Rev. Charles "Chuck" Dewease, pastor of the First Pentecostal Church of Youngston, is not ashamed to tell anyone his weight.
"I'm a little over 415 pounds and proud of it." He says.
About ten years ago while reading the book of 1 Timothy, Dewease came under "intense conviction" when he read 1 Timothy 4:8a which says, "For bodily exercise profiteth little." Since that day Dewease has made it a point to avoid any and all manner of exercise, intentionally gaining a tremendous amount of weight to show his "conviction."
"I've never been what you might call a 'small man.'" Said Dewease. "But ten years ago my life changed. It was a liberating and freeing experience when I read that verse in 1 Timothy. I never much cared for diet and exercise, but when I read those words my heart just leaped for joy! I knew that I didn't have to worry about it anymore."
Now, Dewease no longer concerns himself about what he eats. His breakfast often consists of a large six-egg omelet with cheese, ham and sausage, four or five biscuits with gravy, a large serving of grits, and 8 strips of bacon. During the day he usually keeps a large stash of snack foods and soft drinks in his office. For lunch he normally eats out.
"I love fried chicken." He said. "There's a local place just down the road called "Claire's Cafe" that makes the best you'll ever eat, and I go there just about every day. They all know me. I just walk in and say 'I'll have the usual' and they bring me my ten-piece family meal with baked beans and potato salad."
Dewease does not concern himself with how people might look at him but rather refers to his obesity as his "testimony to godliness," claiming that the larger he gets, the more he displays himself as one who is not concerned with bodily exercise.
"What I'm doing is found right there on the pages of the Bible." He said. "This is how we are all supposed to be living our lives, not spending time at the gym. I don't have time for that. With so much sinning going on in this world, with so much alcohol and tobacco use in my own community, I've got my work cut out for me. This is a holy pursuit."
Despite Dewease's passion for "holy pursuits" some members of his own congregation are concerned about his weight.
"I just think he needs to slow down a bit." Said one member who wished to remain anonymous. "He's going to keel over with a heart attack one day."
But despite the criticism Dewease is unwaivering.
"I don't care what anybody says." Said Dewease. "They can mock me, ridicule me, and scoff, but it is better to obey the Bible rather than men."