JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Aaron Ramsey needs space to preach, usually a parking lot's worth.
That's where he'll be Saturday and Sunday when his motorcycle-jumping ministry surges through a wall of fire and over nine buses outside Calvary Baptist Church in Middleburg, Fla.
The Augusta-based preacher on wheels said he was originally inspired by the legendary motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel. Now, planning and prayer go into making safe, yet exciting jumps to strengthen his witnessing of the word of God.
"Once we become a servant of Jesus, we are obligated to use the talents that we have to share the gospel for Christ," said Ramsey, 49.
Motorcycle stunts aren't usually part of preaching the word, admits Calvary's associate pastor, Tim Pledger. But as when Jesus used a story to explain a greater spiritual truth, Pledger invited Ramsey to give his flock entertainment and a message.
"We use these different earthly secular things to be able to teach greater truth," Pledger said. "No matter who you are or what your background is, there is a God who loves us. This will relate to people on their level and help them be more willing to accept the Gospel."
Ramsey is a construction instructor at the Aiken County Career and Technology Center in Warrenville. The motorcycle bug bit in 1974, and he successfully jumped over 16 Pontiacs, "only 120 feet," he admits.
His life then spiraled into drugs and alcohol, until a turning point came in 1999 when he saw Robbie Knievel, son of Evel, speak after he jumped 30 limousines.
"I can almost quote him, 'I always like to tell people the devil ain't done a damn thing for me. Keep believing in Jesus Christ, Las Vegas,'" Ramsey remembered.
He formed Jumping for the King soon after and has done 200 jumps across the Southeast and Midwest with family in tow. It costs about $350 to $500 each, paid by him.
"We are not trying to make a living," Ramsey said. "... Our mission in life is to get as many people to the saving knowledge of Jesus. So we try to keep the cost down to get the message out."
The Middleburg show Saturday starts with gospel singing, then Ramsey speaks at 6 p.m., followed by 6:30 p.m. stunts and a jump through a ring of fire on his Suzuki motorcycle. Ramsey will jump over church buses again about 12:30 p.m. Sunday after services.
"What we have tried to do is arrange appropriate things that are also exciting," Pledger said. "At the same time, we help them in their life and have a life for God."
Ramsey turns 50 the day after Sunday's jump. He said he always talks with people after each event, even before being taken away in an ambulance five years ago when he broke his pelvis and ribs.