Justin Bieber has the support of yet another prominent pastor as he attempts to turn over a new leaf: "celebrity pastor" Rich Wilkerson Jr. has spoken out about the pop star, revealing he is "trying to walk his faith out."
During an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Wilkerson, who is best known for his reality show "Rich in Faith" and relationship with Hollywood power couple Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, urged the public to show compassion to Bieber, 21, as he attempts to leave his bad-boy image behind.
"He's been thrown into a whirlwind that I'll never know and so I think on his journey he's always trying to figure it out," he said. "Anybody who gets put into that limelight gets a bad rap. When you do something good, that gets exploited. When you do something bad, that gets exploited."
Wilkerson went on to emphasize that while Bieber has made a number of mistakes in his past, he should receive the kind of love and encouragement exemplified by Jesus Christ.
"People aren't projects, people are people. Projects have a start date and a finish date - that's not people. People are eternal beings and our job is to love, encourage, affirm," he continued, adding, "(Bieber's) got a heart of gold."
According to Wilkerson, the "What Do You Mean" singer has truly turned from his old behavior and is now seeking to live a life that honors God.
"(Justin) loves people and I think he's trying to walk his faith out," the pastor shared. "I'm thankful for him and I'm grateful for the man that he is."
As reported by the Gospel Herald, Bieber was baptized by Hillsong NYC Pastor Carl Lentz last year, and regularly discusses his newfound relationship with Jesus Christ.
"I could say it over and over again, I'm changing and doing this with my life," Bieber told Complex in an interview earlier this year. "At this point, my faith has gotten me to where I am...My faith has brought me to a whole other level. I love talking about my faith. Personally, love Jesus and that was my salvation. I want to share what I'm going through and what I'm feeling, and I think it shouldn't be ostracized."
Speaking to the New York Times last month, Bieber's longtime manager, Scooter Braun, revealed that the singer's conversion saved him from a deadly downward spiral.
"As I started to see it going in the wrong direction, I started to prepare. I put deals in place where he was protected for the long run," Braun said of Bieber's troubled past. "And I started to prepare my company to scale, because I was not going to let him work. [After Journals, Bieber's 2013 digital compilation,] he wanted to tour, and I honestly at that time felt, if he toured, he could die."
He added, "It wasn't until something happened that it clicked for him. He made the conscious decision as a young man: 'I need to make a change in my own life.'"
Braun emphasized that he is incredibly thankful for the transformation he has seen in Bieber, as the singer's issues were much worse than the public realized.
"The outsiders don't really know what was happening. It was far worse than people realize. And when he is ready, he will tell what he was going through," Braun told the Times. "But it's a hard thing to watch someone you care and genuinely love go through that. I'm really, really happy that's over."