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Aaron Ramsey is a happy man.
He is part Billy Graham, part Evel Knievel, and his childhood dreams have come true.
He keeps to the straight and narrow as he powers a yellow Suzuki RM250 up an 8-foot ramp and climbs into the heavens for his Jumping for the King ministry. His longest jumps are about 150 feet.
He performs more than a dozen motorcycle stunt shows a year in the Southeast and Midwest through his ministry, which includes his wife, Brenda, and daughters Raven, 17, and Michaela, 9. The girls sing at the shows.
Events can draw 30 to 3,000 people. Crowd size doesn't matter to him, nor does the cost.
God provides, said Mr. Ramsey, who covers the travel expenses and the $250 -$300 cost himself. What does matter to him, however, is that organizers allow him to preach.
"If they don't want me to preach, they don't want them to be saved," said Mr. Ramsey, 45, who uses his summers off from teaching construction trades at Aiken County Career and Technology Center to travel.
Inspired by daredevil Knievel, he did his first jump at age 15.
In October, he hit the ramp going about 5 mph too slow, took a bad bounce and headed toward a line of trees at about 50 mph. The crash left him with a pelvis broken in two places, broken ribs and an injured lung.
"If you do anything long enough, you could get hurt," he said.
He had recovered enough by mid- November to pack up his family and gear and head to a church-sponsored event, The Gathering, at Langley Pond in Burnettown.
That time, he planned a shorter jump, about one-fourth as long as usual.
"If you fall, there is a good chance in some people's heart that the testimony that you gave them before the jump might be altered, so we try to keep it as safe as possible in our public appearances," Mr. Ramsey said.
Mrs. Ramsey usually disappears about the time he jumps; the stunts make her too nervous to watch.
"There are people who say I'm tempting God and taking unnecessary risks," Mr. Ramsey said.
Some missionaries risk their lives spreading the Gospel where Christianity is restricted or barred, he said.
"I would rather stay here and preach to people in their home towns," he said.
Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about his ministry at thejesusteam.org.