The Broken I Brand
O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Psalm 51:15-17
The concept of branding has been in the culture of our ministry here at Ironwood from the very beginning. In 1976 our second big project after building the western fronts in Rivertown was to develop a facility we call the Branding Chapel. Today we use it for evening campfire and testimony services, but for over seven years it was our primary venue for the preaching of the Word to our campers. We called it the Branding Chapel to symbolize our foremost goal. In Galatians 6:17 the Apostle Paul referred to “marks of the Lord Jesus” upon him.
Brands have always shown or symbolized ownership, and in Roman times a brand was put upon slaves to show to whom they belonged. Our desire is for young people to make decisions as a result of the preaching of the Word, which would, in essence, put a mark of ownership upon them, symbolizing the change that was taking place in their lives. Our preaching at the Branding Chapel was for four primary decisions in life—conversion, consecration, conviction, and Christ-likeness. Our prayer has always been that each of these decisions would so mark a camper so it would be evident to all that they were the property of Jesus Christ, their Lord and Master.
Early in our ministry we had an opportunity to run some cattle on the open range with our neighbors, provided that we would brand our cattle. So we did some research and registered a livestock brand for Ironwood, which we put on the left hip of all our range cattle and also on the left hip of all the horses born here which we thought would be “keepers.”
As this registered livestock brand became more prevalent around camp, we began to use it as we do the Ironwood tree—as a logo. Only this logo has a very special meaning going back to the very heart of this ministry. Standing straight up, the capital letter “I” signifies man and what he can do on his own, but a Broken “I” symbolizes the ownership of this ministry, including the resources and people, of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is our way of saying we are submissive and obedient to Him in all we do. It also signifies our dependence upon Him for direction, provision, and accomplishment as we in spiritual humility yield in brokenness to Him.