Editor's note: Double Lives of Douglas County will be an occasional feature in the Echo Press, profiling people who have a hobby or second-calling that may seem an odd fit with their normal lives. To suggest a possible subject, email jbeach@echopress.
A broken life that left him weighing 130 pounds, dependent on drugs and alcohol, alone and nearly dead is what eventually led Jay Jenson to the current life he loves - a life where he preaches from a pulpit and performs preacher curls from a stage.
It was a knock at the door from his brother, Mark, that was the turning point for the Alexandria pastor, who also happens to be a competitive bodybuilder.
"He asked me how long I wanted to continue with the life I was living and what I was willing to do to change," Jenson said.
In 2006, Jenson, who is also the academy director for NorthStar Christian Academy in Alexandria, entered into a treatment facility. He said he "gave up and surrendered himself to the Lord."
Ten years later, Jenson, who had become a pastor, started The Church, at 3992 Highway 27 West. The non-denominational church, which Jenson described as a "come as you are kind of church," meets Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m.
"As a pastor, I tell everyone there is a hero inside each of us," said Jenson. "It may take some work to uncover who it is, but there's one there."
When it comes to being a bodybuilder, Jenson said, "Look at what God can do."
In both his life as a pastor and his life as a bodybuilder, the similarity boils down to doing "all the hard things."
In his pastoral life, Jenson tries to lead people in doing what is right, which is sometimes the hard choice. But, he said, people are often driven by challenges.
This is the same when it comes to physical fitness, especially the "driven by challenges" part, he said.
In 2016, he set some goals for himself, one of which was to compete physically in a fitness competition. He did two - the Noonan Sports Specialist Powerlifting Meet in Alexandria in April and the Northern States Natural Classic Bodybuilding Competition in Elk River in October.
The soon-to-be 56-year-old said no one was more surprised than he was when he won top honors at the powerlifting meet at Noonan's.
"I had the Lord as my workout partner," said Jenson. "He makes a pretty good spotter."
At the bodybuilding competition, Jenson placed second in the over 50 category and placed third in the over 40 category.
"That was the most arduous thing I've ever done," Jenson said of that competition. "It was a little intimidating."
But he said he got the most crowd response when he took the stage, although he said it could have been because of his choice of music. Jenson said he "performed" to the song, "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood.
"I'm sure it was the song that got the crowd going," he said with a chuckle.
Jenson believes that everyone needs to have a balance of spirituality along with emotional and physical strength.
"The Lord is my closest friend and I have strong desire to take care of myself emotionally and physically," he said. "During my workouts, which is my devotional time, I will listen to worship music."
Prior to starting The Church, Jenson was the director of ministry for seven years at LifeRight Outreach. LifeRight provides transitional housing for those who are recovering from alcohol and chemical dependency.
"My life has been a whirlwind of change and I took an extremely different course than I had planned," said Jenson.
He is remarried and is celebrating his 10th anniversary. Between himself and his wife, Rochelle, they have six children ranging in age from 35 to 14, three grandkids and three grandkids on the way.
"I love my life," said Jenson. "It doesn't mean that it's easy. I just don't mind doing the hard things."