Fresh Hope for YOU and the Church

An Interview with Brad Hoefs

When you hear the word church, what comes to mind? Do words like comfort, connection, authenticity, excitement, joy, acceptance, or support surface?

Brad Hoefs

Or do words like . . .

  • Condemnation
  • Judgment
  • Rejection
  • Fear
  • Chastisement
  • Anger

Bubble up? Our world today is desperate for hope. The church is the community God ordained to offer the hope found only in Jesus. Sadly, oftentimes, those looking for hope have found rejection, judgment, and hurt—not from Jesus but from those who profess to be Christians.

Brad Hoefs knows this all too well. While pastoring one of the nation’s fastest-growing churches, Brad’s life fell apart due to a mental-health challenge.

While most of his congregation offered judgment, a few people came to his rescue. The story of finding fresh hope began as Brad journeyed through the healing process. As you watch this interview, I hope you ask yourself . . .

What would my church have done?

What would I have done?

Is my church a place that people run to for grace and hope?

Watch the Interview

Interview Questions

  1. How has your “messy” testimony brought hope and healing for others?
  2. Tell us about your ministry Fresh Hope.
  3. Why is it so important to forgive ourselves as well as others?
  4. Why is it helpful for us to remember our hurts?
  5. How did Fresh Hope get started?
  6. How were you shown extraordinary grace by the members of your congregation?
  7. How can we forgive others who have hurt us while still holding them accountable for their actions?
  8. Why must we resist making excuses for our weaknesses?
  9. Why is there a stigma about Christians taking medication for mental illness?
  10. How can our feelings be at odds with what we know to be true about God?
  11. Can we ever be too broken for God to fix?

Let Me Hear from You

If you have been hurt by people in the Christian church, I understand. I also understand that hope for all humanity comes from Jesus Christ. In our world, we need hope . . . FRESH HOPE . . . not hope for a moment but hope for a lifetime. Regardless your struggles, please connect with Brad Hoefs and Insight for Living Ministries. We long for all who hurt to find hope and meaning in life.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

About Brad Hoefs

After experiencing a bipolar relapse in 2002, Brad knew it was time to start attending a mental health support group.

For years Brad had believed that if a church/ministry meets unmet needs of the people in the community that the people will show up. And that is exactly what happened. After starting the Fresh Hope group, the church where Brad served as pastor grew significantly. People knew that it was a safe place of healing and hope. Hope is desperately needed for those who suffer . . . as well as for those who love them!

Brad has committed his life to stomping out hopelessness for those who have mental illnesses. He is a certified peer specialist and mental health advocate. He serves on the State Advisory Committee to the Governor of Nebraska Mental Health Services. In March 2013, Brad released his first book, Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis. He regularly coaches others to live well in spite of their struggle with mental health issues. He’s committed to helping break the stigmas regarding mental illness and challenging the church-at-large to address the needs of those who struggle in silence.

Brad Hoefs Resources

Insight for Living Ministries Resources

Messages by Charles R. Swindoll:

Booklet by Charles R. Swindoll:

Reframing Ministries Resources



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10 thoughts on “Fresh Hope for YOU and the Church

  1. I just wanted to share with you and Pastor Brad how much this interview blessed me. I am the wife of a man who has the same diagnosis as Brad, Bipolar I. In our almost 18 years of marriage, we have been through our own versions of hell and trials by fire. We are believers who met in a Christian music ministry. My husband was diagnosed Bipolar at age 16, so when we married, I knew he had a bipolar diagnosis, but I was very naive about exactly what that meant. Let’s just say that I have received quite the education! I found Brad via bphope and his blogs, and followed the links that eventually led me to Fresh Hope. Recently I have been participating in the online support group that meets weekly. We currently do not have a group in my city, but prayerfully that will change one day! I really resonated with the things he shared in the interview from his wife’s perspective, and I especially appreciated what he shared about the children and how they turned out. We have a 13 year old daughter who is wise beyond her years because of the things we have experienced. I have received so much hope and encouragement by his testimony.

    I have a blog where I have been sharing about our experiences as a family living in the shadow of bipolar disorder. My husband was gone from us for nearly 5 years due to his illness. Another time, he was gone for nearly a year. He returned to our family in March 2016 after we had not seen him in YEARS, and we are currently rebuilding our lives individually and as a family. God has done, and continues to do, some truly amazing things! I have not yet shared publicly where my husband was during his time away from us, (I would be happy to share it privately, it is a difficult, and yet amazing…story!). He has recently given me permission to begin sharing more and I’ve been praying about how to go about that. The Lord has been leading me lately to share more of our story, even in the midst of our current recovery, and even the messy and shameful parts. It has been a beautiful mess for sure because God makes ALL things beautiful in His time!

