God At Work Through IM

Mr. Tattoo

Mr. Tattoo

Call him, "Mr. Tattoo." His whole body was covered with tattoos like Queequeg in the novel, Moby Dick. Some of the tattoos were pornographic. I would see most of them as he rested on his hospital bed in his gym shorts. His skin was a deep brown color because his father was from Spain, and his mother was an Apache Indian. His hair was long and bushy. With black and gray streaks, his hair stuck out straight like an Aboriginal bushman. His bushy beard was massive, and his eyes bulged brightly. This wild-looking man in his 30s had asked for a chaplain visit. A bit uneasy because of his looks, I sat down at a safe distance. 

Mr. Tattoo had lived a pretty rough life, and it was catching up with him. He had broken his back in an accident. The rest of his life would change. Now he had time to meditate on who he was and where he was going in life. Amazingly, in that process, he had picked up a Bible and started reading. He had grasped the basic facts of Jesus' life but could not put together what it all meant for him. 

Before, I saw a wild-looking man; but, as I pulled my chair closer, I now saw a precious soul for Jesus. His looks had really fooled me. We talked for a long time about sin, Jesus, forgiveness, and Christian living. I even sketched out for him a picture of God's great exchange for us. Mr. Tattoo began to understand, and his precious soul was now in the arms of Jesus. He even looked forward to reading his Bible and learning more about his Savior. 

I am told that getting a tattoo can be very painful. Today, people volunteer to go through this kind of pain to have marks on their bodies. They want to make some kind of statement. Some want to say something sentimental or about someone they love; others want something decorative or rebellious. However, all of their marks are only skin deep, and the meanings can change. 

On the other hand, when Jesus says, "Look at the nail marks through my hands," and "Look at my side pierced by a spear" (cf. John 20:27), Christ shows us the "tattoos" of his amazing grace. These marks are more than skin deep. These marks proclaim his saving death upon the cross for all of our sins and God's finished work of salvation. 

The "tattoos" of the cross helped Mr. Tattoo to have real peace with God and a new spirit. He would go home with new strength and direction from Jesus. May the next tattoo you see, remind you how Jesus' painful body marks saved you forever!





Ministry Behind the Walls

Institutional Ministries is a nonprofit organization established in 1901 that carries out behind-the-walls ministry by shining the light of Jesus’ love into hearts.