Publisher’s Point: Mandisa’s Message

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

I was in Iraq when Mandisa competed on American Idol, and while I didn’t follow her career later on, when the song “Overcomer” came out, I fell in love with her beautiful spirit. So, when she was found dead at the age of 47 from undisclosed causes, I was dismayed. The assumption was that she had taken her life, and the industry of which I am a part helped to spread that rumor. That annoys me no end, and is irresponsible, but I digress.

So, when the autopsy revealed that there was no foul play, outwardly or inwardly, I felt genuine relief, and began to learn things about Mandisa that made me glad that I get to spend forever with her; she just got Home first, that’s all.

I had heard “Overcomer” as the intro to several National Marketing Director Speeches at conferences sponsored by the Juice Plus company, and the lyrics always inspired me, especially when I heard the stories of the “overcomers” themselves. Here are the lyrics in part:

Whatever it is you may be going through I know He’s not gonna let it get the best of you

You’re an overcomer Stay in the fight ’til the final round You’re not going under (you’re not going under) ‘Cause God is holding you right now

You might be down for a moment Feeling like it’s hopeless That’s when He reminds you That you’re an overcomer (whoa-oh) You’re an overcomer (whoa-oh)

Those who knew her well described her as a cheerleader, and while she went through a dark time after the death of a friend, she came through it. She really had the heart of a lioness. Yes, she battled with her weight. Yes, she considered taking her life. But the point is that she got help and she got back on track.

One of the things I learned about her was her grace, humility, and forgiveness when American Idol “meanie-judge” Simon Cowell (who is much kinder these days) mocked her for her weight. You know what? She forgave him, and did it publicly. She acknowledged that his statements had hurt her, but that she forgave him. Furthermore, she gave him the gospel. She said, “And I figured that if Jesus could die so that all my wrongs could be forgiven, I can certainly extend that same grace to you.” He responded with, “Mandisa, I am humbled. I am appalling, aren’t I?” Then he hugged her. She was a class act, and I appreciate her willingness to not only write and sing about her struggles, but to never give up. She won a Grammy for her song, “Overcomer,” and in 2019, the Kendrick brothers (Fireproof, Facing The Giants, Courageous, War Room) produced a movie of the same title. Guess what the themes are? Being accountable, forgiving, finding your identity in Christ, and never giving up.

So, as far as I am concerned, Mandisa’s message is safely intact, and I am looking forward to the day I can tell her how much her song and her life has strengthened me. In the meantime, I’ve got some overcomin’ to do.