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From Fear to Fervent Faith
Nathan Bramlet was born and raised in a small town in Western Pennsylvania called Kittanning. In his early years, he was afraid of everything, but especially the dark. In fact, when nightfall came, he dared not venture out due to his paralyzing fears. The nightlight he kept near his bed did little to keep the terrifying nightmares at bay.
One night, after he awoke from yet another bad dream, he ran crying to his mom’s room, desperate to find some kind of peace.
His mother told him he didn’t need to live a life of fear and that perfect love destroys all fear. Nathan found hope in her words. But how could he find this "perfect love" she spoke about?
His mother told him about Jesus, the one person who exemplified "perfect love" by dying on the cross to save sinners. Jesus broke the power of death and could break the power of sin in his life. All he had to do was accept Him as his Savior.
That night, Nathan put his trust in Jesus for his salvation. And that’s when he felt his life really began.
"Accepting Jesus doesn't mean your life is a bed of roses," Nathan confided. "It means that you will be given enough grace to get you through. I was 7 when Jesus took over my life and 10 when my dad left. That was extremely hard to take, but God carried me through it."
Citation Award dream
When Nathan was 15, he got involved in Awana. He was excited about learning the Scriptures.
"Memorization was a blessing for me," Nathan said. "It was something that changed my life. God's Word is alive, and when you seal it in your heart you become filled with the Living Word. Knowing Scripture helps you in spiritual battles as well. Whenever I was afraid, I would quote verses on fear to help calm my nerves."
Bible Quizzing, a special Awana event testing kids’ knowledge of Scripture, was instrumental in helping Nathan learn more and more verses. It eventually became his goal to earn the Citation Award, the highest achievement in Awana. The Citation requires learning over 700 Bible verses.
"My Awana leader, Sherry Pleacher, helped me achieve this goal, meeting with me whenever she could to listen to verses," Nathan recalled. "When I would feel discouraged, she would say, ‘Nathan, you can do this.’"
Nathan earned his Citation Award in only two years. The Citation typically takes 10 years to achieve.
A future directed by God
When Nathan was 18, he went to Japan with an Awana short-term missions team. While there, he realized that teaching people about Jesus Christ was the most fulfilling thing he could ever do. He decided to commit his life to serving the Lord.
Encouraged by his team leaders, Don and Cheryl Devinney, he began a small public-speaking ministry. The church where his Awana program was held asked him to speak at its youth conference.
"It was that night that I met my wife, and I knew she was the one that God wanted for me," Nathan said. "In six months we were married."
He and his wife, Stacey, are now expecting their first child, a girl they have named Eleanor Mae.
Nathan, 23, attributes a huge part of his spiritual growth to the years he spent in Awana and his mother’s help along the way.
"Now I am looking forward to teaching my daughter the truth of Jesus Christ," he said, "just as my mother taught my sisters and me."