Jesus Loves the Tattooed People

I myself don’t have any tattoos and I’m hardly weird at all. But probably not everyone would agree with that. And if you are passing through a small town in the middle of the USA, and if it is summer, and if it is a Thursday (which is the night we have live bands in the park), and if you see a long haired woman of a certain age (you know, still young enough to dance for hours,

but too old to care who’s watching), and if you see her dancing barefoot in the grass, well maybe that will be me . . . But as it turns out, the night I am writing about was not a Thursday, but a Tuesday. Bible study night. My 12 year old daughter and I arrived shortly before 7 pm. We were approached by a bubbly young woman with large tattoos on her arms and delicate, sparkly facial piercings. She took my daughter’s arm and said, “we’re so glad you’re here. You can sing with us.” So my daughter went with the young people and I headed for the back room where the Bible study group meets. It is a small room with a long table and that particular night the other people were mostly already there sitting around the table in the cramped room. Two women that I have enjoyed praying with and talking with over the past few months had saved me a place between them. They seemed glad to see me. Most of the men wore tank tops or t-shirts with the sleeves torn off. I thought that probably, if compared to most Bible study groups, our group consisted of a higher percentage of people who have been in prison, experienced homelessness, struggled with severe substance abuse problems, have various types of mental challenges, and/or have numerous tattoos. They are a lively bunch, very talkative. They don’t stick very closely with the study book, but don’t stray much from the general topic of the Bible itself, which they are obviously intensely excited about. Often, after reading a passage listed in the study book, someone will share another passage that

happens to come to their mind or that they notice on the opposite page from the reading material suggested in the study book. Across from me is an old man I have known for a long time through other church groups, etc. I’ll call him Walt. He has a sunny smile. He is not someone who has been blessed with great intelligence, but he makes full use of the gifts he does have. His faith is strong and childlike and he greets everyone with a sincere smile. He talks about his experiences with sharing his faith with his neighbors. Sometimes he sings for me. “I don’t sing well,” he tells me, “but God called me to sing, so I do it.” The songs he sings are old and remind me of my childhood. I become tearful and I thank him for sharing his songs. He has quite a lot of scripture memorized, which he is also eager to share. But he has difficulty finding the particular passages that we are studying. There is a young man sitting next to him who helps him. The young man’s upper body is covered with tattoos and his facial piercings are extreme. The “normal” people might find his appearance disturbing, but I sense a gentle spirit about him. It is apparent he is quite knowledgeable about the Bible. He shares a scripture he has tattooed on his arm. He is very patient in helping the old man (Walt) find each passage. Sometimes Walt or one of the other people say they do not understand something the group is discussing, someone else in the group explains.

A prayer request is mentioned; someone in the groups is ill. The group has prayed for him a number of times. Another young man (I’ll call him John) says to the one who is ill, “I feel there is some kind of evil spirit present. I’ll cast it out for you after the meeting so you can be healed. John has a nice haircut and wears a more conservative polo shirt with actual sleeves and he has no visible tattoos, which is ok; we accept people who look like that too. The closing prayer is given. I feel the power of the Holy Spirit strongly. After the meeting, many of the people leave the room. But Walt is still sitting across from me and a short distance away John is praying with the man who is ill, casting out the evil spirit, praying for healing. Walt sings me another song and prays for my family. I am praying with Walt, but I feel my spirit joining John’s prayer also, as he commands the evil spirit to leave in a loud voice. Wow! My spirit can multi-task. I think it is important to guard against becoming too mainstream, socially acceptable, “conformed to the pattern of this world”. (Romans 12:2) It’s important to continue praying in power, feeding the sheep, and offering acceptance, love, and hope. Especially to those who need it most, which is all of us, and the normal people too. RoseDQ Nov 2009