused to address the scandal that has surrounded him and Lakewood Church after he failed to immediately open the doors of the Houston megachurch to shelter victims. The pastor was eventually shamed into opening the church after blistering criticism on social media.

Instead, Osteen told his thousands of parishioners the hurricane had been part of a divine plan, and that 'God knew that Houston could handle the hurricane.'

'Scripture says you will go through the flood but you will not drown,' he added.   

He told his congregation to 'quit being upset by something you can handle', during the Sunday service 

He told his congregation to 'quit being upset by something you can handle', during the Sunday service

A parishioner of the Lakewood Church led by Pastor Joel Osteen prays during a service at the church as the city starts the process of rebuilding after severe flooding during Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey

A parishioner of the Lakewood Church led by Pastor Joel Osteen prays during a service at the church as the city starts the process of rebuilding after severe flooding during Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey

Parishioners of the Lakewood Church led by Pastor Joel Osteen pray together during the service

Parishioners of the Lakewood Church led by Pastor Joel Osteen pray together during the service

'You may be in a difficulty right now but that has an expiration date. Instead of being discouraged, remind yourself this trouble has an expiration.'

He compared the struggle of the Texas flood victims to a parable of Jesus and his disciples on a fishing boat during a storm.

Jesus knew a storm was coming but didn't tell his disciples as he knew they wouldn't want to join him on the boat.

'Why didn't he tell them to avoid it if he knew there was going to be a major hurricane? Because he knew avoiding that storm would keep them from their destiny,' the pastor told the crowd, and millions watching at home.'

He explained that his parishioners shouldn't be 'upset or panicked because there is a few hurricanes along the journey.'

'God is in control of the universe and what he has spoken over your life will come to pass.'

Osteen even shared a story about how he discovered the Houston Rockets were going to move out the Compact Center - now home to the Lakewood Church - complaining about his struggle to raise the $100million to renovate and move in.

Meanwhile, there appeared to be no mention of any donations towards the flood victims, either from the church or by Osteen whose personal wealth is estimated at anywhere between $40million and $65million.

Other millionaires have made generous donations to aid the effort, such as Sandra Bullock who donated $1 million, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation donated another $1 million, and the Kardashians have given $500,000.

Pastor Osteen drew criticism after initially not opening the doors of his church to victims of Hurricane Harvey (parishioners pray at the Sunday service) 

Pastor Osteen drew criticism after initially not opening the doors of his church to victims of Hurricane Harvey (parishioners pray at the Sunday service) 

Osteen refused to address the scandal that has surrounded him and Lakewood Church during the past week after he failed to immediately open the doors of the Houston megachurch to shelter victims (parishioners pray at the Sunday service)

Osteen refused to address the scandal that has surrounded him and Lakewood Church during the past week after he failed to immediately open the doors of the Houston megachurch to shelter victims (parishioners pray at the Sunday service)

The Houston pastor had three special worship services on Sunday morning after President Trump pronounced today a National Day of Prayer for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

On Wednesday, the church held their regular midweek service, where collection plates were passed around among an audience filled with Texans who had just lost their homes and belongings in the devastating floods, Death and Taxes reported.

The service opened with mention of the 'several hundred' evacuees in the audience and Osteen's wife, Lisa Osteen Comes, who regularly joins him on stage, preached about all the good things coming the victims' way, if they stay at the church and pray.

Osteen previously said he wasn't concerned about his critics on social media who have taken turns blasting him for initially saying the church was flooded even though it was largely dry.

'We're concerned with these people [victims now at the church] and how they move forward,' he told ET. 

'And there were safety issues that people don't understand. But, I really believe that if people were in my shoes, they would have done the same thing. 

'When the building is clear, when it's safe, we can start taking people. That's what we have done for 60 years. We love helping people and that's what our message is all about.' 

Osteen said the public failed to grasp the safety issues that he says prevented him from initially offering the church as a shelter.

'You know, it depends on what day that is,' he told ET.

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a service

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a service

Osteen drew criticism after initially not opening the doors of his church to victims of Hurricane Harvey but refused to comment on that on Sunday

Osteen drew criticism after initially not opening the doors of his church to victims of Hurricane Harvey but refused to comment on that on Sunday

'I think another thing that people don't understand - it could flood. That street could flood and in 14 hours it can be down.

'So, you can't go by that. I have video of it flooded on either Saturday night or Sunday night, I can't remember. But, you know, it can go down in 14, 15 hours.'

The televangelist says that if he had the chance to do it all over again, he would have acted differently.

'Knowing what I know now, I would have put staff in here before the storm hit, put beds, do everything we could to be prepared,' he says. 

'When it catches us by surprise, even when the cities overflow and, you know, nobody dreams that shelters will overflow. 

'Hindsight, it's 20/20, but we got to move forward and do what we've done for the last 60 years and take care of these people, help them rebuild their lives, bring hope to their spirits and let them know that they can come out of this stronger than before.'

When asked about the reaction on social media, Osteen says he invokes a higher power.

A member of the congregation at the Lakewood Church led by Pastor Joel Osteen prays during a service at the church 

A member of the congregation at the Lakewood Church led by Pastor Joel Osteen prays during a service at the church 

Osteen said that 'God never promised we would reach our destination without a battle and without disappointments and without things we don't understand'  during the service (pictured)

Osteen said that 'God never promised we would reach our destination without a battle and without disappointments and without things we don't understand'  during the service (pictured)

Parishioners clap and raise their hands to the sky during the service led by Pastor Joel Osteen

Parishioners clap and raise their hands to the sky during the service led by Pastor Joel Osteen

'I don't spend any energy on the Twitter universe or social media,' he said. 

