Born in Nashville and raised in a small country town west of Nashville, Joe Bradford grew up in great poverty along with his grandmother, mother and sister. His father and mother separated before Joe was born, and he didn’t hear from his father from the age of 3 to 22.
As the years passed, Joe’s life became increasingly turbulent, experiencing the entrapment of poverty, a near-death experience from from a snakebite, time in prison for computer hacking, and fighting a deadly kidney disease.
During his fight with kidney disease, Joe and his wife Denise experienced financial challenges and were forced to move into one of Nashville’s inner-city communities. Here, they would learn the definition of "unconditional love."
Papa Joe’s life is the inspiration behind the feature-length film Unconditional which released nationally on September 21, 2012. Unconditional is the story of a lady named Sam who lives a storybook life: she's happily married, she lives on a ranch where she keeps her beloved horse, and the stories she's told and illustrated since childhood have become published books.
But when her husband is killed in a senseless act of violence, Sam loses her faith and will to live. But a death-defying encounter with two children leads to a reunion with Joe (based on Joe Bradford), her oldest friend. As Sam watches "Papa" Joe care for and love the kids in his under-resourced neighborhood, Sam begins to realize that no matter life's circumstances, God's love is always reaching out to us.
Papa Joe is also author of his autobiography, A Walk of Love (2nd edition release coming in Spring 2022), which takes readers on his personal journey toward finding his true purpose in life and vividly describes the overwhelming challenges Joe has faced throughout his life. The book inspires the reader to recognize that there can be great purpose in the difficult seasons and that a warrior can be made, not from violence, but from love.
However, Papa Joe has a new book that will be released on October 12, 2021, called Love or War? Choose Love. Most of us would agree that, as Christians, we are on the side of love. In this book (which has a workbook as well), Papa Joe describes THE SEVEN DOORS OF LOVE and their counterparts, THE SEVEN DOORS OF HATE by contrasting the daily choices that each door provides us. Papa Joe summarizes each chapter with opportunities to practice with accountability partners. The more we practice love, the more Jesus will transform our hearts into higher levels of love!