Through a powerful story of grace and redemption, bestselling author, producer, and inspirational speaker Pattie Mallette challenged students at Liberty University Convocation on Monday to take action rather than just talk about their intentions.
“We are not made to sit on the sidelines while people suffer. We are commissioned to make great change in this world,” she said. “Today it is my responsibility and it is your responsibility to step up and make a difference.”
The reason many people do not follow their calling, Mallette said, is because they are discouraged by criticism based on their circumstances — what she called “you are only” statements, such as “you are only a kid from the projects.”
Mallette is best known as the mother of pop sensation Justin Bieber, but she has not let her son’s celebrity overshadow the powerful work God has done in her own life.
She shared her story, which is detailed in her bestselling book, “Nowhere but Up,” explaining how despite overwhelming circumstances, including neglect, abuse, addiction, attempted suicide, poverty, and an unplanned teen pregnancy, God never gave up on her and ultimately captured her heart with His love.
Now, Mallette dedicates much of her time to humanitarian efforts. She recently launched her foundation, Round 2, which seeks to offer a second chance to those who have been knocked down by providing assistance and resources to those in distress. She supports crisis pregnancy centers — which were a tremendous resource to her during and after her pregnancy. Liberty Godparent Home, located on Liberty’s campus, is similar to the facility where she received assistance.
Mallette said there is a place for programs to help the less fortunate, but ultimately “people are God’s Plan A.”
As an example, she shared the familiar story of David and Goliath from I Samuel 17. She described how the Israelites came dressed for war every day for 40 days but retreated in fear each time because of the giant Goliath’s heckling. When the shepherd boy David came to the battlefield, he too was discouraged by the giant’s words, but instead of drawing back, he took action.
“In spite of the condescending disapproval and the sheer size of the feat ahead of him, something rose up inside (David) against injustice to take action,” she said before quoting David’s words to King Saul in verse 32, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine, your servant will go out and fight him.”
This is what made David different from the rest of the crowd, Mallette said.
“David makes one of the greatest leaps for anyone, in my opinion: he goes from (saying) ‘Someone should do something about this’ to ‘I will be the one to do something about it.’”
Though David felt belittled by Goliath, he rose up and defeated the giant himself.
“If we are going to be the people who impact every corner of culture, we need to take that leap,” Mallette said. “We have to develop the attitude, like David, that says I will do whatever it takes to fight against oppression and injustice.”
In a brief interview after Convocation, Mallette said her first visit to Liberty filled her with hope for that fight.
“I think it is amazing here. I am honestly really inspired by the amount of people here and their ability to impact so many corners of culture.”