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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

AGTV video
Connections: Ken and Austin Andrews

Biggest Losers

Ken Andrews is pastor of Pasadena (Calif.) Christian Center (AG). He and his son, Austin, were contestants on the 11th season of the weight-loss television program The Biggest Loser. Ken and Austin visited with Pentecostal Evangel Editor Ken Horn at this year’s Assemblies of God General Council in Phoenix.

evangel: Ken, you have a bit of a different story for an Assemblies of God pastor. Tell us, Ken, why you both needed to be on Biggest Loser and how that came about.

KEN: I had become a spiritual hermit, pastoring my flock and caring for them yet staying within the four walls of my church. At over 400 pounds, I didn’t really get out into the community. We needed to make a change. Then the opportunity arose for us to go on Biggest Loser, and I decided I would rather die trying to change than stay the way I was.

AUSTIN: It came down to the fact that we were both, at one point, over 400 pounds, and we saw that it really prevented us from being healthy in our own lives as well as healthy in our church.

evangel: Talk to us about where you started, what your weight was and what the whole process was like.

KEN: Before we started, I weighed about 413 pounds, and I had started trying to lose some weight. So by the time I’d gotten on the show, I was at 377. During the first workout, I passed out. I woke up with my feet in ice buckets; it was that difficult, that harsh. But I continued to work hard. And to be honest, I was there initially for my son. I wanted him to be able to change his life.

AUSTIN: For me, I had struggled with self-worth all my life. I’m a pastor’s kid, and there’s never been alcohol in our house. But when I was 12 years old, I went to the pediatrician. He looked at me and said, “Why do you have a beer belly?”

It was at that moment I started thinking, This is how people view me? Kids my age had already been calling me names, and I was dealing with bullying. Then all of a sudden I’m a 12-year-old identifying myself as an obese person.

All through high school I struggled to see myself as something valuable. And it went that way until I got on the show. That’s when I decided I was going to do the weight loss. And God really started to do a work. About halfway through the process, He really showed me that I am valuable — not because I’m such a great human being or have accomplished so much. I’m valuable because the God of the universe created and designed me.

evangel: What happened in your relationship as father and son during this process?

AUSTIN: It was tense at times — a 21-year-old rooming with his father for five months. We’re both big personalities, and we expressed that by yelling at each other. But the show really brought a cohesiveness in us.

KEN: Physically, I couldn’t even get up. I couldn’t get dressed. Before Biggest Loser, the focus of my family was to take care of me. And so when I went home on our break at Christmas, my wife started to take my luggage, and I was able to tell her, “No, you don’t have to carry my luggage anymore.”

We began to realize that before the show the whole family was built around trying to take care of me and my physical needs. So in a sense our whole relationship transformed.

AUSTIN: We were able to be honest. Before the show, there were many times that an argument would erupt over something petty. But the true cause of the argument was deeply rooted in our own insecurities and our own distrust of who we were. Through the show we were able to get to a point of honesty with one another, and trust one another. So much of our weight loss was happening because we were able to work together, change together and change our family together.

KEN: Part of the experience of transformation had to do with each of us having an initial encounter with God where He said, I am here to change you, and this is going to revolutionize your life. That transformation didn’t happen in a moment. It was hard work. Up early, out in the morning air, running, walking, doing what we needed to do, and working through not only physical pain and the issues we were dealing with, but also the spiritual and the emotional health we needed to find in Christ.

evangel: How much weight did each of you lose?

KEN: I lost a total of 158 pounds on the show.

AUSTIN: I lost 174 pounds on the show.

evangel: I know you both lost more weight after the show ended. What else has happened in your lives since then?

AUSTIN: Now that we’ve been off for several months, so much of our focus is realizing that this transformation we’ve been through leads us to a point of discipline — and we have to be disciplined in every aspect of life.

So many of our churches are focused on spiritual discipline — and they should be. But you also have to be disciplined in your personal life, and that includes health. For us personally, we have to be disciplined people, recognizing every day that we must make choices and decisions on what we’re going to eat and how we’re going to spend our time.

KEN: Another issue for me, being a pastor and being obese, was that I was living a virtual life. I was on the computer. I was on Facebook. I was playing computer games, watching television, all of that stuff. By going on Biggest Loser, I began to learn that real life is so much better than virtual life.

evangel: What would you say to someone going through a problem similar to what you both faced?

KEN: A year ago I thought the best years of my life were behind me. I had taken a small church, and we worked that church until it was healthy. I concluded that this was the greatest thing I was going to do; the rest of my life was downhill.

I want people to know that with God you can overcome every issue. Think about one part of your life that, if it changed now, would result in your life being different a year from now. That’s the very thing that can change. God gives us hope to believe. God helped me lose 194 pounds, and my life will never be the same. And you can do it too.

AUSTIN: And it’s not just weight. The spiritual strongholds that hold you back can be emotional weight or addiction. Whatever it is, God wants to be moving in your life. We’re talking about the whole person.

KEN: Let’s not just settle for what we have. Let’s press on and realize all that God has for us.



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