Joel Osteen is the pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas where thousands of victims need shelter and other things because of Hurricane Harvey. The televangelist canceled Sunday services, but he did not open the doors of the church to victims in his own city until Tuesday afternoon following a lot of criticisms.

Osteen was highly criticized for not taking in some of those who desperately needed help. Instead, the church posted on social media on Monday that it was "inaccessible due to severe flooding." A list of shelters was given along with the National Guard rescue hotline.

Some people doubted the claim that the church was flooded after pictures were posted on social media.

The pastor tweeted a message requesting donations for his church to help, but people found it strange that the doors to the church that seats 16,800 in downtown Houston were closed.

Statement from spokesman

Donald Iloff, a spokesman for Lakewood Church who is also Osteen's father-in-law, said that it made no sense to open the church doors when the city and county had first priority to offer shelter to the thousands of hurricane victims at the nearby George R. Brown Convention Center.

He added that the convention center was better supplied to help the victims because it had doctors, medicine and places for the victims to sleep.

He insisted that the church did not have those things to accommodate the victims. Besides, he said the shelters were doing a good job and were better equipped.

Pastor speaks out

Osteen was criticized so much that he was prompted to respond to the criticisms. He said he did not close the doors. He indicated that the church is a distribution center to those in need, and the church will be available to house people after the shelters reach capacity.

Since the backlash, the church began receiving victims on Tuesday afternoon. Air mattresses were lined up to accommodate the overflow from shelters. The church is the former home of the NBA's Houston Rockets, which is big enough for several hundred people to be housed on the second floor and more can stay in other areas. The church is also helping victims with supplies such as diapers, baby food and formula and some things adults need.

The public thinks what Lakewood Church is doing is good news, but people also wonder why it took so long for one of the largest congregations in the United States to act. The church has six services each week with an attendance of about 52,000 people.