    I also recently obtained a copy of Brad’s book, which my husband agreed to go through with me. I was so moved by the very beginning of the book, where Brad shared about how God can redeem our story. I am so grateful for Fresh Hope. I would be honored if you would look at my blog…here is a recent post I did about why I did not divorce my husband. I sure wish I could talk to Brad’s wife!!! I have rarely, if ever, encountered a spouse like myself. It has been a lonely road at times for me, but my hope and prayer is to offer hope to people in my position, that their marriages CAN survive, by the grace of God, and He is SO good and SO faithful in the midst of our mess, and really does redeem and restore. I really believe the Lord wants to use our family and our story as a testimony of His goodness and how He truly gives us treasure in the darkness! (Hence the blog name, Mining for Diamonds). Blessings to you and again, THANK YOU for this.

    • Kimberly,
      I immediately sent your note to Pastor Brad-how amazing it is to learn we are not alone in our pain! It’s a profound comfort to learn someone really ‘gets’ us, where we really live, what we honestly face every day without judgment or question. You are so loved and admired! Because of my son’s disabilities, my children have struggled with many challenges; yet I always told them they could choose to use the hardships as tools to grow empathy, resilience, tolerance, and a non-judgmental attitude, or they could become bitter, disengaged, distant, and hardened. I believe that is an ongoing choice for us all, whatever we face in this life. You clearly have chosen endurance, perseverance, patience, love, honor, kindness, and hope in our God. There are several other mental health interviews I’ve had with some outstanding individuals who, due to their life stories, have started life-changing, global ministries. I encourage you to see Joe Padilla’s (Mental Health Grace Alliance), Matthew Stanford, and Kay Warren’s interview…on those days when you are down, I hope their stories give you strength to press on.
      Thank you for including your site as well. I love the name, love the purpose, and yes, your story needs to be told. I just learned of another site called “Bipolarbrave” which is fantastic. Honest. Authentic. Nothing to hide with much hope to give. So glad to connect with you and if I can be of any help or just a listening ear, please connect anytime.

      • Hi, Colleen, Thank you so much for your encouraging words and support. I will be sure to check out those other interviews you mentioned. I had a chance to listen to the podcast of Brad interviewing YOU, and I was inspired by your story as well! You just never know the things people deal with!!! The theme of brokenness has become near and dear to my heart. I hold on to the hope that the Lord will take the brokenness that my family, and especially my husband, has experienced, and make “kintsugi” out of it! Do you know this word? It means “golden repair”. I SO love the concept! I am holding on to this right now, as currently, even after ALL we’ve already been through, (which has already been unbelievable!!) we are dealing with medication issues after a major change of meds in March! It has been a rough ride, but I am holding on to that hope and borrowing it wherever I can get it from, to quote something I heard Brad say! Blessings to you in your ministry, and for taking the time to respond.

        • Kimberly,
          Oh you are so dear! Your voice in your comments sounds so similar to what I have thought and said so often… “Lord, if what you have allowed is to be used to reach others, then I surrender to the process and am honored to bring you glory in all of it”. It’s easy to forget how messy things were for Jesus; but so helpful when we are in pain. I think of Isaiah’s prophecy in chapter 53… “He was oppressed and afflicted…led like a lamb to slaughter…by oppression and judgment he was taken away”. What I have to focus on are the words I left out… “oppressed YET DID NOT OPEN HIS MOUTH (unbelievable, isn’t it), led to slaughter IN SILENCE, and again DID NOT OPEN HIS MOUTH.” He continues “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer (his own son); And after his suffering, he will see the light of life and be satisfied” (Is. 53:7-8, 11). Kimberly, you will see the light of day again…sometimes it has come to me in a bright star on a dark night, other times through the voice of a friend, or in nature. I pray the medication issues are worked through-we deal with this issue so often and it can be terribly frustrating. When frustrated, call to Jesus who was broken and knows exactly where you are, has you there for a purpose you cannot see right now. What you are learning in this dark valley will provide light for others who come behind you longing for hope as you have. You will understand like few others and be a gift never forgotten. I’m so thankful to hear from you and want to be a support to you in any way possible.
          In His loving hands, Colleen

  2. I can relate. I am alone in this. Other than my understanding husband. He’s been a help. I need help. I tend to not go out. I keep my family away. They don’t understand my condition and how I suffer from it.

