It was December 2016, and lead vocalist Dean Hopper was stressed out. He was responsible for scheduling dates for The Hoppers—his family’s award-winning Gospel music group—which was a frenzied task during their Christmas tour. And not only was he trying to finish a record for Bill Gaither, but Dean also had his own business, a workout gym that was costing more than it was making.
It was a recipe for stress-induced disaster.
The dizzy spells soon started. He was just about to go set up the sound equipment for The Hoppers’ next gig when he had the worst vertigo he’d ever experienced. He didn’t understand what was happening.
“The walls and the bookcases started to sway like a palm tree,” he says. “My brother and my daughter are looking at me like, ‘Are you OK?’ The next night, I was in my library office at home, and the bookcase started to sway again.”
The dizziness seemed to go away—at least for a little while. But then, while touring near the Rocky Mountains, the double vision came back, this time worse than before.
The Hopper family called their doctor, who warned them Dean might have had an aneurysm and told them to get to a hospital immediately. After some observation, the medical staff confirmed the cause: Dean had a stroke.
Actually, he had seven.
It turns out that a condition Dean was born with caused his tubular artery to clamp, restricting blood flow to his brain. While most people have two tubular arteries, Dean’s condition meant he only had one, and since it wasn’t working properly, doctors had to put a stent in.
Since then, Dean’s condition has greatly improved, but they still have to closely monitor his health situation. Recently, doctors discovered another artery that’s only at 75% capacity, so now they’re looking to fix that issue, too.
All these health problems could weigh Dean down. But he chooses to see them as an opportunity to let God minister to others.
“Through all of these life events that we face, you either trust God or you don’t. They’re still there,” he says. “If you can go through something and be encouraged—if you can triumph through that—you can be an encouragement to someone else.”
Dean doesn’t just apply this principle to his own health struggles, but to those of his family as well. His mother, beloved matriarch Connie Hopper, is a two-time cancer survivor. His father, Claude, suffered a stroke, and Dean’s wife, Kim, has battled her own set of health issues. Even his own children have gone through various struggles, starting when one daughter was born prematurely. And as a dad, Dean has to trust God to navigate through these challenges.
Through it all, Dean has learned an important truth: Whether he and his family are singing to a crowd of 4,000 people or a crowd of 40—each ministry opportunity matters.
“There’s always someone who needs encouragement or they’ve been through a trial or they’re going to a family issue—you don’t know what it is,” he says. “But God supernaturally knows what’s happening in people’s lives, and He uses you when you don’t know you’re being used. And that’s OK. I trust Him completely to help someone or encourage someone who’s trying to make a major decision in life or to trust and follow Christ.”
The only question that remains is: Will you trust God to use your trials to encourage others?
Come see The Hoppers perform live at 40 Days & 40 Nights of Gospel Music at the Ark Encounter. Tickets are going fast, so grab your family’s spots at 40daysofgospelmusic.com.