The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

December 31, 2013

Pastor forgives attacker, and finds new way to live

Thirty-seven stabs. Thirty-seven cuts by a knife. Twice to his throat. Six times to his spine. Seven times to his shoulder. A slice to his abdomen that ripped him open like a fish.

Kevin Ramsby lay on the floor of his Highland Park, Mich., home, bleeding out, waiting to die. It was 3 a.m., no one else was home, he’d been awakened by the sound of an intruder and had stumbled downstairs, his bulky frame protected only by a tennis racket he had grabbed.

The intruder had a knife.

Thirty-seven stabs.

“I was praying my last prayers for my wife, for my daughter. I was praying that my son wouldn’t be angry at God for allowing this to happen to me.”

Ramsby was no stranger to prayer. A pastor who came from Rockford, Ill., to work with troubled youth in Detroit, he lived in the community where he preached.

Now he was about to die in it.

But in one of those things that seem inexplicable except perhaps at this time of year, Ramsby says he heard a voice whisper to him. The voice said, “They still need you.”

It stirred him enough to rise from the floor “holding my insides on the outside” and drag his dying body to his neighbor’s porch.

When police arrived they could not at first tell whether the victim was male or female. That’s how covered in blood Ramsby was.

“That voice lifted you up?” he is asked now.

“It did,” he says, smiling.

Ramsby, 41, spent five months in the hospital and rehab. His attacker, a Detroit man named Wesley McLemore, pleaded guilty to attempted murder charges and sentenced to 18 to 40 years in prison last year.

But at the end of the trial, Ramsby refused to give a victim’s statement. Instead, he gave a “life” statement, in which he forgave McLemore and offered to help him in any way — now or in the future.

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