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A video of a service held on Wednesday at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church shows collection plates passed around the congregation which included victims and evacuees of Hurricane Harvey among others. This comes after the pastor was essentially forced to open the doors of his megachurch when he faced massive criticism on social media for canceling service and locking the doors, refusing to shelter evacuees.
In the video of the service, the mention of “several hundred” evacuees in the audience is made, towards the beginning, by Lisa Osteen, Joel's sister and an associate pastor at the church, pointing out that the victims have "financial needs" and that everyone should pray for them.
She also preaches about how the future of these displaced people holds wonderful things. She asks those who have been affected to stand up and the others to hold hands with them and offer support and quite a few people in the hall can be seen raising their hands or standing up.
Towards the end of the video, after Lisa finishes, people can be seen moving through the aisles, carrying a pile of collection tins and passing them around, seemingly asking for donations, as the band starts playing.
Needless to say, the video was not missed by people on social media who wasted no time in expressing outrage that the pastor was asking for money from a community that has recently suffered losses of their belongings and homes in the flood.
Donations for the victims and the church started pouring in after the church's doors were reopened and many came forward to donate many items including clean clothes.
Filmmaker Tyler Perry also donated $1 million Friday to help the hurricane victims and made a surprising announcement that $250,000 of those funds would go to Osteen’s Lakewood church.
In a video posted on Facebook on Friday, Perry explained his decision to donate to Osteen's church saying: “I know there’s been some controversy about Joel Osteen and him not opening the doors of the church. Let me tell you something: Joel and Victoria are amazing people. There’s no way they would lock people out of the church and not let people in for shelter. There were some safety concerns. I spoke to them on the phone, and it all made perfect sense to me.”
Osteen became the senior pastor of the Houston-based Lakewood Church after his father and former head pastor died in 1991. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the televangelist has a net worth of $40 million. He is also listed as the fifth-richest pastor in the US. According to Newsmax Osteen no longer takes his $200,000 salary from Lakewood Church
His books "Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential” and "Become A Better You," were bestsellers with the latter having earned him $13 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Osteen’s book sales and tours reportedly generate about $55 million annually.
The pastor and his family live in a 17,000 square-foot mansion, worth an estimated $10.5 million in River Oaks, Texas, according to Newsmax.