Sting (born-again Steve Borden) draws fans to LifeWay store
That's what happened when more than 500 people from all walks of life, churched and un-churched, got in line at the LifeWay Christian Store in Monroe, La., to meet Steve Borden, a.k.a. Sting, world champion 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," Pendergraft said. "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."
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 LifeWay store on the first Friday night in June.
"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,” he told the boys. “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."
For more than 20 years Borden was part of a multi-million-dollar industry in which he was a nine-time World Championship Wrestling titleholder. His fans relished his descent into the ring from arena rafters and his trademark wrestling moves known as the Stinger Splash and the Scorpion Death Lock. His black and white face paint and black trench coat meant impending doom in the ring, and his skills helped him defeat other greats like Hulk Hogan and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
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 1996, God really began working on my heart," Borden said.
For two years he was desperate to find God, he said. He went forward at a Promise Keepers rally and prayed the sinner's prayer, and again at an evening church service. But he says his expectations of God were wrong.
"I wanted God to wave a magic wand and make everything better, but my life just continued on the way it was and things got worse and worse," Borden said. "My mistake was I thought I'd just get my fire insurance, so I would be sure I'd go to heaven, but God couldn't work in my life because I wasn't surrendered to Him. I needed something supernatural to happen in my life. I needed God."
After breaking down and confessing to his wife his addictions and the immoral lifestyle he'd been living on the road, he then turned his life over to God. Borden finally understood what Scriptures like John 8:32 ("You will know the truth and the truth will set you free") meant. He stopped abusing painkillers and using alcohol, and even his language changed overnight.
Borden's wife accepted Christ a month after he did.
"I didn't have to be a chameleon anymore and wear all these different hats depending on who I was with," he said. He continued to wrestle for two more years and had many opportunities to share with fellow wrestlers like Hogan, Ric Flair and Bill Goldberg the reason he had begun to act so differently.
"We have experienced blessings and miracles in this marriage, and we just know God is alive and well," Borden said. "The joy and peace is just so amazing in my marriage now. I look at my wife with eyes that I never knew I could look at her with. I know now what love is, and it's not a feeling."
While he considers himself semi-retired, Borden still makes his way back to the ring when he's called -- both in the States and overseas -- and enjoys surprising the fans with an appearance. As his alter ego Sting is known for saying: "The one thing you know about Sting is you never know about Sting."
And the one thing Steve Borden knows is this: "Don't walk in mediocrity with one foot in the world. Go for it [with God] and watch what happens."
Steve Borden's book and DVD, "Sting: Moment of Truth," are available at LifeWay Christian Stores.