“FORG” “IVEN”

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The Tattoo

pull quote 1Tattooing the letters for the word “forgiven” on the tops of his fingers ensured Branden Ramsey that he would have no choice but to tell people about Jesus.

“I thought it would be a good way to plant that seed with people, and it also reminded me not to get down on myself—that God will always forgive me,” said Ramsey, from Port Clinton, Ohio. Ramsey is finding that as he sorts out some struggles of his own, he needs a regular reminder of God’s forgiveness.

Opening Doors and Planting Seeds

He and a cousin were talking about a sermon they heard at Church of Truth Ministries in Gypsum, Ohio that had to do with planting seeds when they idea came up about the tattoos last year.

pull quote 2People see the letters and ask what it spells. Ramsey makes two fists, puts them beside each other and then the word “forgiven” clearly stands out.

Ramsey, a bull rider and Gulf War vet, finds himself explaining the tattoos to people more than once a day.

He says it was hard in the past to find ways to tell people about Jesus, but by using the tattoos, the door always opens. The more he shares, the easier it is getting. As he explains, “It’s always been hard for me because I am short on words, but it makes it easier to try instead of just bringing it up randomly.”

He says most people are “cool” when they hear the answer. He’s never taken any flak from anyone that regretted hearing about Jesus when they asked what the letters spell.

Rebuilding One Day at at Time

The tattoos that spell “forgiven” continue to be an encouragement to Ramsey as well. Currently undergoing treatment for alcoholism at a VA hospital near Cleveland, he says he also needs that constant reminder of who his Savior is.

Ramsey says it’s been rough. He is struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Earlier this spring and despite his growing faith, he got stopped by police just before he could drive his truck off a bridge. He has been struggling with alcohol for over a year now and, combined with the PTSD, there are days he doesn’t know what end is up. He finally found the courage to seek treatment after trying to fight the addiction on his own.

pull quote 4“I had three rough deployments and it really messed my head up,” he says. He was part of the initial invasion in 2003 and was back again in 2005-06 and 2008-09. His role included raids and clearing routes of improvised explosive devices—one with which he had a near-fatal encounter.

Now he just wants to finish treatment, seek further help for his PTSD and then complete the university agriculture program he has been working on. He would like to find some land and cattle, and, for as long as his body will hold up, he plans to continue to ride bulls.

None of his experiences causes Ramsey to see himself as particularly courageous, but he encourages people to find their own way to do what he’s done with the tattoos and force themselves to share Christ with others, to show a love that is greater than fear.

“Seems like God is all I have left and I’m okay with that,” said Ramsey as he continues to rebuild his life, one day at a time.

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Brandon is supported by a ministry called Cowboys of the Cross. If you would like to find out more about this ministry, please click the link or the button below to be directed to their website. If you would like to donate and support cowboys like Brandon, you can follow the information on their website, or if you are local to the Maryville area, you can make out a check or donation to Maryville Vineyard Church either on site (713 William Blount Dr.) or via the “Donate” button below. Please specify “Cowboys of the Cross” on the memo line.

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LOVE>FEAR is created and operated by Maryville Vineyard and exists to leverage the power of stories to initiate change in the world. We believe that the stories of LOVE>FEAR that we share on lovegreater.org contain a powerful, life-changing message. Love is greater than fear, but more than that, we want to show how perfect love casts out fear. For more information on lovegreater.org, please check out our about page. The time for LOVE>FEAR is now.

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