“I remember after we prayed, I was in awe that night, and I went to some other gatherings, a dinner, and some parties. But I just couldn’t get over the fact that we just talked to the God of the universe, and our maker, our creator.” Jesse Bradley, former professional athlete and current Seatle Pastor explains. “That conversation was a turning point in my life.”
Bradley’s love for and devotion to soccer started early in life. He recalls telling his parents his dream to become a professional athlete at just three years old, keeping that dream as he grew into adulthood.
At Dartmouth College, Bradley worked hard and stayed consistent as the men’s soccer team goalie. A high-pressure and high-stakes position, Bradley helped take his team to win the Men’s Soccer Ivy League title twice during his four year college career.
Life was rewarding; fun friends and an active social life, an exciting collegiate sports career, good grades. But he knew there was more, and always felt like something was missing.
Journey to Faith
In his adolescent years, Bradley denied that God existed, but an Introduction to Religion course at Dartmouth forced him to reconsider his belief – and disbelief – in faith.
“That was the first time that I started to read different scriptures and texts, and consider the deeper questions. That is when I decided to start following Jesus.” tells Bradley.
Building a relationship with God was a big turning point for him on the field. In soccer one mistake could lose you the game. As Bradley describes there is a lot of pressure in the sport, especially as the goalie.
“When I came to know God, and then I just started to enjoy soccer more; the people, my teammates in the locker room, and, of course, the games, as well.”
Soon after his graduation from Dartmouth with a degree in psychology, Bradley moved overseas to continue pursuing his passion for soccer, playing professionally in Europe and Africa.
While tending goal for the Zimbabwe Highlanders professional soccer team, Bradley took a prescription medication that was used to prevent malaria. It built up toxin in his system and just like that, his soccer career ended suddenly. He spent a year fighting hard for his life, and it took ten years to fully recover.
“Through my experience with the illness, I realized every day is a gift from God. And certainly, I believe our lives are rooted in grace. I recognize when those gifts are coming, I know how special they are.”
The recovery process was hard fought. Throughout these years of recovery, Bradley managed to find the hope that comes during times of pain and suffering.
“I found that my pain points, and the lowest points during my life, have been the deepest connection with people. And people can relate to the fact that we can encourage and comfort each other. And there’s a bond that happens through that suffering.”
This is when things started to shift for Bradley, his whole life began to transform. He found himself in a new life of ministry, now as a pastor.
“I really didn’t think I’d become a pastor. That was a surprise. But sometimes some of the best experiences come out of the worst circumstances.”
Now, some twenty years later, Bradley has worked as a Pastor in multiple churches in multiple different states; from Iowa, to California, to their family’s current home in Seattle where he leads Grace Community Church.
“In ministry, you actually get to see marriages healed, you get to see people fulfilled, you get to see people break free from destructive patterns. I mean, the miracles that I get to see in ministry, so far surpassed soccer. And yet, the joy in soccer was very deep.” he explains.
Bradley works daily to impact people’s lives through ministry. When not working directly in the church, Bradley can be found spreading God’s message through his social media platforms. It was during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when he realized that many Americans were feeling hopeless. This is when his vision began to change.
Bradley had a strong desire to reach people around the world that he wasn’t able to reach. He started realizing his vision by appearing on multiple podcasts, which made way to even bigger audiences through radio and television. Bradley has grown a significant following and an engaged community through his platforms where he works to spread the hope and healing through the Gospel.
In his free time Bradley can be found spending time with his four children and wife, volunteering, and writing.
“Seeing people really experience hope and healing. I believe that God’s love is the greatest source of that.”