Pastor Joel Osteen said on Wednesday that his Lakewood Church “has always been open” after the house of worship was targeted with claims that it locked out Houstonians in need of reprieve during the fallout from Hurricane Harvey.
“The notion that we were going to turn people away is not true,” Osteen told CBN News’ Erik Rosales on Wednesday, adding that a few people had come to the church and were sent to a nearby shelter. “The first couple of days the church was inaccessible or not safe.”
Osteen said that the building “has flooded before” and referenced a 2001 storm that shut the structure down.
As Faithwire previously reported, Tropical Storm Allison devastated the region back in 2001. At the time, Lakewood’s current location was the Compaq Center sports arena, with the building taking on a great deal of water during the rainfall.
When it comes to Hurricane Harvey’s impact on the church, Lakewood officials had previously released photos showing that the bottom level of the building had taken on water over the weekend.
Osteen said the initial decision not to serve as a shelter was at least, in part, based on safety concerns.
“This building has flooded before … so we had to be very cautious there,” Osteen said, noting that, after local shelters filled up, Lakewood opened its doors to the public.
In the end, Osteen said that Lakewood will spend years helping people in Houston rebuild their lives, and pointed back to past and current efforts aimed at assisting people who have been deeply impacted by natural disasters.
“We’re still helping people from Katrina,” he said.
Read more about the recent controversy surrounding Lakewood here.