Payh Blog
Founders Day 2020
Nov 10, 2020

Paul Anderson Youth Home Honors Founders’ Memory and Heritage

Paul Anderson Youth Home Honors Founders’ Memory and Heritage
“The World’s Strongest Man” remembered for a foundation of faith during Founders’ Day celebration

(VIDALIA, GA) The staff and boys of the Paul Anderson Youth Home (PAYH) took a break from their schoolwork and daily routine to honor the legacy of Olympic gold medalist weightlifter Paul Anderson and to celebrate his and Glenda’s obedience to our Heavenly Father’s calling on their lives, to work with young men who made poor decisions and began a downward spiral.

Founded in 1961, PAYH is a Christian residential program and on-campus school dedicated to providing an alternative home setting and a positive opportunity for struggling young men between the ages of 16 and 21.

Held each October to commemorate Paul’s birthday, Founders’ Day is centered on prayer, feats of strength and group cooperation. A morning of prayer on the knoll where Anderson is buried was followed by an 11 a.m. brunch. In the afternoon, the young men split into teams for the physical activities.

Dubbed “The World’s Strongest Man,” Paul Anderson was as strong in faith as he was in body. He founded PAYH with his wife, Glenda Anderson, who continues to serve as President. They envisioned a Christ-centered residential refuge for young men with behavioral problems struggling with issues of discipline, substance abuse, anger and depression. To date, over 1,400 young men who have attended the accelerated learning, technical training and counseling program serve as testaments to the institution’s success.

“Each year this celebration reminds us of the bedrock we stand upon,” said Glenda Anderson. “Prayer was essential to Paul’s journey and to saving the lives of our boys. With the Home’s 60th anniversary just around the corner, our duty to Paul, and to the young men we serve, is to ensure it remains so.”

With a theme of rejuvenation, this year the young men were allowed to sleep in a bit before praying for the home’s residents, staff, families, devoted philanthropic partners, those affected by the coronavirus and the future of our world.

Following the service, the young men learned more about the history of PAYH from Eddie Burris, a former resident now serving as Director of Plant Operations. Along with his wife Betty, Vice President of Outreach and Compliance, they have worked at the home for over 50 years. After a mid-day meal, the day concluded with logrolling races, hurling weights and carrying stacks of bricks to spell out words.“There is nothing so restorative as prayer, reflection and physical activity,” said Glenda. “This is exactly how Paul would have wanted to be remembered.”


Founded in 1961 by weightlifting world champion Paul Anderson and his wife, Glenda, the Paul Anderson Youth Home (PAYH) is a Christian residential program and on-campus school for young men between the ages of 16 and 21 struggling with behavioral problems and issues of discipline, anger and depression. PAYH is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). In addition to counseling and character development, PAYH offers an accelerated learning program enabling residents to graduate with a high school diploma and technical certifications. To date, over 1,400 young men have attended the program. The Home is located at 1603 McIntosh St. in Vidalia, GA. To learn more about PAYH, call (912) 537-7237 or visit

Cynthia Cradduck
Cecilia Russo Marketing

  • Share Link:
Payh Blog
Oct 17, 2020

The Legacy of Paul Anderson

88 years ago today, a champion was born. After overcoming Bright’s Disease as a young child, Paul Anderson went on to win the 1956 Melbourne Olympics before founding the Paul Anderson Youth Home. This year, as we prepare to celebrate 60 years of operation, we look back and remember the life, legacy, and selfless sacrifice of our PAYH Founder.

  • Share Link:
Payh Blog
Paul Anderson
Jan 29, 2019

Paul Anderson: Strength Legend

Strength Legend

When Paul Anderson won his gold medal in 1956, he had a very real opportunity to use his fame to become wealthy. Instead, he gave up that opportunity and chose to spend his life serving others, founding PAYH in 1961. As Paul invested his life in God’s Kingdom, many others chose to become partners in this ministry over the years. Even now, 25 years after his passing, Paul’s legacy continues as we continue to see more troubled young men come to Christ. Through your support, lives are being changed for eternity!