    • Christlover,
      I am so, so glad you reached out. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!! I know it feels that way because so few people are brave and willing enough to open up like you did here. I can hear the fear and sadness in your note…I’m so sorry for your struggles. Somedays go better than others; but a lifetime seems impossible to tackle because we can’t. That’s why we need one another. I have interviewed several mental health professionals which I urge you to call or connect with. Joe Padilla has the Mental Health Grace Alliance…his story would be of tremendous encouragement! You can find his interview here: . Matthew Stanford is also an excellent contact at the Hope and Healing Center in Houston, Texas. Brad’s information is in the show notes; I’m forwarding this to him in case you choose to connect with him. There is a web site called “BipolarBrave”…a blog written by a lovely woman who has a bipolar diagnosis. At Insight for Living, there are trained professional counselors who you can speak with as well; they are pastoral in nature, not mental health professionals. I would also encourage you to look at the “Breathe Life” center (; more secular in nature but extremely informed on trauma and treatment care.
      Please know you are always free to contact me at Insight for Living. My assistant can set up a phone call if needed. However I can come along side you, would be an honor. Please know how much I appreciate your connecting and how thankful I am that you are pressing on in spite of the tough place you are in! Please, please call or reach out anytime.
      Covering you in prayer, Colleen

      • I’m fearful I will drive my husband’s love for me to end. I act up in a flash hostility. Anxiety hurts by causing fights about how I think my husband thinks about me. I just recently in the past few years been looking my youth has faded. So my hubby doesn’t draw close. But it could be me by the way I exasperated my hubby. I am being maintained by my psychiatrist managing my meds. I desperately need counseling.

        Thank you for getting back to me. I’m interested in what your ministry is for and about. Thanks. Lisa

        • Lisa,
          I can hear desperation in your voice and a sense of panic. I’m so sorry, so sorry these things get complicated. But, I’m delighted you are reaching out because no one can walk through challenges alone.
          I did notice your concern about your hubby, the years fading by, and wondering what to do with it all. When you said “Flash hostility” as a way you respond to him. Have you ever asked him if he has been or is wounded, afraid, mad, or whatever when that happens? When I was in therapy, my counselor reminded me that repeated responses we give to others makes a great impact on how safe they feel with us. As I began to change the way I responded, they began to feel more safe with me. Thus, our communication opened up on new and wonderful levels. It just may be that he is afraid that flash hostility will come out at any moment so he stays more removed to protect his heart. Does that make sense? Anytime I feel distance with those I love, I ask if I’ve done something to shut them down or if their distance is due to something they are working through in their life. Assuming to know what others think is impossible so it’s best to ask, to listen, to seek counsel (great that you are getting help with meds), then move forward. I can hear your longing for a healthy relationship which is totally possible. Not all is lost, it may just be that a few changes in each of you will bring you closer.
          You also asked about Reframing Ministries and what it’s about… “Reframing” is a psychological word for a shift in perspective, seeing things from another point of view…AKA scripture, and then aligning our lives to God’s truths. My hope to help others get ‘unstuck’, to take the circumstances they never expected and find in them refinement and renewed hope for the future. My son with disabilities, previous domestic abuse and divorce, chronic pain, and mental health struggles have forced me to “Reframe” my life; it’s not at all what I expected, it’s much harder but so much better than I could have imagined. Reason being, I’ve come to know Christ as my Savior in a whole new way…not always pretty but always authentic and real. Plus, w/out my past, I couldn’t do what I love doing today…writing and helping other’s ‘reframe’ the narratives of their lives. He often allows us to go through hard stuff to equip us for something He has planned. Without the pain and refinement process, we often lack empathy, passion, or the character development needed to accomplish what He calls us to do. So whatever a person is going through, I’m with them for the long haul…breathing hope and support as I can into others who are down. I’ve been there so many times…and still face hard days…but I fully believe everything allowed is for a greater purpose. I know He has one for you and as you walk through hard times, I’m here to help in anyway. You’re going to make it! Colleen

    • Christlover,
      Thank you, that helps. I also sent your note to Brad in case you would like to connect directly with him, he’ll be on the look-out.
      Again, you are going to make it through today, you are a survivor, there is enormous hope one day at a time.