Many people are finding themselves in need of help after Hurricane Harvey pummeled the city of Houston and many surrounding areas late on Friday night. Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, the worst to hit U.S. soil in 12 years.
Normally, those affected by natural disasters such as Harvey look to spiritual communities and pastors for support. However, one megachurch pastor, Joel Osteen is facing criticism for his response to Harvey. Osteen, a “prosperity gospel” minister, preaches at a 16,800-seat arena at Lakewood Church near downtown Houston. Osteen tweeted this amidst the storm:
People were quick to respond to his offer of prayers, but not much else in the way of support.
On Sunday, Osteen’s church closed its doors saying the building was inaccessible due to flooding. Lakewood Church posted a list of resources and shelters around the city. Osteen and his wife live in a $10.5 million dollar mansion in the River Oaks neighborhood. Many residents and their dogs have been rescued from his neighborhood.
Apparently, some churches and their leaders did more than pray. Christianity Today writes:
‘Houston Christians did more than pray from the dry refuge of their homes or evacuation spots. Clergymen were featured in a couple viral news reports from Sunday: a preacher who checked submerged cars for trapped drivers, and a priest who tried to paddle his way to Mass at Houston’s Catholic Charismatic Center.’
Several churches also served as temporary shelters for those needing somewhere to go, which is more than it seems Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church was able to accomplish. Many people had urged him to open the doors despite nearby flooding.
One person tweeted this:
Many people are also wondering how they can help flood victims in Houston. ABC News has published a list of organizations who are accepting donations and/or helping those affected by Harvey. Organizations include The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD), The American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, South Texas Blood and Tissue Center, Austin Pets Alive!, and Catholic Charities USA.
Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church, it’s time for you to step up now to help with the relief!
Featured image by Cindy Ord/Getty Images.