  • Share Link:
Payh Blog
Feb 08, 2016

Thomasville Times Enterprise Writes on How Paul Anderson’s Strength Changed the World

I do not know if his records still stand, but, at one time, Paul Anderson was considered the strongest man in the world. He won a gold medal in the heavyweight division of the weight lifting competition in the 1952 Olympics. At that time, the Russians were dominant in the sport. His triumphal efforts set new records in the dead lift, the bench press and the squat. He was called a freak of nature by the Russian press.
In thinking about his designation as a freak, I consider him a freak of spiritual strength. Upon coming home to Georgia, he settled in Vidalia. He founded the Paul Anderson Youth Home for Boys. Through his efforts and the support of many, his magnificent desire to rehabilitate boys into strong Christian men became a reality.
It was my privilege to serve on his board of directors and to enjoy a personal friendship with him. It was not unusual to sit under the shade of a giant pecan tree in his yard and watch him work out with weights of outrageous pounds.
Paul Anderson came to Thomasville during my tenure as pastor of First Baptist Church. He spoke to our brotherhood. He shared his testimony and then did some feats of strength. I will never forget one very impressive lift was to allow eight big men to sit on a specially constructed table. He got under the table, put his back and shoulders against it and raised up 2,000 lbs. on his back.
As stunning as his physical strength was, his love for God and people was even stronger. He could have parlayed his physical power into many lucrative enterprises but he gave it all to God and God used him to change the world one life at a time.
He made our world a better place for us all.

Reposted from the Thomasville Times Enterprise, 02/04/2016, By Rev. Milton Gardner.

  • Share Link:
Payh Blog
Yoido full gospel church the World's Largest Megachurch on Yeouido island Seoul South Korea
Oct 19, 2015




  • Share Link:
Payh Blog
Millennium Cross on a top of the Vodno mountain hill above Skopje, Macedonia
Oct 17, 2015

Today in Georgia History Highlights the Life of Paul Anderson


Paul Anderson

October 17, 1932 – Toccoa map_mountains 

He was billed as the world’s strongest man and, during the Cold War, a convenient symbol of American power.
Paul Anderson was born in Toccoa, Georgia and overcame Bright’s disease as a child.   A football scholarship got him to Furman University, but he quit and began lifting weights instead.
Anderson discovered that he had extraordinary leg strength.  He could squat more than 400 pounds.  He used a safe filled with concrete for training.
In the 1952 Tennessee state meet, he broke all heavyweight records in the press, snatch, and clean and jerk. At a competition in Moscow, he became the first man in history to press more than 400 pounds. The Russians called him “a wonder of nature” — a symbolic American victory in the trenches of the Cold War.
The 5-foot-9, 350-pound Anderson won the World Championship in 1955 and an Olympic gold medal at the Melbourne Games in 1956. The man known as “the Dixie Derrick returned as a conquering hero to Toccoa, where he was born on October 17, 1932, Today in Georgia History.
View original article here.

