Brad Hoefs was a pastor for close to 40 years. During the spring of 1995, in the middle of the highest point of his career, his life took a dramatic turn.

"I had bipolar disorder and did not know it. I was reeling out of control," said Hoefs. "We had just finished the process of relocating the church. I had been the pastor for 10 years, and in that time, we went from 800 to 3000 in worship. It was great, but it was stressing me out. Even good things can cause problems and I was getting sicker."

Pastor Hoefs went on to have a manic episode that landed him in the news for close to a year and a half and ultimately ended his role as senior pastor of one of the nation's fastest-growing churches.

A group of medical people surrounded him and provided him with a safe place to heal and find hope again. These same people also decided to start up a church and asked Brad to be their pastor.

"I'm still pastoring some of those folks," said Brad. "They showed grace and mercy to me," Hoefs explained.

For about seven years, Brad struggled with trying to figure out how to live in spite of having bipolar. One thing that he discovered was that there were no resources available for people looking for Christ-centred support. That's when he decided to start up Fresh Hope for Mental Health.

"When you see God redeeming your brokenness, you realize that your pain can be liquid gold for somebody else in regards to hope. My passion light came on," said Brad. "I believe that when we go through difficult things, God wants to repurpose all of that. He wants to redeem it. He wants to use it, and that's what happened."

Fresh Hope has established a curriculum for churches and faith-based organizations to help encourage and support those in their community facing a mental health diagnosis. The organization offers several peer-to-peer support groups, including resources for pastors, widows, Spanish-speaking individuals and teens. Fresh Hope is currently serving more than 90 small groups in 14 countries and is on a mission to continue expanding its reach. 

Today on Connections, Brad shares his story and why it's so important to consider the mental health of pastors. He'll also chat about his ministry.