‘When God becomes real’: Bethel pastor opens up after being hospitalized for nervous breakdown

Bethel Music founder and worship pastor Brian Johnson described six months of going through the "hell" of severe panic and anxiety that hospitalized him after a nervous breakdown. But, as he told his kids when the ambulance arrived at their Redding, Calif. home: "This is when God becomes real."

Johnson, a father of four and husband to Jenn Johnson, who is also a lead worship pastor at Bethel Church, first shared about the dark side of his faith journey during a Sunday night service after his father, Pastor Bill Johson, asked him to do so. He recounted the painful journey in hopes that his story could help bring freedom to others.

It ended up getting hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.

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"There’s a major need. There’s a lot of people that feel alone, that feel the anxiety and depression. Seeing all the responses and testimonies, I decided to write the book," Johnson told Fox News on why he penned "When God Becomes Real," which hits bookshelves Tuesday.

"He’s been real my whole life, but there’s just something that happens when God rescues you and you know that you know that God did it," he added. "That’s why I wrote my story so that people can use that as an example in life, encouraging everyone to run after God."

Brian and Jenn Johnson, Bethel Music founders and senior worship pastors at Bethel Church in Redding, California.

Brian and Jenn Johnson, Bethel Music founders and senior worship pastors at Bethel Church in Redding, California. (Bethel Church Photography)

The worship leader -- who enjoys hunting and spending time with his family when he's not at church or writing songs -- found himself in one of the darkest times of his life in the middle of July 2015. He had lost control.

"When I think of hell, that’s what I think of," Johnson said. "Just an out of body...you’re out of control...I got so desperate, so broken really, and it was really a gift because God was my only option."

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He played worship music 24/7 around the house and read the Bible in the mornings. Throughout the process, he took medication but did not become addicted, and through a "sozo" healing with his wife, prayer, Bible reading, and more worship, he started to see light at the end of the tunnel.

"It felt like a miracle," he said. "God started speaking to me."

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And four years later, he said there's been a lot of fruit from that dark season of his life, and, of course, worship music.

He co-wrote "Living Hope" with Phil Whickham, and the song ended up being a reflection of what he went through.

"In desperation, I turned to heaven
And spoke Your name into the night
Then through the darkness, Your loving-kindness
Tore through the shadows of my soul
The work is finished, the end is written
Jesus Christ, my living hope."

The song "I Won't Forget" is all about his experience.

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In the middle of the breakdown his wife, Jenn, who kept things going and constantly encouraged him, wrote the song "You're Gonna Be OK," something he says to others struggling with anxiety and depression.

"Every time I talk to someone dealing with this stuff, I tell them, 'You're going to be OK,'" Johnson said.

His testimony is just one of many from the Bethel Music family that kicks off their Victory Tour Monday, traveling across the United States.

The Bethel Music family kicks off their "Victory Tour" Monday traveling across the states.

The Bethel Music family kicks off their "Victory Tour" Monday traveling across the states. (Bethel Music)

"All of our team went through different things this past year and everyone came out in the end in victory. We think it’s a theme for the nation and we’re going to highlight the victories and contend for victories in their life," he said. "We’re really rallying and we’re hoping to see miracles and see stories like mine where people are broken and turn them around."

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Johnson says every answer in life can be found by being alone with God.

"I have this passion to encourage people that are really going through it, the Word and worship, when you get desperate going after God with all you have, I really believe every answer in life is found in that," he said.