  • Share Link:
Payh Blog
Apr 27, 2015

PAYH Featured in FCA Magazine

Paul Anderson was a strong man with a gentle heart. Once known as the world’s strongest man, Anderson performed strength exhibitions at FCA Conferences in the 1960s and 70s and shared that life in Christ was more important to him than lifting.
Anderson may be best known for his 1956 Olympic performance, where he competed while extremely ill with a 104-degree temperature. Between popping handfuls of Aspirin to break the fever so officials would let him compete, he prayed for God to pull him through his next lift, which was for not only gold, but for an Olympic record. In the middle of his third and final lift attempt, he recognized God’s involvement in his life, recommitted himself to the Kingdom, and completed the grueling lift. Paul got gold; God got Paul.
While his physical and faith feats may be his strong suit, what people may not know about Paul Anderson is the home for troubled boys he started with his wife Glenda. When they married in 1959, Paul was aspiring to use his talents and position wherever God wanted him, drawing closer to the needs of young men at risk.
Asked to speak at a reformed school in North Georgia where young men mixed with criminals, he began to develop a concern for these wayward youth. The Lord laid it upon his heart to give them hope in the form of what would become the Paul Anderson Youth Home.
Founded in 1961, the home provides rehabilitation for young men between the ages of 16-21 in need of complete restoration. The home’s verse is Luke 2:52, to develop each young man to wholly grow in stature, as Jesus did.
Young men in the home build character through rigorous physical exercise, daily Bible study and scripture memorization, school work and a strong work ethic. They become family, cared for with love and structure.
“The main reason we’re there is to teach them about Jesus Christ, Glenda said. “The call on our lives has been to teach them, require them to do memory work. The Holy Spirit has to be the one that transfers that from their head to their heart.
Anderson, the goodwill ambassador and gold medalist, used his position of celebrity to champion the cause of at-risk youth and did so with a relentless enthusiasm and effort, sometimes driving for days to various venues with very little sleep. He’d do an event, drive back home to Vidalia, get a quick 3-4 hours of sleep and then head back on the road for the next demonstration.
The Andersons’ course in life was not easy or glamourous, though it appeared so to the regular observer. Paul would be gone every day, at long and odd hours, driving and speaking to high schools, churches and banquets. They always worked hard, but God continued to provide, including a connection with FCA.
Next to his family and the youth home, he invested his heart and time into young athletes looking for influence in the face of their coach. He believed if kids could get active in the organization, they’d have a far greater chance of being successful and resisting temptation.
Young athletes flocked to his performances, waiting to see the wonders he’d do with weight. He would put on displays of his strength to awestruck athletes, only to admit that he “can’t get through a minute of the day without Jesus Christ.
Glenda expressed a grateful heart to all who have partnered with them through the years, including Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy, and many old FCA friends.
“Oftentimes people want to pour out the kudos on how wonderful it’s been for Paul and me to do, but we’ve been the ones who have been blessed, Glenda said of their life’s work. “That investment in his life has returned to us manifold.
Paul Anderson passed away in 1994, but left a legacy that keeps going to this day. His service to God has been greater than all the feats of strength in this world.

View the original article here.

  • Share Link:
Payh Blog
Nov 17, 2014

Build Something Bigger Than Record-Setting Strength

Copyright 2014 by Bill Ingram and Faith & Fitness Magazine. Used by permission.
View original article here.

An interview with with Paul Anderson Youth Home fitness director Bill Ingram.


