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About Pastor Brad Hoefs:
- Is an ordained Pastor and Member of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations
- Has been and ordained pastor and pastoring since 1985
- Is the pastor of Community of Grace Lutheran Church in Elkhorn (since 1995)
- The church has seen over 110% growth in the 18 months
- Is the Executive Director of WorshipOutlet.com
- Founded Fresh Hope in 2009
- Is a State-certified Intentional Peer Support Specialist
- Was a appointed by Governor Heineman of Nebraska to serve on the State Advisory Committee on Mental Health Services
- Author of Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis
- Is married to his college sweetheart, Donna, for 33 years
- Has two adult married children and two grandchildren and another grandchild on the way
After experiencing a bipolar relapse in 2002 Brad knew it was time to start attending a support group since lack of knowledge about his disorder was at the core reason for his relapse. So, he began to attend a few mental health support groups in his community.
He was looking for encouragement and hope in regards to living life with bipolar disorder. However, what he experienced was a lot of hopelessness in the groups he attended. He found that people were talking about coping with their disorders as opposed to living life in spite of their disorders. He stopped going to the groups since they left him feeling hopeless and confused.
After his experience with the mental health support groups his doctor, Michael Egger, encouraged him to consider starting a group. In fact, Dr. Egger offered to help him in creating it. It was decided that Fresh Hope would be faith-based since the ultimate and sure hope we have comes alone from the Lord. So, in 2009 the first Fresh Hope group took place. What began as single Christian support group for those with mental health challenges (and for their loved ones) has ended up growing into numerous groups around the country.
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 that Brad pastors grew significantly because people knew that it was a safe place of healing and hope. Some four years after starting the Fresh Hope group the church worship attendance doubled. And while Brad is not suggesting that pastors consider starting a Fresh Hope group within their church as a church growth tool, he is encouraging pastors to consider starting a Fresh Hope group within their church because approximately 1 out of every 4 Americans suffers from a diagnosable mental illness in any given year. Hope is desperately needed for those suffer and also for those who love them! Yet, the Christian church has done little to nothing to reach out to those who struggle with mental illness. However, the body of Christ has a REAL and CERTAIN hope to offer! It’s not the hope you hope is “so”, but it is the hope that “is” so!
Brad has committed his life to stomping out hopelessness for those who have mental illness as well as for their loved ones. 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 of 2013 Brad’s first book, Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis was released. He and his wife, Donna, are working on the next Fresh Hope book which will be specifically for loved ones of those who have 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.