Joshua Eldridge

In May 2016, after a long battle with multiple health issues, I faced the tragedy of losing my father suddenly to suicide. The grief was overwhelming.

A lifetime of automatic defensive behaviors kicked in. “This isn’t going to beat me,” I declared as I attempted to bury my grief in my work and medicated my pain with food.

By this time, I weighed 420 pounds, the culmination of a lifetime struggle with weight and the underlying causes that went far deeper than my father’s suicide.

One afternoon as I lay motionless on our shower floor—distant, zoned out, lost—my wife knew something had to be done. We talked with our pastor and church council. Up to that point, I had answered God’s call to ministry by hiding behind my guitar to lead worship, not even giving a second thought to what else God might have in store for me.

With the spiritual guidance of our church leaders, we decided I needed to step back from ministry and get well.

Doctors tested me and determined that my depression was at a dangerous level. Many who knew me feared that, without help, I might not be able to recover.

When our daughter was born, my sleep apnea was so bad I could not hold our baby for fear I might drift to sleep and drop her. Things could not have gotten much worse.

I needed to be transformed by Jesus. I needed keys to a door that I had been trying to open all my life but could not break through.

I completely lost it in the office one day, and one of our church members, Betsy Roy, introduced me to Dr. Lynn Lucas, who walked me through hours of deliverance counseling, helping me not only face and forgive my past, but also for the first time in my life to dream about my future.

Peter Bonanno with Joshua + Elizabeth Eldridge

Shortly after, I met Paul Kuzma and the team at Foursquare Center for Spiritual Renewal—East in Christiansburg, Va. Paul introduced me to Dr. Chuck Shaffer, a Foursquare believer who operates The Weigh Station in Christiansburg. I had tried every diet along the Eastern Seaboard, and it took Dr. Shaffer and Dr. Lucas to help me identify that the problem was more than food and overeating.

I needed to be transformed by Jesus. I needed keys to a door that I had been trying to open all my life but could not break through.

God began to show me that He was calling me to lead a congregation. I would never give myself permission to put myself in such a public position because I wore my issues on the outside where everyone could see them. I disqualified myself from God’s plan for my life to avoid being disqualified by others.

Today, I have lost 190 pounds, and my life is entirely new. I have learned, however, that my problem was more than needing to lose weight. My weight loss is simply a side effect of an internal transformation by Jesus.

I see with different lenses today than I ever have before. I mean that literally and figuratively. My contact lens prescription has completely changed, and my heart sees with different eyes, as well. Now I realize the depth of Mark 7, when Jesus healed a deaf man and delivered a demon-possessed woman. Near the end of the chapter, the people remarked that Jesus “has done does all things well” (v. 37, NKJV).

There have been so many layers of transformation in my life the past two years. It’s wild. People don’t recognize me. I am able to look people in the eye now. Friends tell me that I live life with more confidence.

All I know is that I am assured of God’s approval. I can dream about new possibilities now. Because of what Jesus did for me, I see entirely new options for my family and me.

Because I have experienced the healing power of Jesus in my life, I will pray for healing in others. I tried in my strength and learned that I could not do it alone. Jesus has done a transformative work within me that has exponentially affected me externally!

My marriage is different. My ministry is different. My family is different. My future is different!

This article was written with Rod Light, an ordained Foursquare minister, Life Pacific College instructor and freelance writer.

is senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in East Longmeadow, Mass.


  1. It’s amazing how our Lord Jesus Christ transforms life and restore hope to the hopeless. To God be all the glory.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your testimony. I have long awaited to hear about the transformation Jesus performed as I watched, Pastor Josh! Thank you Jesus for holding him in your loving, gentle and forgiving arms

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