'And I don't mean that disrespectfully. I just don't put any energy into it. I mean, life is too short to put energy into negative emotion and I feel at peace because we did the right thing.'

'Hey, my reputation is in God's hands and he can take care of that,' he said. 

'We're going to continue to help people.'

Osteen says he is now focused on soliciting donations to help victims both spiritually and financially.

Tyler Perry told TMZ that he is planning to give $250,000 to Osteen's church.

It is part of a total pledge of $1million that he is setting aside for the benefit of flood victims. 

Debris lined a street on Sunday that was flooded in the Hunterwoods Village neighborhood of Houston

Debris lined a street on Sunday that was flooded in the Hunterwoods Village neighborhood of Houston

A man walks past debris from homes that were flooded by rains from Hurricane Harvey in the Hunterwoods Village neighborhood of Houston

A man walks past debris from homes that were flooded by rains from Hurricane Harvey in the Hunterwoods Village neighborhood of Houston

Volunteers Travis Adair, right, and Matt Vinks, left, throw a kitchen sink damaged by floodwaters onto a pile of debris in Spring, Texas

Volunteers Travis Adair, right, and Matt Vinks, left, throw a kitchen sink damaged by floodwaters onto a pile of debris in Spring, Texas

Volunteer Max Stenger, left, helps flood victim Gloria Bancker go through her flooded clothes in Spring, Texas on Sunday

Volunteer Max Stenger, left, helps flood victim Gloria Bancker go through her flooded clothes in Spring, Texas on Sunday

Edward Woods takes a break from cleaning up his mother's home, which was destroyed by floodwaters in Spring, Texas

Edward Woods takes a break from cleaning up his mother's home, which was destroyed by floodwaters in Spring, Texas

The people of West Houston were urged to put their safety first and to flee the area before the water release will continue to keep floods high in about 4,000 homes

The people of West Houston were urged to put their safety first and to flee the area before the water release will continue to keep floods high in about 4,000 homes

'It's a long-term effort,' he said.

'So, we'll put together teams that will go out and help fix houses, repair the sheet rock. 

'We're working with the relief organizations and this is their specialty. 

'But one thing about Lakewood, we have thousands of volunteers, people that want to help. That's what you see today.' 

The interview with ET is the latest media appearance by Osteen who is fighting back amidst a public relations backlash.

In an interview with the Today show Wednesday morning, Osteen said that his church has worked with the city in the past, but that the city didn't reach out to use them as a shelter before Hurricane Harvey hit. 

Harvey made landfall on Friday, and left thousands displaced. But Lakewood Church wasn't opened up until Tuesday, because of safety concerns, Osteen said.   

Tropical Storm Harvey evacuees rest inside the Lakewood Church after the church opened their doors to the victims on Tuesday. Pastor and popular televangelist Joel Osteen uploaded this photo on his Twitter account on Thursday

Tropical Storm Harvey evacuees rest inside the Lakewood Church after the church opened their doors to the victims on Tuesday. Pastor and popular televangelist Joel Osteen uploaded this photo on his Twitter account on Thursday

Volunteers organize donated emergency supplies at the temporary shelter at the Lakewood Church on Tuesday

Volunteers line up to sign up to help with the shelter for victims of the flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey at a shelter opened at the Lakewood Church on Tuesday

Volunteers line up to sign up to help with the shelter for victims of the flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey at a shelter opened at the Lakewood Church on Tuesday

A Harvey flood victim on a wheelchair is brought into the Lakewood Church in this image uploaded by Osteen to his Twitter account 

A Harvey flood victim on a wheelchair is brought into the Lakewood Church in this image uploaded by Osteen to his Twitter account

A long line of volunteers forms to check into the Lakewood Church to help evacuees receive the items they need to spend time inside the church turned into shelter

A long line of volunteers forms to check into the Lakewood Church to help evacuees receive the items they need to spend time inside the church turned into shelter

'If people were here, they'd realize that there were safety issues,' Osteen said. 

'This building had flooded before, and so we were just being precautious. But the main thing is that the city didn't ask us to become a shelter then.' 

He added: 'I mean think of the story if we would have housed a whole bunch of evacuees and the building flooded. That wouldn't have been a good story.'

During the storm, the multi-millionaire televangelist says that his own niece became stranded just across the street and that the building was just a foot away from becoming flooded itself. 

He says he might have done some things differently if he had a second chance, but that he doesn't think they would have opened any sooner. 

Because the city hadn't asked them to become a shelter, Osteen says they weren't prepared to open the building as an official shelter because they didn't have the volunteers or staff in place. 

Osteen drew flak on social media when it was revealed that his church wasn't opened sooner.

He wanted to set the record straight, saying that in fact they did welcome some stranded victims a few days after landfall and that they never turned anyone away. They just weren't set up as an official shelter.      

Pastor Joel Osteen (seen on NBC's TODAY show on Wednesday) has no intention of apologizing in the face of criticism over his decision not to immediately open the doors of his Houston megachurch to flood victims

Pastor Joel Osteen (seen on NBC's TODAY show on Wednesday) has no intention of apologizing in the face of criticism over his decision not to immediately open the doors of his Houston megachurch to flood victims

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By Mathias Dillion 09/04/2017 04:23:00
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