PUBLISHER’S NOTE: I first learned of Paul Anderson while doing research on people that have a reputation for doing the dead lift. You’ll find it useful to first read the following excerpt from before you proceed to PAGE 2, my interview with Bill Ingram. it offers a good foundation of how God used Paul’s talents (his physical strength), and his commitment to serve God to make a difference for generations of hurting teenagers and their families. Now, young men grow physically and spiritually in the shadow of a man who discovered how humbling yourself and raising up God’s purpose is the greatest strength you can ever have.
In 1956, Paul weighed well over 350 pounds; his neck size was 24 inches; his biceps were over 24 inches, his chest 58 inches, and his thighs were 36 inches. In the best condition and form of his life, Paul was ready for the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. All the experts of the day believed that Paul merely had to show up to win the Olympic gold medal.
Paul and his teammates arrived in Melbourne, Australia 18 days before the lifting competition. Shortly after his arrival, Paul began to feel feverish and unsteady but he could not pinpoint the reason. Less than two weeks before the competition, he awoke in the middle of the night burning with fever. He was treated by a doctor but for twelve days the fever raged as his body weight dropped by 30 pounds. He felt miserable and weak. There was constant talk of sending him back to the States since no one could determine what was wrong.
Three days before the competition, the doctors told Paul that he would not be able to lift and that they could not allow a man in his condition to compete. Paul asked the doctors to postpone their decision until the last possible moment and they agreed. Without the doctors’ consent, Paul put himself on four aspirins every three hours. The aspirins did bring the fever down and by the morning of the day he was scheduled to lift, November 25, 1956, his temperature was nearly normal. The concerned professionals said they would not forbid Paul’s competing if he would agree to take all responsibility.Power lifting
The super-heavyweights were scheduled to lift at 8 p.m. but the meet was far behind schedule. Paul’s first lift arrived around 1 a.m. The effects of the aspirins had worn off and his fever had returned. Feeling dizzy and cold, he perspired profusely. Paul held on with each lift but was trailing behind an Argentine lifter in the point count. At 3:30 a.m., he approached the platform for his final lift. He had three chances to successfully make this lift. He would have to break the existing Olympic record to win the Gold.
On his first attempt he tried to drive the bar overhead but never got it past his chin. The bar crashed to the floor and the arena was silent except for the echo.
For his second attempt, he rushed to the bar and pulled it to his chest. The weight felt heavier than before, the bar rumbled to the floor and he stomped away, bitterly disappointed. Paul waved his teammates away as they rushed to encourage him.
As he contemplated the possibilities of losing, his mind raced. He used his officially allotted rest period of three minutes to walk up a long, dark corridor. Paul felt as if God was reminding him of everything He had ever done for him. God had made him what he was. Everything Paul had accomplished had been because God had let him survive Bright’s disease as a child. God had given him loving Christian parents. In spite of these countless blessings, Paul had ignored God.
He found it impossible to pray. He tried twice but his heart was hardened by ignoring God for so long. At this lowest point in his life, a point to which many people must come before they realize a need for God; Paul recognized how unworthy he was of Christ’s love. He then returned for his third attempt at the lift.
The arena was silent. When Paul pulled the weight to his chest, he knew immediately that it was futile. He couldn’t put it overhead. Now he was desperate. In a split second, he found that he could be sincere with God. As quickly as the words raced through his heart and mind, he told the Lord he was aware of all that had been given him and he had returned nothing. Paul continued by pledging to God that he wanted to be part of His kingdom and from here on out; he was making a real commitment. Then Paul realized his immediate need and said, “I’m not trying to make a deal, Lord, no deals, but I must have Your help to get this weight overhead. Paul made a true commitment to serve God for the rest of his life. He gave the final push and drove the bar overhead, and it stayed. The crowd went wild as Paul returned the bar to the floor. He suddenly was the Olympic Gold Medalist.

Power liftingIf I, Paul Anderson, the World’s Strongest Man, can not make it through one day without Jesus Christ, how can you?

In his autobiography, A Greater Strength, Paul remembered the smile on his face that early morning was not as much for the joy of victory or the relief the ordeal was over but for his new relationship with Christ.  “What he had really won was not an Olympic Championship measured by the poundages of man but the strength of God’s Holy Spirit.
Throughout the remainder of Paul’s life, he would share his faith by saying that it was a tremendous thrill to win the Olympic Gold Medal for his country and to stand on the winner’s platform as the national anthem was played and the American flag was raised. He would continue on by sharing that the greatest thrill in his life was knowing Jesus Christ as his personal Savior; and “If I, Paul Anderson, the World’s Strongest Man, can not make it through one day without Jesus Christ, how can you?

Read more

  • Share Link:
Payh Blog
Nov 17, 2014

Build Something Bigger Than Record-Setting Strength page 2

Copyright 2014 by Bill Ingram and Faith & Fitness Magazine. Used by permission. View original article here.

