By Stephen Leonard
“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, for if you do these things, you will never stumble.” 2 Peter 1:10
Sixty years is a long time considering most of us live only a bit above three score years and ten, as the Bible puts it. Many of us live to experience just about three generations. Few of us even have great grandchildren and those who do do not usually get to see them graduate from high school or marry.
The Paul Anderson Youth Home is sixty years old! We celebrate sixty years of being on Saturday, October 23, 2021. There are very few institutions around with older birthdays. What does this tell us about those institutions and their longevity?
Longevity in institutional ministry takes something unique to accomplish. It takes a strong, indefatigable calling upon the founders. A calling which comes from the One who makes longevity possible; a calling which God makes Himself on a person’s heart, or in the case of the PAYH, on a couples’ heart.
Paul Anderson in 1956 made a promise just before he accomplished the lift which won him the Gold Medal in the Olympics being held in Melbourne, Australia. He told God he would serve Him with all of his life if He would help him get the necessary weight over his head to win. He kept that promise with God’s help. And he wedded his young wife Glenda to the same calling a few years later in 1959.
In 1961 Paul and Glenda in response to this calling began the Paul Anderson Youth Home. They called it the PAYH because God had enabled Paul’s name to become known all over the world. This afforded the Home great notoriety it would not have come by in any other manner.
To illustrate this, a decade or so ago a group of Russian people made a firmly requested side trip to Vidalia while visiting the United States on a tour. The reason for this is they wanted very much to see the Youth Home Paul Anderson had started and led from 1961. Why? Because Paul was revered in Russia ever since 1955 when he came to Moscow and St. Petersburg and astounded the Russian people with his weightlifting prowess. They called him then “chudo prirody“, a wonder of nature. Consequently, many Russians who witnessed it or were told about it have never forgotten.
In 2019, Glenda and Paula, Paul’s widow and daughter, toured Russia with their spouses, to see the venues where Paul had lifted before large crowds of Russian people. The Russian Weightlifting Federation welcomed them as VIP’s and hosted them with a celebratory dinner with numerous toasts to Paul and his family at the same Gorky Park in Moscow where Paul to much acclaim had beaten the Russian weightlifters in 1955.
This is all to say, that God’s calling on Paul and Glenda Anderson to begin and continue the Paul Anderson Youth Home for well over half a century was a calling of staying power. It was a calling of longevity. A calling which had to persevere through great challenges; challenges which could have finished the Home many times were it not for God keeping His calling firm in the hearts of Paul and Glenda. And He also continued that life call on Glenda after Paul’s home-going in 1994. She has been a “bull-dog” for God in continuing and growing the Home for these past 27 years.
Longevity in ministry requires God’s calling being confirmed over and over by Him in the hearts of His children. He calls, and then He confirms that call in those who remain faithful towards Him. There is no other reason for the longevity of this ministry except for this calling being confirmed and truly revered in two people’s hearts, and also in the hearts of those colleagues God sent to help them fulfill this calling.
These colleagues have been as faithful as God’s calling has been for Paul and Glenda. Their standing alongside of them in tireless ministry produces such longevity! This is why the Paul Anderson Youth Home is still today in the business of assisting the Lord Jesus Christ in transforming young men and boys for His eternal saving purposes. Soli Deo Gloria!
“Jesus calls us: by thy mercies, Savior, may we hear thy call, give our hearts to thine obedience, serve and love thee best of all.”
(5th verse of Cecil Francis Alexander’s hymn, “Jesus Calls Us,” 1852)