Joe Bradford is the inspiration for the new movie "Unconditional," which is in theaters on September 21. Bradford spoke to The Christian Post about his upbringing and his hope that the movie will serve as a call to action.
"I worked with at-risk children, and it was several unusual twists that got me to a certain point in my life. In the early 1980s I was one of the few original computer hackers- I had a knack for programming and tutored in computer languages. On a dare, at the end of school, hacked into a restricted banking system and didn't get to graduate … actually had to go to prison. Thought I would get out of it," Bradford explained.
In the movie, audiences are introduced to Bradford, who is played by Michael Ealy. It's the story of forgiveness, strength, and God's astonishing grace and love for each one of us. The movie centers on the story of a woman whose husband has been killed, seemingly out of the blue. As she copes with the loss, she struggles to find faith and hope again.
"As a character in the movie, 'Samantha' represents a childhood friend and the women who work with us in ministry. They're broken and start working with us, and the Lord just transforms their hearts. It all came together … about 90 percent of what you see of Papa Joe actually happened. 'Samantha' is a composite of brokenness turned to love, healing. She is connecting with women all over the country-n most people have been through things in their lives," Bradford explained.
As Samantha begins to heal, thanks in part to reconnecting with Bradford, she learns of the amazing work he is doing. Bradford and his wife Denise began helping the children in their community, supplying food, tutoring, and a safe space for them to go to.
"There were many challenges. Many kids lose their parents or deal with drug abuse. We fell in love with these children and started a ministry, started helping the children on our street. We took the walk of love and tried to see how many kids in the community needed help before getting the food to feed them, and then we would go out and collect food for them," he continued.
It was nothing short of God that brought Bradford's work to the attention of a producer, who immediately wanted to share his story with the world.
"It was a humbling experience to tell him everything, all the skeletons in my closet," Bradford noted.
The movie is "a call to action," Bradford explained. "The biggest reason I let them use my story is that it would have an effect on children across the country- you can find needy children everywhere in the world."
Bradford very happy with the way the movie turned out and was impressed by Ealy's portrayal of him.
"He's not only one of the best looking men on the face of the earth, he's a Christian. I got to spend time with him, and we bonded. The people on my ministry team couldn't believe how well he mimicked small things I did," Bradford recounted to CP.
"Unconditional" is in theaters September 21. To learn more about the movie, and about "Papa" Joe Bradford, visit www.unconditionalthemovie.com.