Bill Ingram is the Fitness Director at the Paul Anderson Youth Home.
In this interview he shares how he got involved in this ministry, the role fitness plays at the home, the transformations youth experience there and how he feels you too can Be Life to others through fitness.
Faith & Fitness Magazine: What kind of an impression has Paul made in your life? What do you feel are his biggest enduring life messages?
Bill IngramBill Ingram:  The biggest impression on my life is Paul Anderson’s testimony, his wife Glenda’s love of Jesus, their selflessness in starting the Paul Anderson Youth Home (PAYH) in 1961 and faithfully continuing until Paul’s home going in August 1994.  Glenda continues to actively serve as president of the PAYH.
God used a PAYH alumni’s testimony to impact my life.  In 1993, I was a freshman in college searching for truth and trying to determine if God could help me with the chaos in my life.  I decided to attend a Christian retreat weekend for college students.
At the last minute, an upperclassman joined us on the three-hour car ride to the retreat.  As I sat there listening to his enthusiasm about his relationship with Jesus Christ and what God was doing in his life, my first impression was that he must have led the perfect life. There was no way he could understand the despair and agony I felt in my heart.
Paul Anderson Youth HomeAs I quietly listened to him go on and on about what God was teaching and doing in his life, I noticed a distinctive ring on his finger.  It was a silver ring, flat on top, with a man lifting a barbell over his head.  I asked him about it, and he replied, Oh man, this is from the Paul Anderson Youth Home.  Let me tell you what God did in my life there.
He went on to tell me about being a troubled adolescent who was nothing like the choirboy/youth group leader that I had pictured in my mind.  He was given the opportunity by a judge to attend PAYH rather than serve time in jail on drug and burglary charges.  All of a sudden, the difficulties of my life seemed to pale in comparison to his.  If God could change him, He could change and help me.  I went into the retreat with a changed perspective.
That weekend, I committed my life to Christ.  This PAYH alum had no idea that God had used his experiences at the Youth Home to give me the exact message that I needed to hear at the exact moment that I needed to hear it.

 “Grab it and growl.  This was Paul’s mentality when lifting.  It was also his analogy to dealing with obstacles in life.  When there is a task to be accomplished, get to it.

physical fitness activitiesFaith & Fitness Magazine: Describe the physical fitness activities at the Paul Anderson Youth Home. What makes it such an important part of the over all ministry?
Bill Ingram: For over 50 years, the boys have started each day with a one-mile run.  For a new boy who has just arrived at the home, has not been very active or has damaged his health due to drugs or alcohol, this activity can be very difficult.  As his body adapts to the new routine, it simply becomes something he does everyday.
Physical Education classes are held year round.  In P.E. they learn how to develop well-rounded fitness.  Increases are quickly made in cardio-respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, speed, power, flexibility, coordination, accuracy and agility.  They do high intensity workouts combining gymnastics, weightlifting and traditional cardio exercises.
physical fitness activitiesFrom the early days of the home, there has been a model of growth based on the Bible passage, “Jesus grew in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and men. This emphasizes mental, physical, spiritual and social development.  The physical fitness activities help in all four areas.
Anatomy and Physiology classes teach the underlying structure and function of the human body and how it relates to their performance in the gym. They learn the importance of goal-setting, perseverance and overcoming obstacles.  The increased self-confidence makes them more comfortable in social settings.  Another big component in the fitness program is encouraging one another to push harder and finish the workout.

Paul Anderson’s physical feats and tremendous faith in God have inspired me to mold myself into a man who can support a family, take care of his brothers, and live a life after Christ. For me it motivates me towards a life of ministry, of helping others and spreading the gospel. Physical attentiveness, laid out by Paul, is huge here. I spend most nights in the weight room and three mornings a week in a physical education class. Running in the morning has multiple purposes. As do devotionals at the breakfast table and Bible studies in the classroom. The Youth Home has made me feel like I can go down any path I want to for my future. It gives me the confidence to set my sights on anything, physically and spiritually and provide help to others.

– Chase, PAYH resident

physical fitness activitiesFaith & Fitness Magazine: What kinds of physical development have some of these boys achieved while being at the home? Have any of your alumni gone on to have careers in fitness, wellness or other related fields?
Bill Ingram: A common example is a boy comes to the Home as a sickly 125 pound young man and will leave the program as a lean and muscular 175 pound young man. The overweight couch potato sheds body fat and gains stamina and endurance . The average graduate can do over 20 pullups, run a 6 minute mile, and squat over 300 pounds.
physical fitness activities
Each year the Youth Home does a bike ride fundraiser where several of the boys will ride a bicycle over 500 miles in a week.  Their level of fitness makes training for such an event quicker and easier.

