Men with long braids and rings in their eyebrows fill the Basie Ballroom at the Kansas City Marriott. A few women, hair peroxide-blonde or tar-black, sport skimpy halter tops that reveal tattoos of flowers and colorful butterflies. The country's most acclaimed body-piercing artist shows off pictures of his new house outside of Albuquerque and tells a story about going hiking clad only in cowboy boots, socks, and skull-and crossbones boxer shorts. ("I like to buy my underwear around Halloween.") Welcome to Tattoo Rendezvous '99, where 40 or so tattooists have gathered to tout their wares. It's an unlikely place to find a strong Christian witness. But along the back wall, under a banner advertising Cherry Creek Flash, sits Rand Johnson, vice president of the Christian Tattoo Association. He hasn't come to do any tattooing, though he does decorate plenty of skin at his tattoo parlor in Willmar, Minnesota. Johnson has come to share the gospel with his fellow tattooists.
The Christian Tattoo Association (CTA) was born on a January night in 1998 in Willmar when Johnson and Daniel Ostrowski (a.k.a. Hoss, after the character on Bonanza) were sitting around lamenting the fact that there was no organization for Christian tattooists. "We were brainstorming about how many Christians in the business we knew, and we were really surprised we knew so many," recalls Hoss, now president of the CTA (he's also an ordained minister with the Association of Faith Church). Although there may be more Christian tattoo enthusiasts than one might expect—the CTA boasts about 100 members from Arkansas to Alaska, as well as from Guam, Norway, Canada, and South Africa—the vast majority of tattooists do not know the Lord. "There's probably a ...1
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