MONROE, La. (BP)--It's one thing to meet your hero. It's another to hear your hero talk about his.
Students from New Chapel Hill Baptist Church in West Monroe, La., met wrestler Steve Borden, aka Sting, at a signing held at the Monroe LifeWay Christian Store in June.
- Photo by Michael Yarber
That's what happened when more than 500 people from all walks of life, churched and un-churched, got in line at the Monroe, La., LifeWay Christian Store on the first Friday night in June to meet Steve Borden, aka Sting, world champion pro-wrestler.
Borden signed copies of his book, "Sting: Moment of Truth," which offers a powerful testimony of how God changed his life and saved his marriage and his family.
Jeremy Pendergraft, wearing a black T-shirt with the image of a skull on the front, sported multiple earrings and several tattoos up and down his arms as he stood near the front of the line with his friend Shelby Clanten.
"Sting is awesome," said Pendergraft, a Monroe native. "He's a great wrestler with a great heart for wrestling. It took us everything we had to get here but we knew we had to come. I didn't know about the book. It's cool he found God and all."
For more than 20 years Borden's fans have known him as Sting, a nine-time World Championship Wrestling titleholder who often descended into the ring from rafters hundreds of feet overhead and unleashed trademark wrestling moves known as the Stinger Splash and the Scorpion Death Lock.
By the mid-1990s, Borden had reached the height of success within the wrestling world -- enjoying international fame, money and everything he'd ever wanted. But something was missing.
"I realized I had achieved everything the world calls success, but I was not happy," Borden said. "There was something in my life that was really, really empty."
Traveling away from home and his family for months at a time, Borden turned to pain medication and alcohol to escape the issues that were building in his life and within his marriage. He admits things were out of control.
In 1998, Borden turned his life over to God completely. He stopped abusing painkillers, drinking alcohol, and even his language changed overnight. He continued to wrestle for two more years and had many opportunities to share with fellow wrestlers like Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan the reason he now acted so differently.
As the line slowly got shorter, Jeffrey Housley, 23, patiently waited toward the end with his wife and several teenage boys. A Sunday School teacher at New Chapel Hill Baptist in West Monroe, Housley had been looking for a way to impact the boys who were in his class. For several months he had prayed for a way that the boys, all wrestling fans, could meet Borden. It was an answer to prayer for the young teacher when he discovered Borden would be at the Monroe LifeWay.
"These guys have all grown up watching him [Sting], and they're at this age where most of them have all grown up in church and are now wanting to experiment with other things," Housley said. "I'm hoping he can give them a little insight ... that he can share with them when he realized that God was what he needed."
Borden met with the students in a rare one-on-one meeting in the store's backroom after the book-signing. After sharing his testimony, he encouraged the boys to embrace their faith.
"After I got saved, my brother, who's now my pastor, told me to let my example be my testimony," Borden said. "Don't be shy in sharing your faith; the more you talk about it, the stronger your faith will be."
As Scott Tarver, acting store manager, started picking things up at the end of the evening, he reviewed what had happened in the last two hours.
"We brought in a crowd of people tonight who would never have come in our doors for anything else," Tarver said. "That's our purpose. I talked with people tonight who didn't have any church background but who bought the book and the movie.
"I don't know if anyone got saved tonight but I can assure you the products they left with have the potential to change their lives. It's immeasurable."
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