This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Scripture makes indelible mark

HESSTON, Kan. — Nathanael Ressler has the story of God’s people tattooed on his left arm.

It’s the timeline of the Heilsgeschichte, or “salvation history,” from Hesston College’s Biblical Literature course.

Nathanael Ressler shows his tattoo of the Heilsgeschicte (salvation history), the cornerstone of Hesston College’s Biblical Literature class. — Alex Leff/Hesston College
Nathanael Ressler shows his tattoo of the Heilsgeschichte (salvation history), the cornerstone of Hesston College’s Biblical Literature class. — Alex Leff/Hesston College

“The Heilsgeschichte and this timeline represent a story that we are a part of,” said Ressler, who graduated from Hesston College May 11. “When I look at it, I am reminded that this is my story; this is my identity. I am connected to the Bible through it.”

Ressler’s spiritual journey started in his hometown of Mount Vernon, Ill., where he attended East Bend Mennonite Church as the son of the pastor, Jeff Ressler.

At Hesston he majored in Bible and took Biblical Literature from longtime faculty member Marion Bontrager.

“I sort of thought I knew more than the average person, and I felt good going into the class,” Ressler said. “But the class really taught me more than I ever thought [it would], and it helped me grow and connect with God on a more spiritual level.”

After completing the course, Ressler sought for more spiritual growth and was selected by campus pastor Todd Lehman as a ministry assistant.

Ressler’s faith commitment led him to the idea of getting a tattoo symbolizing his connection with Hesston and his faith.

“I figured that the Heilsge­schichte was such a big part of my life that it made sense to have it embedded onto my skin,” he said.

But he thought long and hard about it first.

“Before I actually got the tattoo, I drew it on my arm with permanent marker,” he said. “After about three weeks of having it on my arm I came to the conclusion that I loved having it, so that’s when I started to make plans for the tattoo.”

After extensive talks with his parents and some of his closest friends, the date was set for Aug. 13, 2013.

“My parents really didn’t want me to get it because it would stay with me forever,” Ressler said. “But in the end they told me it was my choice and they respected my decision.”

The Heilsgeschichte and Ressler are now one, and he doesn’t hesitate when asked about his decision.

“The tattoo is one of the greatest decisions I’ve made because it reflects who I am, and it’s a new way for me to talk about Jesus and the Bible,” he said.

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