As Pastor Joel Osteen and his church face mounting criticism for not immediately hosting Houstonians fleeing their homes in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, representatives are speaking out to provide additional background and context. Don Iloff, a spokesperson for Lakewood Church, told Faithwire late on Monday night that the house of worship has been in touch with city and county officials in recent days and has been planning outreach efforts. But considering that the

church’s building — inside what was once the Compaq Center sports arena — is prone to flooding, Iloff said that Lakewood chose to instead focus its energies on the ways in which the church could serve as a food and resource distribution center, among other outreach efforts. And considering that Houston officials had set up shelters throughout the city — including a massive location at the George R. Brown Convention Center just five miles from Lakewood — Iloff said that the church had planned to host people in the event that those locations were full or at capacity. READ MORE