In an update to the story of preacher Joel Osteen being heckled, the Houston Chronicle is identifying the suspects who were arrested at Osteen’s church as Jacob Gardner, 26; Kevin Fessler, 27; Mark DeRouville, 25; Matthew Martinez, 27; Randall Valdez, 28; and Richard Trudeau, 32.
The suspects. mugshots are in this link.
The suspects are reportedly members of the Church of Wells, in Wells, Texas a little over two hours north of Houston. William Martin, a senior fellow in religion and public policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute, told the Chronicle that he does not know much about the Church of Wells, but the church appears to be a small, insular and extreme religious group.
“They appear to believe they are the only people acceptable to God,” he said.
Church elder Ryan Ringnald posted on his Facebook page earlier this month: “The evangelical compromisers, because of their neutralizing position, never denounce the inroads of Modernism in the Christian Church or even denounce the apostate Church of Rome. You never hear them preach old-time prophetic messages concerning the coming anti-christ and the apostasy of the last days. They cannot. They dare not.
“The Word of God is clear. There is no need for us to dwell in darkness. There is no need for us to remain in ignorance as to the last days prior to the coming of the Lord. We have the ‘sure word of prophecy’ which shines all around about us (see 2 Peter 1:19).
As previously reported, Megachurch preacher Joel Osteen was heckled during his sermon on Sunday in Houston, the Washington Times reported Monday. The video above includes the exchange.
Houston police said the six protesters who heckled Osteen are associated with The Church of Wells, which is based in Wells, Texas. Wells is a little over 2 hours north of Houston. The protesters are facing criminal trespass charges. They were escorted out of Lakewood Church by church ushers. Those volunteer ushers are also off-duty police officers, the CBS station KHOU reported.
“He jumped up with his Bible and started screaming ‘Shame on you Joel, shame on you Joel,’ and Joel kind of just repeated scripture and they just escorted them out,” Casey Eaglin, a member of Lakewood Church, told reporters.
“I was terrified for a quick second there,” he added. “After the first guy, I thought, ‘Oh it’s just a random heckler,’ but then you start seeing the second, the third.
“For a second there I started thinking about the church shooting that happened and I was thinking, ‘Oh God, something bad is about to happen,’ but they were real quick,” Eaglin added.
Another witness, Anwar Richardson, also made comparisons to the Charleston church shootings.
“All I could think of is you don’t know what’s going on, and I just can’t wait to find out, so I’ve gotta get out of there,” he told a local ABC affiliated station.
In response to the hecklers, Osteen said, “Thank you all for your patience and we’ll just continue to receive what God has for us. It’s a good day to be alive.”
Richardson posted on social media, “Crazy scene. Sixth person ejected from Lakewood Church by police and security.” He added, “The praise and worship was good. His wife had just delivered a quick message. And the moment he started to preach, somebody gets up and they yell “Joel Osteen you’re a liar,'” said Richardson.
Richardson made a video of a security taking one of the hecklers out. In the video, you can hear the congregation clapping as Osteen attempts to move along with his sermon, ut the disruptions continued.
“After the sixth time that it occurred, my son was sleeping in my lap, and I looked at my wife and she was nervous and we just decided we have to get out of here,” the witness said.
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