Why My Friends Call Me Tattoo Evangelist

I can take you back to the beginning if you’d like… But the gist of it is that for a while God has spoken to me about people through their tattoos.

The first time it happened I had just poked fun at the original Tattoo Evangelist, Doug Addison, and God with his sense of humor decided to show me. (A short testimony of that here)

So one afternoon some friends of mine from the School of Evangelism and Christ For All Nations were at the Florida Mall in Orlando. We had just left CFaN and Todd White had been exhorting us to not wait for God to move, but to be a move of God. Create an atmosphere, take a risk, give him an opening in faith to step in and show off.

We grabbed a bite at the food court and the Holy Spirit gave spoke to me about the cashier through her tattoos. I shared what God showed me with her and it opened her heart up to the gospel. She later came to our table so that I could fully share the gospel with her. Holy Spirit gave several of us words of knowledge about some issues she was dealing with. We were able to pray for her, and speak life into to her. It was great. It was part of everyday normal life, amazing, but normal… for me… the whole tattoo thing though intrigued my buddies who began teasing me to “do the trick” again.

They began looking for tattoos all around us. I explained to them that there was nothing I could do! It wasn’t something I “did.” It only happened when I saw a tattoo and God specifically told me something. There was no rhyme or reason. I don’t “try” to do it. We walked through the mall and they just would not let it go. “Do it again bro!” “There’s a tattoo!” …and then one of my friends really through the gauntlet down.

I can’t remember for sure who it was, but I am almost certain it was my buddy Tab. “You just left Todd who was talking about taking a risk and making an opportunity…”

I’ll never forget the tattoo either. Much like the one pictured. A small ice cream cone with a cherry on top.


You see, conviction hit so I made up my mind and said, “OK guys… the very next tattoo I see I am going to interpret” and no sooner had I said those words I saw the ice cream cone. I walked over to the kiosk in the middle of the mall, I couldn’t tell you what it was selling, but attached to the ice cream cone tattoo was a young girl in her mid to late twenties, wearing a tank top and shorts, and covered in tattoos. “Ah crud” I thought. I’d only seen the one… Now here I am trying to play it cool as I looked and saw an entire body covered in ink.

I introduced myself and just told her that I didn’t have any ink myself but was always interested in it and asked if I could check hers out… to buy me some time… And she obliged. She began showing me tattoos in places I hadn’t noticed, moving clothing to the side, and telling me what each and everyone of them meant to her. So on top of the fact that she now has tons of tattoos and I have nothing to go on, she’s telling me already what they mean to her and I am about to be this really creepy guy who came up to her in the mall to check out her ink laden body, and will be walking off in failure in front of my buddies. “Awesome. Great, God. Thanks a lot.”

And then it happened. She exhausted her inventory of tats and reasons why and ended on the very tattoo that brought me to her in the first place. That little ice cream cone. “This one here is just an ice cream cone. I have no idea why I got this one.”  “Yeah God, you’re still on the throne,” I half jokingly thought. “So you’re telling me that every single piece you have has a specific meaning to you, except that one right there?” I asked. “Yep.” “Well, would you like to know why?” I offered and explained to her that I interpret tattoos! She was all in.

Keep in mind at this point she had no idea I was a Christian, or my real purpose there. I told her I would have to put my hand on the tattoo if that was OK, and she was fine with that. I had no idea what was about to happen. I had never done this before. I was making an opportunity. Taking a risk. So as she held my hand and with my other hand on the tattoo on her arm I began to pray… out loud… for her. I prayed that Daddy God would reveal the mystery to her of why she placed this on her body, that he would reveal his heart for her, that he would reveal his love to her. I shared the gospel in the prayer. She may have not know my intentions at first, but she did now, and it was too late. And the miraculous happened. Daddy answered my prayer.

At first I responded “No! I will NOT share that with her. I am a guy, we’re here in the middle of a mall and everyone is watching, I can’t say that God.” And because of his infinite love for both her and me, he said,” OK… but if you’re not going to tell her, then I am going to let you experience everything she experienced right here.” 

I can’t express the pain I felt. (emotionally and physically) It was visible enough that my buddies backed up and decided maybe they didn’t need to see “the trick” anymore. The hurt, and darkness I experienced in what was probably only a couple of seconds is something I can still feel today. My heart was broken for this girl. I just wanted to hold her and love her and take it all away, just like our Father does. I got it. This was what HE experiences everyday.

And so, in the middle of the mall… me crying like a baby… with people staring… I looked this precious girl in her teary eyes and I shared the Father’s heart for her. I shared why she had chose that tattoo. I shared how it represented the innocence of a child, and how she felt when her’s was stripped from her by someone who should have been trusted. I shared how God had sent me to restore that innocence to her, but that it meant following Jesus. I hugged her as she cried and anger, bitterness, and hate left her. I wept with her, not for her …WITH her.

I expected to learn how to take a risk and watch God move. What I learned was what it’s like to love like Jesus. I’ve not been the same since.

I encourage you.

You may think, like I did, that “tattoo interpretation” is too weird for God to use. Don’t put God into a box. Use whatever door you can to open people up to the gospel. Take a risk. Be a move. Make a small moment that God can turn someone’s eternity around in.

Love like Jesus. He’s weeping and hurting for the lost… so should we if we really are full of him…

And let the Holy Spirit have his way. Learn to be sensitive to him. He can do in a few minutes what years of counseling and therapy sometimes can’t.

God Bless. – Shannon Chappell

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