Joel and Victoria Osteen

Joel and Victoria Osteen

Joel Osteen is under heavy criticism from the media for supposedly refusing to open his Houston megachurch to the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

But one pastor who has often disagreed with the well-known leader of Lakewood Church is defending Osteen, saying he is the victim of an unfair media attack.

Carl Gallups, the pastor of Hickory Hammock Baptist Church, a talk-show host, and the author of several books including “Be Thou Prepared: Equipping The Church For Persecution And Times of Trouble,” says Osteen is being smeared.

“The media was quick to condemn Joel Osteen when it was being reported that Osteen was ‘refusing’ to open his church to house homeless flood victims in Houston,” Gallups told WND. “From a purely sensational point of view, the initial story certainly invoked a sizable amount of ire among believers and non-believers alike. But, with a little passage of time, it seems the truth of the matter is now coming to light.”

Osteen was blasted earlier in the week because of claims Lakewood Church had refused to admit people seeking shelter. However, the pastor and author pushed back against what he called a “false narrative” and claimed Lakewood Church itself had been flooded.

When natural disasters unfold, will you and your family be ready? Will your church be available to minister to the community? And at a time of global uncertainty, do you know the exact steps required to protect those you care about? This is the one-stop guide about how Christians should prepare for disasters, persecution and all other “times of trouble.” More relevant than ever – pick up a copy of “Be Thou Prepared” by Carl Gallups, available now in the WND Superstore.

Osteen also denied the church ever closed its doors and said the church was prepared to house people “once shelters reach capacity.”

Gallups suggested many on social networking and in the media were simply looking for an excuse to bash Osteen.

“While I am not a fan of most of Osteen’s theology and ministry methodology, I also know what it is like to be a pastor and the victim of the fake media’s vitriol,” Gallups said. “I have been personally accused, in the headlines of mainstream international sources during the Trump for president campaign, of saying things I have never said. In this particular case of Osteen in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, it seems I will have to defend the folks of Lakewood Church. Updated articles and pictures now show that the Lakewood Church was severely flooded and initially unfit to house anyone.”

However, Osteen did admit the outcry “probably helped us to step up some things, to do it faster.” He also told CNN’s Chris Cuomo the church would do better in the future.

“[I]t was a big storm, maybe next time we would be a shelter before – get people housed before the storm,” he said.

Gallups said the entire experience shows why pastors should always be considering preparedness, a subject he explores in depth in his book “Be Thou Prepared” and something he has plenty of personal experience with.

“I have been the pastor of one church on the Gulf Coast of northwest Florida for almost 31 years,” he told WND. “We have been through many hurricanes together, the most recent devastating ones being Katrina, Ivan, and Dennis. The eye of Ivan and Dennis passed directly through the area of our ministry field. Our church was used as a major relief-staging area that provided housing and shelter for homeless, and a convergence center for people seeking food, water, clothing, and spiritual assistance as well. We are currently aligning ourselves with valid ministries that will do similar things in Houston and the surrounding areas.”

Gallups said his church’s preparedness efforts allowed them to help more than they would have been able to do if they had simply waited for the bad times to arrive.

“Once the people of our church family were sufficiently recovered from Ivan and Dennis, we sent out relief teams to scour the Gulf Coast to our west, seeking places where we could lend further aid to those outside our own community who had been ravaged by Katrina,” he remembered. “We settled in a small community on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and spent three years in that community assisting in a massive effort to rebuild churches, homes, and community infrastructure. In the midst of that endeavor, we were able to lead many to Jesus Christ as savior and Lord, as well as bringing a vast amount of humanitarian aid and relief.”

As the nation’s eyes turn toward Texas and Texans are suffering because of the storm, Gallups urges Christians to see preparedness as an outgrowth of their faith. And he claims such an effort is in the best and most long-lasting traditions of the church.

“These are the kinds of missions and ministry outreach endeavors that Christian churches have been famous for – dating all the way back to the days of the first century in the Roman Empire,” the pastor said. “It is a part of our witness, following the example of Jesus himself.

“If Joel Osteen and the leaders of Lakewood Church follow through on their most recently reported promises of opening their facilities and providing continuing relief effort in the months and years to come, they could truly make a huge impact for the kingdom work. I pray they are able to do so.”

When natural disasters unfold, will you and your family be ready? Will your church be available to minister to the community? And at a time of global uncertainty, do you know the exact steps required to protect those you care about? This is the one-stop guide about how Christians should prepare for disasters, persecution and all other “times of trouble.” More relevant than ever – pick up a copy of “Be Thou Prepared” by Carl Gallups, available now in the WND Superstore.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.