Jesse Bradley, a preacher at Grace Community Church in Auburn, Washington, is a former professional soccer player using his platform to reach tens of thousands with the Gospel.
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But Bradley, who recently shared how his World Cup outreach has led at least 18,000 to embrace Jesus, recalled how he came to Christ after spending his early years chasing “academics, athletics, and friends,” assuming these quests would lead to the “fullness of life.”
While studying at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, though, Bradley said everything changed.
“I didn’t believe in God,” the preacher said. “I come from a family that’s kinda like Baskin-Robbins, 31 flavors, spiritually. We’ve got a little of everything.”
Most of his family were either atheist or agnostic, with a mixture of some Jewish individuals, ex-Catholics, and others of divergent faiths.
Unsurprisingly, Bradley found himself without a spiritual identity.
He recalled taking a religion class, though, and despite the professor not being a believer, the course changed Bradley’s perspective and pointed him toward the Gospel.
“The professor tried to undermine the Scripture, but he assigned the Gospel of John,” he said. “And it was the first time I read the Bible, and it was different than any other book. And I started to learn about Jesus, and He had my attention.”
Around the same time, Bradley said he had a friend named Mike on the school’s track team who was living on the same floor in the dorms. Mike started asking Bradney questions about faith and life, which further sparked the athlete’s interest in Scripture.
“As I talked with Mike, he was patient,” Bradley said. “I had hundreds of questions, and he kept listening and just providing information about Jesus. It was true, it was reliable, it was documented.”
The historical evidence for the resurrection and the reliability of the Bible deeply resonated with Bradley.
“God started to engage my mind in that way,” he said.
Bradley had experienced success in every worldly way — yet he knew something was missing.
“I had success on the outside, checked every box, every goal,” he said. “And, yet, on the inside, I still felt empty.”
Mike’s conversations with him began to offer solace and truth and fill the missing voids. Bradley eventually embraced Christianity and went on to become a pastor.
Today, because of those patient conversations with Mike, Bradley is reaching thousands of others with the Gospel message — people who are lost like he once was and are looking for answers.
He’s now sharing his testimony in video form with World Cup fans and seeing a massive reaction.
“We’re able to create content where we share the Gospel. I share my story, and people are making decisions to follow Jesus,” he said. “We’re reaching millions of people. We’re seeing over 18,000 already make first-time decisions.”
Bradley told Faithwire it’s essential to create a safe place for people to process spiritual issues — something he had with Mike, and a dynamic he’s now offering digitally to others through his ministry.
“That’s why we tried to create that online, a safe place, you can ask questions,” Bradley said, noting this was the same process that ultimately brought him to Christ. “And as I was learning more about Jesus, it was really over the course of a year, and that emptiness inside led to a curiosity. And as I opened up and realized more, I put my trust in Jesus my sophomore year.”
Bradley said finding Christ changed everything.
“When I found this relationship with Jesus, my life changed on the inside out. I was able to forgive people,” he said. “I never forgave before. … I’d go to parties instead of drinking. I just had more joy than ever before and I was sober.”
Watch for more on Bradley’s story.
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