Justin and Hailey Bieber took the cover of Vogue and got personal about the importance of church on the road to reconciliation, marriage, and faith development.
Love him or hate him, from the age of 13 to present Bieber would be catapulted into the spotlight for a long time. Who knew the young Canadian native would have a career that went from a few viral videos to sold-out shows and even a movie.
Whether you love his music or can’t stand it, on the outside, Justin’s career is an undeniable success. He had everything a young artist could ask for in money, adoring fans, fame, and awards. Justin Bieber seemed to be living the dream.
For some time we started to see the signs of the pressure getting to him. Much like his public image, Justin says he felt himself dissolving internally.
To deal with the stress, the loneliness, and the paranoia of being used, Justin found himself in a downward spiral of drug abuse and promiscuity that began to eat away at him the further and deeper he dove.
“I found myself doing things that I was so ashamed of, being super-promiscuous and stuff, and I think I used Xanax because I was so ashamed,” he said.
He continued, “My mom always said to treat women with respect. For me, that was always in my head while I was doing it, so I could never enjoy it.”
Bieber’s mother and Hailey’s father are born-again believers, which is how the two initially connected.
“Drugs put a screen between me and what I was doing. It got pretty dark. I think there were times when my security was coming in late at night to check my pulse and see if I was still breathing.”
Bieber wasn’t just near the edge, he was driving to the edge white-knuckled and metal to the floor, and everyone knew.
The young star needed a break, and in 2014, Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz was intent on providing one. Lentz convinced Bieber to move into his New Jersey home for several weeks. There they played basketball, hockey, and soccer while Justin could reassess his life and faith. During this detox period, Justin interned for Lentz at Hillsong and refocused on his religious faith.
The sabbatical at the Lentz’s’ was a marker of change for the young artist and a chance for change. For Justin, who says that he has not ingested a drug since, this was a chance for him to take big steps in overcoming his vices, fixing his public image, and sprouting in his faith.
During this time, the Bieber’s would date, split, and avoid each other, but church was always a constant.
Pastor of Vous Church, Rich Wilkerson Jr. (who officiated the marriage of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian), hosted a conference in June of 2018 in Miami where the Bieber’s finally ran into each other.
At this point, Justin had been taking his faith more seriously and was over a year in a celibacy vow.
Once again they found the church to be central in their crossing paths and began to slowly mend their relationship.
“The common denominator, I promise you, is always church. By then we were past the drama. I just gave him a hug,” said Hailey. “By the end of the conference, he was like, ‘We’re not going to be friends.’ I was like, ‘We’re not?’”
It was a long, winding road of recovery and reconciliation, but within a month of rekindling their relationship, he popped the question and put a ring on her finger.
Judah Smith, the pastor of the Seattle-based ministry Churchome, is a key spiritual advisor and role model in Bieber’s life. Judah runs a weekly Churchome service in Beverly Hills, attracting all kinds of people, including the Biebers.
Smith says of Justin, “He can feel everything, and that’s from those years spent wondering who in the room is being authentic with him. His spider sense is remarkable, but it haunts him a bit…..I get emotional now, watching him make a great effort to care about the people around him when the last decade of his life was lived in a glass box.”
Although he might be far from perfection or spiritual maturity, the relationships between Justin Bieber, faith communities, and their leaders have been critical in the growth and change in his faith, and possibly saved his life. From drugs and party heavy, Saturdays to loving and serving his wife and sermon filled Sundays, it is quite a change from the Bieber many of us remember at one point. Undoubtedly the role of the church in his recovery and transformation make one thing clear: The Lord can use a community to help transform anyone — from the least to the greatest — among us.