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November 15, 2019

When JR Porter is worshipping God, the devil is turned upside down—literally. The tattoo on his arm is a reminder of the life he’s left behind.

“I was a tattoo artist outside of prison. I lived my life really fast and opposed to anything related to God. I was focused on what the world could offer me.

This devil tattoo was one of my first tattoos about 20 years ago. I thought it was a cool ’50s-style retro devil. I didn’t worship the devil; I was just trying to be cool.

In every tattoo shop I’ve ever worked, I would reach a certain point of success. People came to get tattoos done just by me, and I was invited to different tattoo shops and conventions. I worked in shops in California and all over Texas, but nothing ever panned out the way I thought it would.

I got involved in a couple churches, and I remember those being the only times things came together for me. Things had a purpose. In hindsight, I see clearly how much God was working in my life.

This is my fifth year in the Coffield Unit. I’m five and a half years into a 15-year sentence. When I got here, they put me in restricted housing. I remember getting on my knees and crying out, ‘I can’t do this. I can’t do this.’ I said, ‘Lord, You took me out of that world. I’m in this one now. Show me how to do this.’

I asked for a Bible and a guy gave me one. As I read the Bible, I started getting closer to God. I had a TV in my cell, and I kept it on Daystar and TBN. I got to hear these great ministers—Pastor Robert Morris, Pastor Jimmy Evans, and many others. God gave me Philippians 4:13: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ He showed me that I could get through anything with His help. 

I’ve seen Jesus work miracle after miracle in here—in my life and in the other men. I’ve seen Him change lives. I’ve seen lives restored. I’ve seen men get through unbearable pain by His strength. I myself have been through things, and I know that Jesus is real, and He loves us. To deny that would be foolishness, and I denied that far too long.

This devil tattoo that I got 20 years ago was just a symbol of being cool. Now it’s drawing people’s attention. I hope it’s drawing them to Christ. I want them to see that no matter how far out there you may get—no matter what you may pursue—there’s a God who loves you.

I know God loves me because He’s brought me this far. I worship him for that. Being a worshipper is confirmation of the truth of His love in my heart. I know love—His love—and worship freely and fully because I have no doubts.

When I’m praising God, people have told me they notice the devil is turned upside down—literally. It’s cool to hear how that image touches people now. God is good and He’s done a lot in my life. He’s taught me how to live again.”

JR Porter is part of the Coffield Campus.