Joe Bradford Was Born & Raised in Nashville, TN.

Joe Bradford was brought up in poverty in a small town west of Nashville. He stayed with his grandmother, mother, and sister, and he seldom heard from his father. As the years went on, Joe’s life came to be increasingly chaotic – he encountered the entanglement of poverty, almost succumbed from a snake bite, and endured time in jail for hacking into computers. Joe confesses he was among the first computer cyberpunks in the 80’s.

Joe was one of the first people to ever hack into a bank, and even though he didn’t commit an overt crime. He simply hacked into the bank to prove to a friend that he could, and retreated, he was still charged with a crime and sentenced to prison.

In prison he spent a lot of time in solitary confinement, and as he shares he had no one to talk to, so he talked to God. Which changed his perspective, and his life coming out of prison.

After Joe Bradford Was Released From Prison

When he was released from prison, he came across Denise, with whom they, and turned his life back to Christ. Bradford testified that he was like the prodigal son. Furthermore, despite all the problems be was going through in life, Bradford also had to battle a deadly kidney ailment. During one 15-month duration, he spent 9 hours every day on a dialysis machine. Although he got a kidney transplant 14 years back and is presently in nice health, the struggles he went through in his previous life made him develop a heart for the oppressed and the poor.

While battling with kidney disease, Joe and his spouse Denise went through monetary challenges and were pushed to relocate to one of Nashville’s project communities. One morning, they found their neighbor, a small deaf girl, gazing through the window of their front door. Denise handed over candy to her and the girl left, only to come back with her sisters and brothers. Denise gave them all candy. Within a week, about 50 kids showed up to Joe and Denise’s door. Nevertheless, it wasn’t only candy that the children yearned for; they required assist in several aspects. With whatever Joe and Denise could acquire, they tried to assist these children with vital essentials, their school work, and their personal needs. In the film, Denise proclaims how she was shocked upon realizing how the problem of hunger was.

Having prior experience in musical orchestration and performance, Joe and Denise started overseeing a choir of inner-city children – kids such as those in their own community. It was during one of these choir rehearsals, they came to comprehend the purpose of their lives. As the other kids were munching the donated pre-rehearsal feast, a young girl with a swollen eye moved towards Joe. The girl had been knocked by her furious, drug-addicted mum and was terrified and in distress. Joe calmed her and also prayed for her. When the girl’s sister saw this, she went to Joe and asked him whether he would be his daddy, and even before he had answered, another small girl walked up and asked Joe the same question. This went on as child after child encircled Joe asking with sincerity whether Joe would be their daddy. Joe was greatly moved by their actions and he embraced them all. From that moment he became “Papa Joe,” and he and Denise devoted their energies to assist children in need

Papa Joe and Denise co-founded Elijah’s Heart in 2001 and, today, are actively joining with other people throughout the country to express love to kids and families in hopeless need. Elijah’s Heart is presently composed of four fundamental ministry programs: 1) Walk of Love – outreach that takes food and merchandises into project neighborhoods, 2) Unity Choir – children’s choir that performs at fundraising exhibitions for Elijah’s Heart, 60-70 existing members, and expanding, 3) ACTION – drama crew that performs at fundraising events for Elijah’s Heart, 4) Education – A program that provides laptops to children to assist in their education. A movie producer who had been working for the organization caught wind of a testimony by papa Joe and he decided to turn the testimony into a motion picture.

The Film Based on Papa Joe Bradford’s Story

Unconditional, a feature-length film, was released on September 21, 2012, and is based on true events in the life of Papa Joe and Denise. In the film, Samantha Crawford is keeping up a storybook life: she’s happily wedded, living on a ranch where she keeps a horse she loves so much, and the stories she has told and illustrated since childhood have become published in books. When her spouse Billy is murdered in unreasonable unrest, Sam sacrifices her beliefs and her will to survive. But a death-defying encounter with two kids results in a reunion with Joe, her oldest companion. As Sam follows “Papa” Joe compassion and love the children in his ill-resourced community, she starts to acknowledge that regardless of one’s life’s situations, the love of God is constantly reaching out to us. The film features celebrity actor Michael Ealy who plays Joe Bradford in the film.

According to Papa Joe, approximately 90% of the movie is founded closely on actual circumstances from his life, remarking that filmmakers obtained artistic license to illustrate his testimony to the big screen. For instance, in real life, Joe and Denise were already wedded when they began their outreach, but for the sake of a sentimental storyline, they are yet to marry where the film picks up. Whether founded on facts or fiction, both Joe and Denise wish the movie will encourage other individuals to act in their own neighborhoods and help change the world for the better.

Papa Joe Bradford is just one example of a man who went through the prison system that came out a changed man. It can be done. There are many opportunities for people like Joe to positively serve the world and the community, if we give them a shot.

Listen to a heartfelt interview with Papa Joe Bradford himself on the Healthy Wild And Free podcast on Itunes here.

Or stream within it below:

Enjoy the chat below: