August 25, 2014 in Events
Wednesday, August 27, 6:30 pm, Room 108
The Ink180 Documentary is a captivating film about the work of Chris Baker, founder of Ink180 Ministries, and his God-inspired odyssey to help sex-trafficking victims and former gang members escape their pasts.
Chris’s life-changing ministry covers gang and human-trafficking tattoos, transforming painful reminders of destructive situations into beautiful art. Don’t miss this powerful story of one man seeking to minister to “the least of these.”
(Not recommended for children under 14)
Please enjoy the following blog post to learn more about Chris Baker and Ink180, originally published on February 20, 2013.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. - 2 Corinthians 5:17
Imagine sitting in a job interview, ready to present your best self to the human resources person across the desk from you. Now imagine that every stereotype that you could possibly fit into is projected onto your forehead for your potential employer to see and you know that no matter what you do or what you say, you won’t be able to convince the HR rep that that’s not who you are — and even if it was, you’re not that person anymore.
That could be what former gang members and victims of sex trafficking feel like when trying to restart their lives. They have radically changed their lives, but all someone can see is marks of their past — tattoos.
Back when Chris Baker had a job in warehouse management, his co-workers use to always tell him they wished they could get rid of their tattoos because that just wasn’t them anymore. And those statements stayed with Chris.
But it wasn’t until he was leading his youth group at Big Life Community Church in Oswego in a service project that involved cleaning up gang graffiti that the idea for INK180 started to form in his mind. That project made Chris realize that the graffiti and walls were like tattoos and gang members — they signified the gang’s territory and property.
While growing up in Los Angeles, Chris Baker fell in love with the artwork of tattoos and has been a self-described tattoo collector since he was eighteen. A friend offered Chris an apprenticeship at his tattoo parlor after seeing Chris’s drawings; he’s been hooked ever since. Chris, his wife Lisa, and their children moved to Chicago about seven years ago, looking for a city with cultural diversity and a community feel. But he kept doing tattoo art as a hobby and part-time job. So when the idea that tattoos were a symbol of someone’s old life came to mind that day with the youth group, Chris began to pray to God to show him what he was meant to do. He says that God answered his prayers with a question: What do you love to do more than anything, and will you do it for free? Chris realized the answers were ‘tattoo art’ and ‘yes’.
And so INK 180 was born. It was October 2011 when Chris finally put it all together. Chris decided to create an organization that takes tattoos from former gang members and victims of sex trafficking and either removes them, through NeoMagLight IPL Tattoo Removal, or uses them as the foundation of a new tattoo — either way getting rid of the visual reminder of the past.
Chris originally rented out space in various shops around the city and suburbs to do the coverups, but now he is about to open the first INK 180 facility in Oswego, IL. The new space will be used for INK 180 coverups and removals, but will also be a regular tattoo business to be able to support INK 180. Chris talks with each client to determine how the new tattoo should be based on their own journey, and where they want to go in the future. INK 180 has done over 540 coverups since it started and Chris does several removals and coverups a week. INK 180 is made up of a team of volunteers, including Chris’s friends and family, and members of his church. Chris has gotten referrals from various sources — previous clients, probation officers, and churches among them. Chris says that the Gospel is shared with every client and each client is given a Bible, as well as verses for them to focus on.
Although Chris enjoys his work at INK 180, it hasn’t always been easy. He says lots of tattoo artists have been angry with him for what they perceived to be taking away their business. Chris counters those claims with the fact that most of his clients can’t pay for these removals and coverups themselves. Chris has also received death threats. Through it all, he reads Ephesians 6:11 and remembers that he is doing everything for the glory of God. But some even disagree with the spiritual aspect of his work. They argue that God is against tattoos and question if what Chris is doing is right. He counters their claims with two verses that speak of names being written on God Himself: Isaiah 49:16, where it says the names of God’s children are engraved on His hands; and Revelation 19:16, where it says Jesus will have King of kings and Lord of lords written on his thigh.
INK 180 has held events in the past and Chris has been invited to speak at various other organizations’ events, such as Traffick Free, Stop Child Trafficking Now, Urban Youth Outreach, and Transitions Global. When he speaks, he shares his testimony and shares stories of previous clients, but he also tries to instill within the audience the desire to use their gifts from God to incite change where they live and also educate them on the issue of local human trafficking. He has also talked to college classes relating to law enforcement to talk about his experiences with government agencies.
Chris has so much planned for the future of INK 180. He hopes it will become a nationwide organization that provides coverups and removals free of charge to former gang members and victims of sex trafficking. So far there are talks of INK 180 starting in North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Indiana, Oregon, California, and Arizona. Chris calls it “a revolution of unleashing RADICAL GRACE upon people that have been labeled as the castoffs of society.” Chris is also in the middle of writing a book about “the stories of change and redemption” of his clients. He plans to change names and locations to protect his clients but each chapter will describe how each person turned their life around to follow Christ. Chris has also been approached to do a reality show — but he insists he will only agree to a show on his terms: that discussions about God and the Gospel will be included and that there will be no fabricated drama – only the true stories of his clients, which are dramatic enough.
When asked how people can get involved with INK 180, Chris says prayer — prayers for his clients, for health and safety of those involved with INK 180, and for humans to stop destroying one another. He also says donations will help with the cost of supplies and transportation costs of clients. But he is hoping that the INK 180 facility will eventually be able to fund the organization itself.
Chris and INK 180 are also involved in Chicago neighborhoods, trying to preempt gang violence. Chris says he works with Urban Youth Outreach in Englewood, building relationships and ministering to local gangs. Chris speaks to people in Urban Youth Outreach, as well as youth groups and schools, to talk about INK 180 and to talk about how to avoid falling into the gang lifestyle. INK 180 clients also speak to young people about their experiences to help the audience understand the consequences of bad decisions.
With help from INK 180 and Chris Baker, former gang members and sex trafficking victims now have a chance to turn their lives around and move on from their past.
Use the links below to connect with INK 180: