With a Beatles haircut and a voice that lulls the birds, 16-year-old Justin Bieber has taken the music community by storm (not to mention most teen and preteen girls). So much so, Paramount Studios has given young Mr. Bieber his own movie, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.
The concert bio opens in theaters February 11, giving viewers a rare inside look at the rise of Justin from street performer in the small town of Stratford, Ontario, to internet phenomenon to global super star culminating with a dream sold-out show in 3-D at Madison Square Garden.
From press notes: “As you may know, Justin and his mother are Christians and while this is a secular film about Justin and his music and while Justin’s faith is not overtly portrayed (there are faith-based glimpses) it is clean, safe, wholesome entertainment that parents and grandparents can take their kids to and not worry.”
I recently spoke with Justin’s mother, Pattie Mallette, an attractive studio mama devoted to her son, and to Christ. It quickly became clear that her spiritual witness was sincere, and by the end of the phone interview I was uplifted by her desire to serve the Lord through this remarkable circumstance.
Pattie’s own witness is touching. She had experienced sexual abuse as a little girl and found herself in a broken, tense home. To deal with her bottled-up pain, she turned to alcohol and drug abuse at the age of 14 and left home at 15, entering into emotionally unhealthy relationships. Finally, fed up with her existence, she attempted suicide, but was spared and ended up in a mental hospital. A man from a youth center was one of her few visitors. His name is John and he visited her often; each time they talked about God and life. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, John found ways to relay God’s love and concern for her. At first, Pattie resisted a spiritual awakening, but finally opened her heart and prayed to God. She spoke to Jesus, asking that if He was real, He would forgive her and come into her heart. This opened our conversation.
P.B. Where is home?
P.M. Our family and friends are in Canada and our stuff is in Atlanta. Right now, we pretty much live on the road.
P.B. When did Justin make his decision of faith?
P.M. He was really young, around five or six.
P.B. Is that right?
P.M. I told him, it was his decision. He couldn’t make it because of Mommy. It has to be because of your own heart. And he kept telling me that he understood. And when he was eight or nine, he wanted to be baptized. So, I let him.
P.B. I assume it’s difficult to attend church on a regular basis with your schedule.
P.M. It’s impossible. We do have a church in Atlanta and God has been faithful to hook us up wherever we go. When we can, we go on Sunday mornings wherever we are. And there are some churches that have live streaming webcasts that we watch and pray through.
P.B. What’s the most difficult aspect of this new celebrity?
P.M. The pressure – for both of us. Justin is under a tremendous amount of pressure as a role model to an entire generation. So many kids are looking to him. As teenagers, we all make mistakes. Fortunately and unfortunately, he’s in the public eye.
P.B. And the best part?
P.M. Favor with people. Freedom to be able to travel. We feel like we’re on this incredible journey. We’re so incredibly blessed.
P.B. You’re a single mom.
P.M. I was never married. I came to the Lord when I was seventeen, but shortly after accepting Christ, I went back to making my own decisions and got pregnant. Realizing what I had done, I came back to God wholeheartedly, begging Him to forgive me. It’s really an incredible testimony of God’s mercy and grace. And the genuine love of people at the church who encouraged me.
P.B. Does Justin have a father figure in his life?
P.M. (Quick to respond) Oh, his dad is a part of his life. He doesn’t travel with us and he’s not with us all the time, but his dad’s in his life. They talk on a regular basis and he visits when he can.
P.B. How do you keep your son grounded?
P.M. Through prayer. By surrounding him with good people, people who will hold him accountable, and by constantly reminding him that he’s here for a reason. “To whom much is given, much is required.” So, we just have to keep him lifted up in prayer.
P.B. I understand that there are prayer groups who pray for him, daily.
P.M. As a mother, that is so good to hear, because prayer is so powerful.
From press notes: “I’m aware of the dangers,” Pattie explained. “He’s my son and I’m accountable by God and by the law to protect him – which includes covering him spiritually. Justin’s faith is strong but he’s young and hasn’t come completely into himself yet. So what I can do is pray, teach and continue surrounding him with strong Christian influences.”
P.M. Do other celebrities give you or Justin advice concerning the pitfalls of fame?
P.M. It’s a small community. There aren’t many people who go through what celebrities go through. We find many of them have made themselves available and accommodating, as we do now for others.
P.B. Speaking of others in the media spotlight, there are some, like Miley Cyrus, who, while having a relationship with Christ, seem to have been seduced by the trappings of their pop fame.
P.M. I absolutely love Miley Cyrus. And I think that, unfortunately, as Christians, we sometimes kick our brothers and sisters when they are down. We need, in this time more than ever, to lift them up in prayer. They are a mouthpiece for a generation. Let’s pray for them, let’s encourage them. Let’s spur them on to the Lord. Let’s stop judging them and casting them out. You know, God has a plan, but so does Satan and he wants to take us out. It says that he comes to kill and destroy. So it’s important for us to be protective of our own. We need to pray for Christians and non-Christians in the spotlight.