Tattoo's day 5

Sent: Monday, March 06, 2006 11:05 PM
Subject: Day 5 of tattoo removal

Today was another day when you wondered how you could be so blessed to be in a certain place at a certain time. Every x gang member that came in had a tattoo that was “premiere”. What that means in English is that if I gave them a choice, out of 20 tattoos on their body, it is the very tattoo they wanted removed most. Either the tattoo put their very life in danger each day as they traveled back into their neighborhood or it was the most visible. You see, in Honduras, if the police catch you with a tattoo, it is an immediate four years in prison… needless to say, you would not want to be caught with that brand on your body. The most troublesome are on your fingers or face or lower arms. And, of course, these were “premiere.” The trouble was that the big bad tough boys were afraid. Can you believe it? The guys and girls you would think would be the toughest on the planet were afraid. Many had tried to erase their past before. Most of them tried to erase their physical signs of the past (their tattoo’s) with battery acid, hot irons, or programs that tried to electrocute the ink out of their skin with cheap little machines that were nothing more than torture units, leaving the person with no hope, scars, and many fears.

You may think to yourself, this is a total waste of time, to remove these tattoos; they are just doing it to stay out of trouble with the law. We are just a means to their survival. I can tell you that this is so far from the truth. It was obvious that these men had turned their lives over to God. They were helping others and making a new life. Some are preaching. Some are trying to help their friends get out of the gang too.

Herein lies the problem. Many of them did not trust us, or our removal methods, because they had been “burned” literally and physically in the past. No trust. No faith in the system. No hope in the future. Many hid their past with shirts, makeup and artificial means. It is no different than the way we hide our sins. We try to cover them up with any means possible. We pretend to be something we are not. We hide who we are. We worship together with our Christian family, yet we never let anyone see who we really are… In fact we deny it ourselves, just like Peter did when he was asked if he knew Jesus.

I am guilty as charged. Many times I pretend to be someone I am not and I forget that I am HIS. I belong to Him and only Him. Today a man came into have his tattoos removed who has only known his Lord for four years. He is the only gang member left in Honduras who has 18 tattooed on his face. This facial tattoo indicates leadership. Every other gang member in Honduras has been imprisoned or killed for this.

You may not know the beginning of the story; the gangs of Honduras killed the President's son. He set out to “Fix the problem.” The military was sent in to every place where gangs were known to reside and they were wiped out by all means necessary. This went on for several years. The President of Honduras had finally had enough. The end result of this change of heart was the purchase of the very tattoo machine that I have been holding in my hands for the past five days. He literally paid for it. Unheard of in a third world government but because of Tim Hines’ diligence for two long years, we were given the opportunity to take this project. The very man, who had persecuted for so long, sought rehabilitation and grace for the very men that killed his son. (Sound like a familiar concept??)

It is so much like what God offers us as sinners. He offers light in a world of darkness. To remove the tattoo, we have to use a light that is so bright; you can’t even look at it without special goggles. Our eyes simply can’t take it. As you put the bright light into the darkness of the black ink of the tattoo, the darkness begins to disappear. Soon the darkness is replaced by light. It is not perfect but it is nothing like it was before. Within an hour of the laser light treatment, the tattoo looks almost the same as it did before we started. But it is ever-changing as our walk as disciples of His. The dark ink will gradually be carried away over the next 6 weeks out through the persons’ circulation. By the time we see them again in 6 weeks; over half of the ink will be gone. If the person continues to return for treatment of the laser light, by their choice, the darkness will be gone forever. Continually putting light into our lives will forever change us for good and continually push out the darkness.

Every person who came in to see us today to have a tattoo removed today had an unbelievable story. But one person stood out above all the rest. He was a leader. “1” is tattooed on one cheek and “8” on the other, indicating the gang # 18. He had 600 people under him to do his bidding. As, we were removing his tattoos today, we asked him, “what in your past do you feel the most guilty about?” After a time, he told us a story. A girl in his gang broke a rule. She had begun to “hang out” with a man in a different gang. This is simply not allowed. As a leader and creator of the rules, he had to take care of the problem personally. You see, he knew her since she was a child; they grew up together, were friends and had a trusting friendship. The night he went to kill her, she greeted him with a hug and genuine welcome. She walked with him to her death. Stabbed 27 times by himself, he cut off her finger and put it in his pocket to take back to his “gang family.” As he walked away, he could feel it there. He regrets that she had no idea what was coming, never guessed his intentions as he walked with her. We asked him if he had asked God for forgiveness. He said yes. We told him that if he had asked with a sincere heart that God had forgiven him and forgotten everything that happened that day and he should forget it too.

The joy of serving these men comes from the fact that you KNOW they are changed for God. You can tell by their words, actions, and deeds. It has been an honor.

Serving Him with you.

Gayle Davidson

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new Creation, the old is gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

PS We travel tomorrow to work with a group in a different part of the country. Keep the x gang members in your prayers, that they will continue to seek the light in a world full of darkness.