Name: Randy Starkey
Briefly describe how you grew up::
Describe your family growing up: I grew up in an eclectic family. Both my parents were married before. I grew up with 3 brothers and 1 sister in our home. My brothers were mostly absent by the time I grew into my early teen years. I imagined my family to be a typically dysfunctional family. While there were some rocky times, most of my memories were mostly good. My family did not attend any church. As a teen I was ignorant of the gospel even though a few people attempted to share it with me. It had no place in my life, nor did I recognize any need for Jesus.
Describe your joys and struggles growing up: My parents made it possible for me to be involved in a number of sports even though they were barely able to make ends meet. I didn't understand that at the time and enjoyed the opportunities afforded me. I had several close friends growing up. My life revolved around hanging out with my friends and playing sports. I did fair in school and at times excelled. There were a few struggles during my teen years. 2 of my brothers were involved in drugs and alcohol which caused issued from time to time. I, myself, began to drink and smoke at the age of 12. Drinking was a regular entertainment for me for several years but thankfully never took hold of me and mostly ended by the time I was a senior in high school.
Describe your conversion experience::
How did you first come under the hearing of the gospel?: Just before Christmas break my senior year of high school my brother attempted suicide during one of his drunk sprees. After he was released from the hospital, he came home to live with us and shared a room with me. He had been visited by a pastor while in the hospital and decided to visit the church. I decided I would go with him in order to give him motivation to go and just maybe he wouldn't return to drinking. The first time I visited the church in December of 1990, I was shaken. I responded during the invitation even though I wasn't sure why or to what I was responding. In fact, after being led through "The Sinner's Prayer," I was embarrassed wondering what my brother would think. I'm not so sure I was saved that day as I reflect back on it, since I still had no understanding of the gospel at that point. But my journey to faith began.
When did you first experience recognition of your sin and need of a Savior?: My brother and I began to read the Bible and attend some revival meetings together. Over the next several months, I began to be confronted with my sin. I remember my greatest 2 struggles involved my music and my girl friend. As I struggled with what was taking place in my heart, I finally realized that I couldn't continue my own way and follow Christ. I wish I could say that I boldly took a stand, but it was more like God did it for me. My car radio blew up leaving me without the means to listen to my music and after I attempted to feebly tell my girl friend what was going on in my heart, she took me for a fool and broke up. It was the process of these struggles that caused me to realize my own sinfulness in light of the gospel.
How did you initially and ultimately respond to the gospel?: While I am not certain I was saved that first morning, I was declared to be so since I had prayed to receive Christ and was scheduled to be baptized in March 1991. The struggles that I faced between those two events were what brought me to truly repent of my sin and trust Christ for my salvation. While my outward response before a church was taken care of, the inward change had yet to occur. It was in preparation for the night of my baptism that I suddenly realized the profession I was about to make and my eyes were opened to the beauty of Christ and the gospel.
Describe your experience after your conversion::
When and where were you baptized?: I was baptized in March of 1991 at a church nearby the one I was attending since we didn't have a baptistry. I cannot recall the name of that church but know that it was near the Hickory airport in Hickory, NC.
Briefly recount your baptism experience.: My memory of the events around my baptism are vague. I do remember the song "We Shall See Jesus" being sung that night and having a profound effect on my emotionally. I also remember standing in the baptistry and being overwhelmed with what God had been doing in my heart.
Describe any obvious changes that took place in your life: The struggles I mentioned before were the first evident changes that took place in my life after being confronted with the gospel. I also began trying to share what I knew with my friends. I found that even the kids that attended the church weren't very interested in what I had to say. My closest friends outside of the church didn't respond much to what had happened in my life at first, but as it began to affect what we did and how we did it, they began to mock me and eventually went a different direction. I found it difficult to find others who were as affected by the gospel as I was that were my own age.
How, and by whom were you discipled (if at all)?: Right after I began attending the church where I was saved, they hired an associate pastor of youth. He started in January of 1991. I began to spend as much time as I could with him and learned a great deal from him over the years. I began attending a Bible college not long after my conversion and gained a great deal of unintentional discipleship from some of the others attending. My first experience with intentional discipleship came when I began attending Calvary Bible College in Kansas City. The Dean of Students took it upon himself to initiate a period of meeting with me. I didn't realize it at the time, but he was discipling me.
How has God used you to serve the gospel through the church and elsewhere?: Since my conversion, I have had many opportunities to serve the Lord both in volunteer roles with youth and then later as a youth pastor and then senior pastor. I also had opportunities to serve outside the church by sharing the gospel with others that I have worked with. Since 2004 the Lord has also allowed me the privilege of serving the gospel ministry in Haiti.
How is God growing you in the present?: Most recently God is reminding me of His amazing grace through a small church I am now serving at. I have found it easy to forget the simple and most important aspects of being a Christian. I now find myself at what I consider the most exciting part of my life so far. I pray that I will be found faithful and continue to serve the gospel joyfully.