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  • Writer's pictureMegan Greenwald

Kingdom Still Comes in a Tattoo Parlor in Antigua, Guatemala.

Before I get into things, I need to say that I am aware that not everyone will agree with what I am about to say, and I’m learning that that is okay. My heart is to share all that the Lord is revealing to me during this time, and that is a TON. I want to share about the liberating realizations that He has given me in hopes that some of you will find freedom in these words, even if it means others of you wholeheartedly disagree with all that is about to follow. I am learning that if a single person comes to know Christ or better understand His heart through a part of my testimony, it is worth the chance of others possibly changing their views about myself. I pray that what I am about to say speaks to each of you and opens your eyes to how the Lord is moving here, even on our “vacation”, but if it doesn’t I just want each of you to see that my heart is for the Kingdom and for how God is showing me that looks, and that my heart is not to be controversial or offensive in any way. Here goes! :)


If some of you don’t know, I am currently in Antigua, Guatemala (well until tomorrow, that is lol) for midpoint debrief. Both of our teams are together as one squad, we have been here since Monday or Tuesday, I don’t remember. Our squad mentor, Jodi, and “parents”, Dan and Ruanne are here to meet with us. We have been doing one on ones with them as they check up on how we are and what the Lord is showing us. We have been doing squad worship and prayer and teachings. The point of debrief is to reflect on all that the Lord has done in these past six weeks, rest before going into our final six weeks, and just be with God and find out His heart for the rest of the trip. His heart for me, His heart for my team and my squad, His heart for the ministries that we are about to partner alongside, for the cities of Guatemala City and Chichicastenango, and for the country of Guatemala as a whole. Basically debrief is a big reset button, a refresher to get us pumpeddd for the rest that God has for us! It has been amazing rest for every part of our beings, our bodies are enjoying beds with sheets and blankets and pillows, HOT showers(!!!), and sleeping in! Our minds are resting from the 8-5 ministry days that we have been apart of five days a week for the last six weeks, and our spirits are resting in the Lord and soaking in His goodness. Apart from the scheduled group sessions that we have in the mornings and at night and our individual one on ones, we have free time to be a tourist and explore or take a nap if you prefer, try out all of the amazing coffee shops and food places, shop at the market and bargain for native clothing, anddd get tattoos. Yeah. 

 

I have shared a ton about fear and the bondage it has kept me in for the majority of my life. I have shared about how the Lord is stripping me of that false name. Of how He’s renewing my mind and taking my anxieties and pushing me past my fears. It is the most liberating thing I have ever experienced and I am stoked to know that this will probably be something He will continue to free me from, to some degree, for the rest of my life. I believe I have shared about how needles were my biggest fear for all of my life. When first hearing about the Race, the idea that I would have to get shots in order to go was seriously something that I considered keeping me from going, I was willing to forfeit all that the Lord had for me in this season so that I could continue to run from my fears. Thank the Lord that He pushed me past that. As I began seriously considering the Race and knowing that I would have to get shots for it, I began to really work with the Lord on my fears, especially of needles. I thought of a tattoo idea probably about eight months ago now, and designed it the same day. Growing up, I always said that I would never get a tattoo in my life, I may have even thought that it was a sin at some point, but as soon as I designed it, God put so much meaning behind it for me. I designed a cross, with the word “love” intertwined in the line of the cross, because as 1 John 14:8 tells me, Perfect Love casts out all fear. He gets rid of my fear, not only of needles, but all of my fears and anxieties too. It would be a reminder to me of what 2 Timothy 1:7 tells me, which is that God has not given me a spirit of fear, but He has indeed given me a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind. 

 

Even after designing the tattoo and wanting it for many months, I held back from getting it.. because of fear. Ironic, right? I was hesitating to get a tattoo that was supposed to be a testament of how the Lord has taken my fears, because I found myself worrying what people would think of me even though I wanted it very badly, and knew that it would be an amazing conversation starter and doorway for me to share my testimony. For a while I even believed a lie that told me that having a tattoo could deter my husband from wanting to marry me one day if he doesn’t like them. Don’t worry, I showed that lie up by getting the tat on my wedding band finger lol.

 

There were quite a few of us on the squad desiring to get tats while here at debrief so prior to coming some of the girls researched a place that would be safe and professional. We found a place and all planned to go together on the first afternoon we were here, all like 11 of us. It didn’t work out for us to all go on the same day, so this entire week we have had like two groups of people hanging at the parlor per day. At first we thought that it was simply because we had a schedule to follow of one on ones and sessions and worship to work around, but we soon learned that wasn’t the case. Our God is a god of good intentions, and it was His plan to have 11 (I think it actually ended up being 14) young missionaries from the States sit in a tattoo shop for hours at a time this week and reveal Kingdom there without us even realizing what was going on. I love how God is glorified even in our cluelessness of His working. 

 

The first group must have shared with the artists and the staff, all of which were absolutely incredible – not just in their work but also in their kindness, I felt like a friend – btw, that we were missionaries because when my group went, Marcelli heard the staff speaking amongst themselves about the good work that we are doing here as missionaries. I was going to have to get my tattoos done first because I had somewhere to be afterwards, so while they were being printed and sized, my sweet teammates prayed over me right there in the lobby and just thanked God for the freedom that He has given me from my fears, and asked that all nervousness would leave as I stepped into a moment of victory celebrating all of the fear that He has ridden me of. The parlor was blaring music through the speakers, and we asked if there was any way that they would let me choose what music they played so that I would remain calm. At first they looked a little perplexed and definitely hesitant, but then they agreed. We turned on some worship music because I just wanted to have this time with God! I wanted to jump up and down and shout for joy and dance like David over the freedom that I was experiencing. I seriously could not contain myself, except I had to because one arm needed to be still while I got stabbed with a needle lol. Sitting in the chair with Rachel as the guy was tattooing my arm, I was able to worship the Chain Breaker while doing something that chained me could never dream of. It was one of the sweetest moments of worship of my entire life as I lifted my free hand to the Lord, cried over and sang about His goodness. The coolest thing is, my artist, Alish, knew English. Not only was this man who I learned believes in and worships the goddess of the moon able to spend countless hours this week with Christian missionaries who I believe were able to change the stereotype of what a Christian looks like to him, but He was able to witness our prayers of thanksgiving beforehand, and our worship of the Father. The Lord even had me bless Alish as I accidentally left a 50% tip before heading out (100 quetzals and 10 quetzals look very similar).

 

What if walking out in our freedom is the very thing that draws others in? What if we were known as a free people, not a people who live by the law in which we claim that Jesus has freed us from? I wonder if there would’ve been seeds planted in not only Alish’s heart, but also in the hearts of all the staff, if we had not gone. If I would have been too worried about what christians would think of me if they saw me, a fellow Christ follower, walking out of a tattoo parlor. 

 

I know without a shadow of doubt that they saw Jesus in every single one of us that stepped into their shop this week, and I was reassured that my God wants to use us to chase down people like Alish from the tattoo parlor.

 

And after all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

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