For Steven May, operating Holy Ghost Tattoo in Madison Township is about more than beautifying clients’ skin with colorful and creative designs.
In fact, May derives even greater satisfaction from helping meet the spiritual needs of those who visit her store at 6659 North Ridge Road.
“The whole business is really for evangelism,” May said. “People are always welcome here. They don’t have to spend a dime. Anyone who needs prayer, companionship or community, we are here.
May, who has around 25 years of experience as a tattoo artist, opened Holy Ghost Tattoo in early October. He said he was not the sole owner of the business.
“Do I own this myself?” No. I guess the real answer is, it’s really me and the Lord, ”May said. “I felt called to do this. “
A major turning point in May’s personal and professional life came about six years ago, when he accompanied her son to a church service.
“My son came to the Lord before me,” May said. “I lived in a very secular and liberal place, and I loved living this life.”
At first, May said he didn’t feel any urge to follow his son’s path to Christianity. But that changed one night when May agreed to go to church with her son.
“It wasn’t something that was going on in church service or something that someone said, or a song, or whatever,” May said. “I literally felt the Holy Ghost fill me, and that’s it from then on. I was just sold for the Lord.
May’s religious conversion took place at a time when he owned a tattoo parlor in Kent. He ultimately decided to sell the business as part of his commitment to be a true Christian.
“I really felt like I had spent my life glorifying the enemy against God,” May said. “Everything I have done has directed people to the enemy and not to God. And I really wasn’t aware of it. But quickly – within a few months – I was like, I can’t do this. I prefer to work at Burger King.
May said he also reached a point as a business owner where he grew weary of managing employees. So after selling the shop in Kent, he did freelance work as a graphic designer and worked as a freelance contractor doing tattoos in various salons.
As he pursued these various efforts, May said she felt God was urging her to open another tattoo shop and use it primarily as a place of evangelism.
“Sometimes on the days when I was least willing to testify, the Lord used me the most,” said May. “So I really felt an anointing on my heart to open a place. I kind of avoided it for a long time, and I kept feeling (God) pushing me over and over again.
About six months ago, May was in Madison Township walking past a store with a rental sign in a small plaza at 6659 North Ridge. He suddenly felt that God was commanding him to open a tattoo shop in this exact location.
“I ignored it for a bunch of reasons, but (God’s prompting) kept happening again,” he said.
May said that on another occasion, while driving near that same store, God put even more pressure on him to open the tattoo parlor in that particular location.
“There was a traffic jam here at the corner (of North Ridge and Hubbard roads) and a tractor-trailer couldn’t turn properly, so all the traffic had backed up,” May recalls. “And I was stuck, and the only thing I could see out my window was this place with the rental sign.” And finally I gave in and said, ‘All right, Lord, I’m going to do it.’ “
May said he does a lot of tattoos and evangelism after starting Holy Ghost Tattoo about two months ago.
“Since I got here, there hasn’t been a day that someone hasn’t come to pray, or ask about Jesus, or have a conversation with me about Jesus,” did he declare.
May said he doesn’t have any specific strategy he uses to get Jesus to talk to clients.
“And here’s why: because Jesus is so part of my life that he will just come out of it,” May said. “I’m not going to give you some sort of formula where it’s like, ‘You have to be saved.’ You’re going to hear from the Lord, if you talk to me, I think it just came out… the Lord is going to come out in my conversation, because He’s in every part of my life.
May said he welcomes all clients who come to Holy Ghost Tattoo, even if they don’t believe in God.
“In my mind, all of them are carrying images of God whether they recognize him or not,” he said.
However, May draws the line when it comes to the types of tattoos he will create. He refuses to do tattoos that make fun of God; reflect opposition to Christianity; or have anything to do with sex, drugs, paganism or witchcraft, to name a few no-go areas.
May displays some of her best tattoos on her store’s Facebook page. He also has an Instagram account where he showcases other outstanding samples of his work.
“Instagram is a platform where all images are taken into account, so it’s kind of a standard in this industry,” he said. “A lot of people who are interested in this art form, it’s their choice.”