Sarah Harding is the editor of the Presbyterian Herald
Q Tell me about your background
A I am 44. I was brought up in Helen’s Bay with my older brother and two younger sisters. I went to Sullivan Upper School and it was there I met my husband, Marc. We have been married for 20 years and we have three children, Grace (17), Nevin (13), and Seth (10). Following a degree in Publishing (at Stirling University) I worked in Blackstaff Press in Belfast. I then moved to the Presbyterian Church in 2004.
Q How and when did you come to faith?
A My mum always took us to Helen’s Bay Presbyterian Church and I first became a Christian through a holiday club there, but it was through my close friends and the Scripture Union at Sullivan that my faith became real.
Q Does this faith play a real part in your life, or is it only for Sundays?
A Faith is an essential part of my life. My desire is to love and serve God every day, which is challenging, so I find church each week re-centres me on God.
Q Have you ever had a crisis of faith or a gnawing doubt about your faith?
A I have never had a crisis of faith. I have probably had some doubts, but I think I doubt myself much more than I would ever doubt God.
Q Have you ever been angry with God, and if so, why?
A I have definitely had times when I’ve questioned him or found him distant, but ultimately I trust in his sovereignty.
Q Do you ever get criticised for your faith, and are you able to live with that criticism?
A Working in a Christian environment I feel I am sheltered to some criticism. I have always been blessed with good Christian friends, so even when I received criticism in the past — at school, university or other jobs — I felt well supported for it not to bother me.
Q What are the challenges of editing a large church magazine?
A You certainly can’t please all the people all the time, so that can be a challenge. Overall though, it is an enormous privilege to edit the
magazine — I get to meet some amazing people who are witnessing powerfully for the Lord in their communities. I also get to witness the grace of God in action. He has never let us go to print with a blank page yet.
Q Are you afraid to die, or can you look beyond death?
A I am not afraid to die in the sense that I am sure that my salvation in Heaven is secure, but I will confess to feeling afraid at the prospect of actually going through death.
Q Are you afraid of ‘hell-fire?”
A No, I am not — I trust that I will be with God in Heaven. I am more afraid of the words found in Matthew 12:36: “…everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every idle word they have spoken.” I fear I will have to account for many things.
Q Do you believe in a resurrection, and if so, what will it be like?
A Yes — I believe it will be glorious. I’m not sure how I feel about not being married to Marc in Heaven, or having other family relationships in the same way. But I trust that Heaven is outside of my comprehension and that I won’t mind when there.
Q What about people of other denominations and other faiths?
A I see people from other denominations as brothers and sisters in Christ. I believe Jesus is the only way to God, so I pray that people of other faiths recognise this and put their faith in him.
Q Would you be comfortable in stepping out from your own faith and trying to learn something from other people?
A I would, as long as it wouldn’t compromise my own faith. It’s always important to listen to other people and learn from them.
Q Do you think that the churches here are fulfilling their mission?
A In a report card scenario, it would probably say, ‘Could do better’. But we are all broken people, so that’s a given. I think there is a genuine passion among churches here to reach out to people and share the good news of salvation with them.
Q Why are so many people turning their backs on organised religion?
A I think people are lacking any fear of God. They desire to be in control rather than submit to a loving God.
Q Has religion helped or hindered the people of Northern Ireland?
A Some people have been hindered in embracing God who loves them because the conflict has put them off any form of religion. But then others have been helped by finding true salvation and freedom through the person of Jesus Christ.
Q Some personal preferences: do you have a favourite film, book, and music?
A My favourite book is Anne of Green Gables — growing up I was so encouraged by a heroine with red hair. And my guilty pleasure TV show is Murder, She Wrote. I think I love it because of the ‘80s and ‘90s nostalgia. Plus, it’s always easy to work out who did it. In terms of music, at the moment I am enjoying listening to Carrie Underwood’s new album titled My Saviour.
Q The place where you feel closest to God?
A On a particular seat in our living room. It’s where I pray and read my Bible — taking time out to be with God is never wasted — and it’s somewhere I need to sit more.
Q The inscription on your gravestone, if any?
A ‘All I have needed thy hand hath provided. Great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me’.
Q Finally, any major regrets?
A No. I worry over the small stuff all the time and beat myself up over things I should have said or done (or not said or done), but I know I have been very blessed and I thank God daily for his provision and kindness.