Paul Anderson won the gold medal in powerlifting at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and instantly became a global icon as the strongest man in the world. Anderson broke the stranglehold lifters from Russia had on the sport, and Anderson became a symbol of the Cold War.
Because of his sheer strength, ordinary workout equipment was useless, so he built his own gym out of automobile axles, driveshafts, buckets, barrels, and two-by-fours that he salvaged from junkyards.
He used his celebrity to tour the world, put on exhibitions, and talk about his muscular Christian faith. He was invited to speak and perform in reformatories, facilities designed to rehabilitate males who had gotten in trouble with the law. Anderson discovered to his shock that teenage boys were being housed with experienced adult criminals in these facilities, which created possibilities for all the wrong kind of mentoring. He began to imagine a Christian youth home which would take boys out of bad situations and allow them to grow into healthy, strong, morally-centered men in a far better environment.
He and his wife founded the Paul Anderson Youth Home (PAYH) in Vidalia, Georgia, in 1961 on 50 acres of donated land. To raise money for this fledgling shelter, Anderson went on a well-publicized bike ride from Vidalia to Omaha, Nebraska. One of his first stops was at a restaurant outside Atlanta called the Dwarf House, run by a young restaurateur Truett Cathy. Inspired by Anderson’s vision, Truett Cathy made the first donation to get the ministry off the ground and then served on the PAYH board for many years after that.
In the PAYH, no more than 20 young men between the ages of 16 and 21 are in residence at any one time, most of them bringing drug and alcohol problems with them. These young men stay for an average of 18 months, by the end of which 90% of them become drug-and-incarceration-free and finish high school. Many go on to college.
Billy McClaron is just one example. At age 16, he was facing a 20-year prison sentence when he arrived at PAYH. He got clean and sober, invited Christ into his life, and today runs a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Florida. As a monthly financial supporter, he says PAYH “gave me a second chance, hope, a family and the Holy Spirit. They saved my life.”
One of the annual fundraisers still to this day is a 500-mile bike ride to commemorate the ride on which Paul Anderson met Truett Cathy for the first time. Truett Cathy was part of the Paul Anderson Youth Home almost from day one. In 1999, the Truett Cathy Office Complex was built in his honor.
Well, thanks to Dan Cathy, Truett Cathy’s son, other Billy McClarons may miss the chance to be transformed at PAYH. Dan Cathy just recently dumped the Paul Anderson Youth Home as a Chick-fil-A recipient, throwing his father’s legacy under the train in favor of Covenant House.
Covenant House is a Christian-in-name-only outfit that celebrates homosexuality, lesbianism, and transgenderism with the vulnerable youth who seek shelter there, and seeks to convince them that such sexual deviancy is perfectly normal.
According to its website, “It’s critical that Covenant House, the largest provider of services to youth facing homelessness in the Americas, ensure that our houses are welcoming, affirming, and safe for LGBTQ youth.” “Affirming,” of course, means that non-normative sexual lifestyles are treated as quite normal, and vulnerable young men are acclimatized to behavior that in many cases will leave them diseased and dead.
The PAYH website says this, “True legacies are not built on media hype. They are built on tenacious faith, unshakeable commitment, and impeccable character that befit Paul Anderson’s Lord and Savior: Jesus Christ: The One he served.”
Tragically, with one devastating decision, Dan Cathy has dishonored the memory of his own father and has honored behavior which is an abomination in the eyes of the Lord. It’s a long way back from there.
The author may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org