RRC: What prompted you to transition to Christianity from being born and raised in the Mormon faith?
HS: I did not understand the Baptism for the Dead ceremony I experienced at age 12. By the time I was 14, I had left the church. My mom and a lot of her family still attend the Mormon church, and I have many friends in that faith.
RRC: You stopped attending church at age 14 and returned as an adult at 37. Why did you decide to go back?
HS: I knew something was missing in my life. My brother, Jimmy, had changed his life around November 2006. I noticed the difference in his attitude, and he seemed to have found a new peace. I asked him what changed. He told me he gave his life to Jesus and he and his family had started attending a small Baptist church in Shorter, AL, Cubahatchie Baptist Church. I knew I needed that and decided to visit in February 2007. I gave my life to Jesus in March 2007. I was baptized in August of 2007. My wife was also baptized with me as she re-dedicated her life to Jesus. We waited until August to have our best friend attend after he returned from a deployment in Iraq.
RRC: How have foreign mission trips impacted your life, and what have you learned?
HS: I began going on foreign mission trips in December 2014 and traveling to Nicaragua. The experience was unforgettable. I became hooked on that first trip. Sharing the Gospel of Jesus and seeing lives forever changed became my passion. I have now been to Nicaragua five times, the Philippines, Zambia, Africa, Haiti, and Brazil twice. I will go to Brazil again in June 2024 with Amazon Hope.
RRC: As the owner of Publications Plus, what does demonstrating a servant’s heart mean to you in business?
HS: We employ about 50 people. I feel I have an obligation to show compassion to my colleagues, and when given the opportunity, I tell them about having a new life in Jesus. I have seen a positive change in many of our employees year after year. It’s nice to hear a testimony and someone tell me how I have impacted their life. I sincerely believe that this is another family for me here.
RRC: How has being the director of Fishers of Men connected you to the community spiritually?
HS: In 2018, I got the opportunity to become the director of the Alabama Central Fishers of Men division. My love for foreign missions sparked an interest in leading others to Christ in central Alabama. I had fished in the FOM AL Central division for years and loved the format. They have always had a meeting the night before the tournaments. A meal is prepared during the meeting, and a motivational gospel presentation occurs. In 2023, we had seven individuals give their lives to Jesus. 2024 will be my 6th year as director in Central Alabama. I am very excited to see what God has in store this year.
RRC: What advice would you give someone who is struggling and desiring to find God and become born again?
HS: The “old” you must die and be born again in Jesus. God loves you so much that He does not wait for you to climb the mountain (get good enough) to come to Him. On the contrary, He has come to us right where we are at our worst and offers forgiveness, grace, and mercy that we cannot understand. All we need to do is accept the gift and acknowledge that Jesus gave his life for us, was resurrected, and lives today. Quit trying to fix your problems on your own and turn to Jesus!
RRC: What core Christian values are important to you serving as a deacon for Coosada Baptist Church?
HS: Servanthood. I love to help out. As a deacon at CBC, I am on the Hospital Visitation Committee. I love encouraging others going through surgeries or illnesses and sharing the blessings of members who might have a new baby. Being able to pray for these people is a blessing. Being part of a larger body of believers is a powerful feeling. I also love leading a small group at Coosada Baptist.
RRC: When your faith goes through difficult times, how do you find the strength not to give up?
HS: Life is not easy for anyone. I sometimes find myself in hard times or even in difficult situations. I always take these to prayer, and I search the Bible for answers. I have yet to deal with a problem that has not been solved using prayer and reading my Bible. Having a quiet time so you can hear God is vital. The Bible is a living document. I think many people do not see it like this.
RRC: Many men have come to know Christ through Fishers of Men, and how do you provide a safe space for them to receive Christ?
Harvey Starling has been married to Amanda for 30 years. He is the president of Publications Plus.