Justin Bieber offered high praise for friend and spiritual adviser Pastor Carl Lentz, on day three of his Sydney, Australia visit to attend the five-day Hillsong Church conference.
The 21-year-old superstar credited the Pentecostal pastor with bringing about a positive change in his life during his turbulent 2013-14.
Bieber was raised as a Christian by his born-again mother, Pattie Mallette, and previously said he reconnected with his faith last year under the guidance of Pastor Lentz and Pastor Judah Smith of the Seattle-based The City Church. In June 2014, TMZ claimed the singer was re-baptised by Lentz in a bathtub in New York City, but that has never been officially confirmed.
“I’m glad to know him. He’s changed my life,” Ten Network television reported Bieber as saying when he apparently chimed on an interview Lentz gave at the Allphones Arena on Tuesday, where 20,000 other delegates have gathered for the annual conference.
The Biebs and longtime friend Hailey Baldwin arrived separately in Sydney on Monday for the conference which ends Friday. The pair are regular attendees at Hillsong Church’s Los Angeles and New York City locations. The Canadian singer’s ex-girlfriend, Selena Gomez attends in L.A.
The “Where Are U Now” singer has reportedly been seen going to the twice daily worship sessions at Allphones Arena. He was also videoed chatting about how much he’s enjoying his sojourn and reportedly made a reference to his faith while talking at #hillsongbackstage which goes out online.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph at the Conference, Lentz — who co-founded and co-pastors Hillsong NYC with Joel Houston — said his relationship with Bieber is like “regular friends who talk all the time.”
Lentz, 36, is often referred to as the “Hipster Pastor” because of his modern style of dress and past Mohawk haircut. He reportedly dropped out of college, later finding his religious vocation in Sydney, where he also met his Australian wife, Laura. Hillsong is known for its lively, concert-like services, real talk evangelicalism, and “come as you are” policy.
“We met when Justin was 14 after his mum reached out and we’ve become close from that day. He’s a part of our lives and has lived with us for weeks on end,” Lentz told The Daily Telegraph.
Lentz went on to say that Bieber wants to make sure his heart is right”. He added that he thinks it’s amazing the singer is so “kind and normal” given his high-profile life, musing, “I can’t even explain the suffocating nature of the kind of fame that he has.”
Elaborating, the pastor revealed, “If he’s going through something horrible, we’ll talk about it. If he makes a decision where I think he could have done something wiser, we’ll talk about it.”
Lentz said the heartthrob is committed to his Christian faith, noting, “He flew halfway round the world at the busiest time of the year for him just for a church conference. It shows you what matters to him.”
Meanwhile Hillsong senior pastor, Brian Houston, told Ten that Bieber paid his own way to Australia.
“It was a last minute thing. I really admire him for it,” Houston explained to Nine Network. “I think a lot of things got the better of him, like happens with young kids.”
Houston continued, “No doubt he’d probably be the first to say he lost his way in a whole lot of ways. He then added, “I I think he realizes that it’s now-or-never time to try to build better foundations into his life.”
A spokesperson for Hillsong released a statement on Monday which stated the following.
“People come from across the world to Sydney each year to attend Hillsong Conference. Justin is here – like tens of thousands of others – as a delegate who is seeking to build stronger foundations into his life.”
“He is not participating in the conference in any other capacity.”
“The purpose of the conference is to honour God, and our hope for all attending is that their lives are enriched.”
In addition to attending the conference, Bieber has been snapped skateboarding at Bondi beach, swimming at the exclusive Iceberg’s Bondi Club, and skateboarding at the Monster Skatepark in Sydney. He is reportedly staying at the five-star Pullman hotel, which is next to the Allphones Arena.
On Wednesday, the prince of pop, took selfies for a large group of fans waiting outside his hotel. Bieber wore a Marilyn Manson t-shirt and posed happily for often tearful fans. At one point, he mopped tears from one girl’s eyes. Most of the female fans received hugs as well as pecks on cheeks. Later Wednesday, the Biebs held an impromptu Q&A with a group of fans after his Monster Skatepark session.
JUSTIN JUST DID A Q&A OUTSIDE THE SKATE PARK
— josh (@imcalledjxsh) July 1, 2015
he just did a q & a with us for like 5 minutes
— the opshop queen (@bradslad) July 1, 2015
NEW MUSIC & PERFORMANCE pic.twitter.com/DaVcV23bTB
— sophie / I MET HIM (@SimplyBieberr) July 1, 2015
Some of these fans took to Twitter to share pics. The fan website JustinBieberCrew.com also tweeted photos. Australian news networks shared videos accompanying reports.
— 7 News Sydney (@7NewsSydney) July 1, 2015
Thank you for all you have ever done for us. After all of these years, I have finally met my whole entire world. pic.twitter.com/1FUkaXmd6O
— I MET HIM (@grxndeftbiebers) July 1, 2015
— porto (@nglemily) July 1, 2015
— I LOVE YOU HARRY! (@HarryIsLife5) July 1, 2015
the last time he was here he was at his lowest point and it's so nice seeing him happy pic.twitter.com/3vKTrlPM6Z
— luisa (@kidrauhlvibes) July 1, 2015
— Evangelia (@Angelique_Biebz) July 1, 2015
One of the fans that met Justin today, was Kate, whom he performed for in 2013. He remebered her, asking how she was. pic.twitter.com/k4vFE4RSAc
— JustinBieberCrew.com (@JBCrewdotcom) July 1, 2015
JUSTIN TELLING ME I LOOK INCREDIBLE (even though I was wearing a dressing gown lmao wtf) https://t.co/ELxitL5yDZ
— kate (@BieberMelbourne) July 1, 2015
— marion_alyssa (@awesomemaz1) July 1, 2015
— juless (@biebsusxo) July 1, 2015
I have waited 8 years for this moment. pic.twitter.com/kjmbFOGw5N
— I FINALLY MET HIM. (@justinscalvins_) July 1, 2015
I DIDNT GET TO TWEET BEFORE CAUSE MY@PHONE WAS SMASHED BUT I JUST FOR IT FIZED AND I MET HOM WTF pic.twitter.com/AQ6yO2l07h
— lauren (@av0nsaussie) July 1, 2015
— Priscilla (@pmidon99) July 1, 2015
I LOVE HIM SO MUCH pic.twitter.com/D5zy4zP0P2
— Nass. (@biebsftnxrry) July 1, 2015
— carissa (@ausbieberauhl) July 1, 2015
(12) More photos of Justin Bieber meeting fans at his hotel in Sydney, Australia. (July 1) pic.twitter.com/rkGpdIg1CT
— JustinBieberCrew.com (@JBCrewdotcom) July 1, 2015
It was just so nice interacting with justin and not worrying about trying to get photos and that's all I wanted out of this trip
— jess (@itsjessconroy) July 1, 2015
[Images via KHAPGG/Twitter/Instagram]