[Look for more about the 2015 Cycling Challenge in the Pedal, Race & Run department of Shout! Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine.]

The Youth Home boys participate in several 10k and 5k road races each year, consistently taking top spots in the overall and age group placings.  The Youth Home sent four boys to participate in a Spartan Race (a 5 mile course with numerous obstacles to overcome) and as a team, they took 1st place out of 250 teams with very little specialized training.  The well-rounded inclusive fitness the boys develop gives them the fitness foundation to pursue whatever sports they are interested in.
physical fitness activitiesFaith & Fitness Magazine: What is the most significant spiritual transformations you see in these young men?
Bill Ingram: The most significant spiritual transformation in any young man is when he comes to faith in Jesus Christ. In the history of the PAYH, thousands of young men have come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  These young men have been used by God to touch countless number of people around the world. [See below for The Ripple Effect Of Change, the story and video of Billy.]

What really sets Paul Anderson apart from most is that a man who could have potentially had untold fame and fortune, laid it all aside to follow Christ and start a Youth Home which has impacted thousands of families.

Jesse, PAYH resident

Faith & Fitness Magazine: How is working at the Paul Anderson Youth Home different from doing your Cross Fit business? In what ways have you learned to minister to people at your gym as a result of doing ministry with these boys?
coach and personal trainerBill Ingram: As a coach and personal trainer, you have to care about the whole person.  You can’t just be concerned with their squat technique; you have to deal with their emotional stresses, nutrition, relational issues–you have to be prepared to be a trainer, counselor, and cheerleader.
Many times I would have high level athletes come in and just be “off.  Their energy levels would be low, their countenance would be different and their performance was not up to their normal output.  I would just stop them in mid workout, ask questions, and then listen.  Coaches who can teach squats are everywhere.  Coaches that demonstrate a deep concern for the whole person are harder to find.
happy kidsFaith & Fitness Magazine: What opportunities do you think there are for other power lifters, bodybuilders, personal trainers or other fitness professionals and enthusiast to follow the example of Paul Anderson and his wife and establish a ministry?
Bill Ingram: I think that Paul’s greatest example is not the physical gifts and talents that he possessed, but how he used those talents to serve others.
If God has given you a passion for movement, lifting, or fitness; I believe that there are unlimited opportunities to use those gifts to serve him in unique ways by helping others. Your “ministry “may be to help others become physically well, learn to set and accomplish goals, or just to have more energy to play with the kids.  This happens by building relationships and genuinely caring for those you train.  These relationships provide the context for sharing spiritual truths with others.

  • Share Link:
Payh Blog
Father And Son Praying Under The Cross
Oct 09, 2014

Father's Prayer

Father’s Prayer

To be a good father to those who look to me I have so often craved and yearned.
And only from You, Oh Father of fathers, can this great lesson be received and
successfully learned.

I want to lead my flock in the path that is good, noble, and true.
This, my Lord, I know that You alone can so wisely teach me how to do.

It is my desire to reflect Your will in all that I think and that I say.
How can I accomplish this, Oh my God, for my feet are surely made of sand and clay.

But in trying to guide a child of my own, I would certainly be at a total loss,
Without the guidance of your Son’s steps from the manger to His sacrificial cross.

Get a free Paul Anderson Poster!
[survey id=2840 height=650]

  • Share Link:
Get Involved Background Image

Get Involved

This ministry has endured for almost 60 years because God has blessed us with faithful partners. Through friends like you, He ensures that we have the help we need to accomplish our mission. Click the button below to learn more, whether you’re interested in volunteering, making a one-time gift, or becoming a monthly contributor.