Lance & Megan's Blog

Portraits of Formation: John Washington


“A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit”

~Ancient Greek Proverb

From his shirt, tattoos, and wall hangings, I felt this portrait really spoke of John’s personality.

-John Oliver Washington 

-Part time stay at home dad, Part time tattoo artist

I met John quite a few years ago while he lived in Ukraine with his family.  At the time he had just finished his (second) Discipleship Training School (DTS), an introductory school to Youth With a Mission. I instantly loved this guy. His desire to serve others and care for orphans was evident and infectious. At the time of this interview, he and his family were back living in England, where they are from. Here is a chat that we did over social media:

Where have you lived from when you were born till now?

England, America/Bosnia (only 6 months, DTS ? ), England, Switzerland/Egypt (another DTS), England, Ukraine , England 

So mainly England and Ukraine?

Have you always been artistic? Or was it something that you learned?

I have always liked drawing but never felt like I was good enough or a natural at it. 

But it was the subject that I did the best in at school.

As an adult, only since I started getting into tattooing, have I found a style of art and painting that I’m passionate about. It’s important that art has a purpose (so for me my paintings to be tattoos for people makes it worth spending the time creating them.) 

As to whether my art is learned or a gifting I feel like it’s a mix of both. ?

I asked John to take me to the place where he thinks. He sat in this chair.

What purpose do you think your art serves?


It provides an income for me and my family. It brings joy to me as the creator and also in a different way to the receiver.  

I think with tattoos for the wearer it can bring increased self esteem and even to some degree identity.

What kinds of conversations happen when you tattoo someone?

Mostly it’s kinda small talk, chatting about the customer’s job or life. The pain of getting tattooed is talked about a lot! 

I have returning customers who I get to know better and they become similar to friends. We chat about life and all sorts of things from politics to faith and everything else pretty much. 

I like to take the opportunity when it comes up to talk about Jesus but I don’t ever force it into conversation.

If you could say something to Christians who struggle with the morality of tattooing, what would you say?


Probably just “oh well, different strokes for different folks”

Something like that.

If they wanted a discussion about it I would tell them to look online, there are plenty of people spouting their opinions there.


I feel it’s a hard one because it’s like a lots of things in life. I feel like it comes under the personal convictions banner. Great for one, shambles for another. 

I would also say that in my experience as I have traveled this journey with God, talking to him about tattooing. My understanding is this. 

Tattoos are skin deep. Just flesh and blood. These things will soon all perish just as our bodies will. Our tattoos are no more eternal than the clothes we wear or the hair on our heads.

In the context of you living out your Christianity, how has your work impacted your Christian walk? Have you learned anything about who God is and who you are?

I have a better understanding that God is a provider in all things. In missions it was easy to see we relied on him for money and money came (and other stuff of course). But with tattooing God provides cool customers who want the sort of tattoos that I like doing. He provides through giving me the ability to do the job, be creative and skillful.

He is in the every detail when we seek him and often his grace covers the times when we forget to ask. 

My work has given me a better understanding of God’s Grace. 

50 or so years ago the church in the West could not have conceived that God would bless and provide for tattooing but here I am and I see his provision. It’s undeniable. I pray for specific things and he enables me or brings those things to pass. It shows me a side to God that he is outside our boxes of cultural confinement. He blesses us in the details but I’m not sure the details matter to him so much. His pursuit is me. And I see that and my great fullness increases.

I am in a better place with God and spend more time with him daily than I have in years.

That’s a lot but doesn’t even begin to explain any of it really. 


Do you have any more comments or anything you would like someone reading this to know?

God loves us. Jesus is very important. Faith in him is everything. Thank you. For reading ? Over and out, Bye bye, Paka paka, Done Fini!

Awesome! Thanks for your openness. I really love what you are doing. It has been a huge honor for me to do this. Blessings on you and your family.

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