Lakewood Church opening as shelter for citizens needing Harvey relief, will other megachurches follow?

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HOUSTON — After many cries for help and backlash on social media, Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church opened its doors Tuesday as a shelter to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

This is news that many were waiting to hear. The big question on social media since Harvey turned most of the city into a river was “where are the megachurch pastors?”

Social media was set afire and local radio stations were being flooded by callers sharing the same sentiment.

A church is a considered a haven for those seeking spiritual and emotional guidance, and safety. With the biggest natural disaster to recently strike the Houston area, many faithful tithe-paying parishioners were left to wonder where their leaders were.

The George R. Brown Convention Center was almost at maximum capacity, flooded with 9,000 people as of Tuesday morning, and the Red Cross, multiple schools and multi-service centers across the area  opened their doors, with limited resources… yet, the beacons of light with the most square footage and, possibly, available resources remained silent.

Sad images from the GRBCC showed babies lying on the floor, many with very little to eat, and an overall plea was made to help bring diapers, formula and bottles. Lakewood announced via Twitter that they were accepting those much-needed items.

GRBCC volunteers made a plea for materials to help the disabled and ill, needing more wheelchairs, professional medical staff (nurses, etc.) in addition to mental health professionals to help those with sensitive medical needs who arrived at the convention center.

Before opening its doors as a shelter, Lakewood posted a link on social media to collect funds for the Samaritans Purse, which would be used to help Hurricane victims. That angered many, saying instead of collecting donations, the church should have been providing shelter relief. Lakewood also continued streaming services online.



In addition to Lakewood, other megachurches in Houston are Second Baptist with Pastor Ed Young, The Woodlands Church with Pastor Kerry Shook, New Light Church with Bishop I.V. Hilliard, Fountains of Praise with Pastor Remus Wright, Windsor Village United Methodist Church with Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, First Baptist Church with Pastor Greg Matte, Church Without Walls with Pastor Ralph West, Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church with Rev. Marcus Crosby, Community of Faith with Bishop James Dixon II and Champion Forest Church with Pastor David Fleming.

During a time when help is needed the most, and faith and hope are all many — who’ve already lost everything —  are left to hold on to, it is time for all of the megachurches to open their doors and let the people in, some say.

See Tweets showing people criticizing the church, and many defending the church for not opening the doors sooner.