A Special Movie Day Event

Denise Bradford

Story by Denise Bradford, co-founder of Elijah’s Heart and wife of Papa Joe

On Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012, D3 Entertainment sponsored a “movie day event,” giving over a hundred children from Nashville’s inner city the opportunity to see Unconditional in the theater.

The heart behind the film, Unconditional, is to raise awareness about children, like the ones who were invited on this day, who are desperately searching for hope, acceptance and value. This special event, a cooperative effort by multiple organizations, was meant to be a gift of kindness and loving affection toward these children. The experience and the responses were truly mind-blowing!

Initially, Elijah’s Heart was asked to invite the Unity Choir and other children from the low-income communities we reach, but Papa Joe felt led to include children being served by other inner-city ministries in the Nashville area as well. Youth from Rocketown, Youth Life Learning Center with Yolanda Shields, Family Affair with Pastor Glenda Gleaves Sutton, and various YMCA programs with Amber Jackson were thrilled to participate.

The day began with the children being picked up from their communities and bussed to the theater together. When the children arrived, they were greeted with love and received popcorn, drinks and candy to enjoy during the film…all graciously provided by Mt. Zion Baptist Church and Bishop Joseph Warren Walker, III.

As the film began…as I sat in that theater, I could feel the tangible presence of a loving Father filling the atmosphere. It was like waves of peace, comfort and healing sweeping through each row…flowing over the children who were so deeply engaged in the story and its message of hope and unconditional LOVE.

As they watched, the children and adult chaperones laughed, shouted in excitement and cried at the dramatic representation of the life of their “Papa Joe.” By the end, the young ones were cheering like we were watching a football game and our team had won!

After the film, I had a chance to speak with a few children about their experience. Many of them said they were thrilled to see themselves actually in the movie (the producers had cast a number of inner-city children in the film). Others, having learned more about their “Papa Joe,” felt special to get to be in his life and to be loved by him. Without exception, they all said they loved the movie and a few even declared their favorite parts were… “EVERYTHING!”

For many of them, the movie hit very close to home. During a scene where the young boy asked Papa Joe to be his dad, an Elijah’s Heart team member said she could hear a little boy behind her crying and his words, “I know what it feels like…to not have a dad.”

There was one man who came along who was an actual father of a child who was cast as one of “Papa Joe’s kids” in the film. Before he said a word to me about his experience, I could tell he was blown away and very deeply affected. With a smile from ear-to-ear, he explained to me how he never opens up to anyone about the time he had spent in prison. But after seeing that Papa Joe had a similar experience, he felt connected with him. He was not only inspired but was given a sense of hope that penetrated through his heart, overriding the feelings of failure and rejection. He told me he now felt there was hope for a future in spite of his prison background. Sounds to me like yet another incredible story in the making!

On the way home, one of the bus drivers reported how much she enjoyed listening to the kids talking about some of the exciting highlights of the movie. They were raving over the fight scenes, the suspense and mystery. One of the adult chaperones on the bus asked them their take on the whole point of the movie…and with ONE, collective voice, they ALL yelled, “LOVE EVERYBODYYYYY!!!” The bus driver was so moved she almost cried as she told me. She exclaimed, “They got it…they really got it!”

I could go on and on about that day. There was no mistaking the loving presence of God intimately saturating even such a public place. The hand of the Father caressed the hearts of these precious, captivated children…and even the adults. I am forever thankful for the producers and director/writer for allowing their gifts to be used by God. Blessings upon this film…BLESSINGS upon the hearts opened to receive the anointing that flows from it.

And the fruit of reaching out to other organizations was a remarkable sign of unity – a sign that was witnessed by all the leaders involved. They unanimously agreed that this is just the beginning of more cross-organization events to come.

In closing, I can tell you with certainty that this movie will indeed have a lasting impact on all those who saw it…and that this wonderful day will be one I will never forget.

New School Uniforms and a One-of-a-Kind House

Check out this amazing testimony of God’s provision that was captured by Nicky, a leading member of our Family Relations Team:

About 2 years ago, I received a call from a woman who was living in one of the communities we serve through Elijah’s Heart. She and her husband have 10 children, ranging from ages 2 to 17 (most of them currently sing in our Unity Choir.)

Over the phone, she sounded totally distraught as she explained to me that they were being evicted from their home. She had lost her job due to a major flood in Nashville, and her husband’s business had grown stagnant. They had nearly exhausted all methods of acquiring funds and didn’t have enough money left to pay rent. They had to move as soon as possible but had no place to go.

I began to pray and asked the Lord to do a miracle for this family and to supply their need for housing.

A few days later, the mother called me with news that a lady with property was going to show her a place that could potentially be affordable. The house had just recently been vacated and had not been completely cleared of the previous tenants belongings.

When she viewed the house, she was surprised to see the mailbox had been painted with the name: “Papa Joe.” The biggest surprise, however, came when she entered the house and noticed the pictures hanging on the wall. In her words:

“My eyes became as big as the sun! I couldn’t believe it! There were pictures of MY children! Seven of them!!”

The property owner explained that the house had been used for the filming of a movie over the last few weeks. The movie was called “Unconditional” and was about the life of a man named “Papa Joe Bradford.” The mother said she did her best to hold back tears, to stay composed.  She told the lady that she knew Papa Joe and not only that, but those were her kids in the pictures on the wall! She said they have been “Papa Joe’s kids” for years.

The lady was so moved by the mother’s story, the pictures on the wall and the children that she lowered the suggested price of the rent to a price that was nearly half the amount of the mother’s previous residence. She said they could move in immediately.

The mother said of that moment:

“I felt as light as a feather leaving that place. I just knew the Lord was guiding my direction, and I will try my best to always follow Him.”

This was such a testimony for them…but the Lord had not finished being a provider.

Just a few weeks ago, the mother let me know the family didn’t have the finances to purchase school uniforms for all the children. If you are a kid going to public school, this is a big deal. The Lord cares about even this, and He provided! Elijah’s Heart was able to bless her family with brand new school uniforms: white shirts, khaki shorts, pants and skorts. Each child received 5 complete sets!

The mother was deeply touched, saying:

“Thank you so much. I was thrown through a loop when I saw all the uniforms. You would not believe how helpful this is to me. Thank you! They looked so neat going to school this morning. I know the Lord is building my faith and my spirit so I can face my trials and tribulations with triumph.”

Thank you for your support and prayers and enabling us to touch lives such as these. If you have a heart to join with us in our mission to aid those in need, please make a donation today!

Coming Soon to DVD and Blu-ray…

Unconditional” the movie was inspired by true events in the life of Papa Joe Bradford and his wife, Denise. Click here to sign up to be notified about its DVD/Blu-ray release date and/or to sign up if you are interested in a site license. Please tell all your friends and family about this powerful and entertaining movie. Through this film, the Lord has already moved many people into joining with us on our mission to rescue helpless children from urgent conditions caused by poverty, hunger, poor education and other devastating oppressions. Join with us!


Release Date
Coming Soon to DVD and Blu-ray
Harbinger Media Partners
Lynn Collins, Michael Ealy & Bruce McGill
Directed By
Brent McCorkle
Written By
Brent McCorkle
Produced By
Jason Atkins, J. Wesley Legg, John Gray, Darren Moorman & Papa Joe