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PHOTOS: Joel Osteen's church opens as a shelter as volunteers sort donations

Joel Osteen's huge Houston church is open to those needing shelter and volunteers are delivering and sorting donations for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey's devastating impact.

"Thank you Houston! We appreciate the volunteers who came out today to help so many people displaced by Hurricane Harvey," the church posted with a video clip of people driving to the church entrance to deliver items.

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A previous message read, "Lakewood’s doors are open to anyone needing shelter. We are looking for volunteers & collecting shelter supplies."

Houston responded in a powerful way, as evidenced by photos of people delivering and sorting items. One photo posted by the church shows residents, including a man with his dog, who have come to seek refuge.

NEW: Joel Osteen discusses storm response on "Good Morning America"

Lakewood spokesperson Don Iloff, Osteen's brother-in-law, told The Christian Post on Monday that several church leaders had to be rescued from their own homes. Osteen and his family are ok - " They are on pretty high ground" - but had been without power, Iloff said then. He also said he wasn't aware of anyone who had come to the church seeking shelter, saying, "They would have to swim to get there."

Iloff also told The Christian Post the church is partnering with Samaritan's Purse on disaster relief, and that the facility, a former NBA arena, likely will host a fundraiser soon.

Osteen has come in for both criticism and support as Houston remains in Harvey's grip, with many demanding to know why his church wasn't operating as a storm shelter. Photos posted from the scene indicate flooding at the church site, although other photos and video clips suggest the church wasn't damaged.

In a statement released on Osteen’s behalf, a church spokesman said Lakewood would be prepared to accommodate those fleeing the floods, should other shelter facilities exceed capacity. Osteen posted a link to a message seeking monetary donations and encouraging people to register to volunteer.

During the June interview with the AJC (when no one could imagine Houston would be underwater in two months) Osteen struck a chord of unity: “We’re never going to all agree on everything, but I think we can still treat each other with respect.”


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