Wiping Away Tears, Joel Osteen Announces Lakewood Church Paid Off $100M Loan

In an emotional moment, Joel Osteen, the pastor of the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, took to the stage last Sunday to tell church members because of their “faithfulness” in their giving, the church had paid off its $100 million loan from Bank of America that they had been paying back for almost 20 years. 

“It’s because of your faithfulness,” Osteen told his congregation, according to The Houston Chronicle. “You paid it off by the goodness of God.”

After a video presentation showing how the megachurch church had acquired what was then known as the Compaq Center, Osteen, with his wife Victoria standing by his side, spoke about what was needed after the church acquired the arena where 45,000 people now meet to worship every week. 

“I look back over these 19 years, and there have been great years. I mean, Lakewood has been a lighthouse to the whole world. And it was interesting when we got the facility. You know, it was a basketball arena, like you saw. But, you know, underneath these bleachers, service areas, and locker rooms and where they serve food, it wasn’t public areas,” Osteen said. “We needed nurseries, and we needed children’s facilities. We needed a lot more things.”

Osteen told the packed audience how the church had at first leased the facility from the city for 60 years in 2001 for $11.5 million. Then a few years later, he sought bids to have the arena renovated into what the church needed, including an indoor stage, redesigning the outdoor facade, and replacing the locker rooms and food areas with rooms for childcare and meetings. In addition, the church planned to build a five-story building next to the arena, according to The Chronicle

“I got the bill back for the bids, and it was $100 million to renovate. And I thought, kind of, ‘God, I didn’t sign up for this.’ I was 36 years old. And I thought, but you know what, God gives you grace for every season of your life,” Osteen said, smiling. 

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He then recalled going to the bank where he and his late father, John Osteen, had accounts for years to try to secure a loan. To his surprise, the bank turned him down. 

“Let me tell you, y’all, they were so negative. They were just like, ‘Man, it’s not gonna happen. We don’t think you can raise the money and all this stuff.’ And man, we walked out of there and I was discouraged at first until I let it go in one ear and out the other,” Osteen said.

Then the church went to Bank of America to try to get the loan.  

“The first day we were there without even knowing us. They had never seen our financials. They had a check for $25 million that they said we could borrow,” the pastor said as he became emotional, covering his eyes as he cried. 

After taking a minute to compose himself, and wiping away tears, Osteen continued, “I saw that $25 million, I said, ‘You all are going to let us borrow $25 million, would you let us borrow $100 million?’ They said, ‘We’ll do it.’ Bank of America loaned us $100 million.”

“So, my big announcement today is that as of Dec. 31 of last year, we have officially paid off the $100 million loan,” the pastor said tearing up again as the audience cheered and gave a standing ovation. 

Osteen noted that during the 20 years the church was paying on the loan, the congregation never cut back on any of the church’s outreaches. 

“We spent hundreds of millions of dollars on media and humanitarian {aid}, and helping people all over the world,” he said

Praising church members for their giving and support, Osteen said the church is basically “out of debt” except for some smaller debt on capital equipment. 

“What God has done for Lakewood, he’s going to do in your life,” he said transitioning into his message. “I believe in 2024 you’ll see God release you from some things that have held you back. Release you from debt. Release you from addiction. Release you from wrong mindsets. I just believe a year of release. A year of just God’s goodness in new ways.”

Osteen recalled how the church purchased the building from the city in 2010 for $7.5 million. 

“So now we officially own the building,” he said as the audience cheered. 

For more than 20 years, Osteen has been the senior pastor of the non-denominational Lakewood Church. After his father died in 1999, the church grew to one of America’s largest congregations with more than 50,000 in weekly attendance, according to The Houston Chronicle

In addition, the church’s TV broadcasts and digital platforms reach an estimated audience of more than 200 million viewers worldwide. 

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