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Sharing God’s word through henna tattoos

Henna tattoos storytelling

E is on initial Home Assignment with plans to move to South Asia in mid-2018 to begin her first term as a CMS missionary. However, before she became a CMS worker, she was a Mentac apprentice and discovered a creative way of cross-culturally sharing Bible stories with non-believers.

Telling Bible stories is a wonderful technique that we can use to share about Jesus in an engaging way. A few years ago, while doing CMS’s Mentac traineeship, I started offering henna designs that complemented the Bible stories. Henna is a plant-based paste used to make a decorative stain on skin that usually lasts one or two weeks–much like a temporary tattoo. Henna is a important part of many cultures in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, where women often use it for celebrations.

I took ideas from the Henna Stories website, then practised telling Bible stories while doing each design. They were particularly effective at festivals and our church market day. We were meeting lots of people and the attraction of a henna design meant many were willing to hear a story from the Scriptures straight away. Having something visual to focus on makes telling the story to a stranger less intense. I think it may also help make the story more memorable. A woman once approached me at our church market day saying, “I remember last year you told me a story about a son who left his father. When the son returned the father welcomed him back, but the older brother was not happy.”

Another time, after doing the story of the sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet, I asked a teenage girl what the story teaches us about Jesus. She replied, “He can forgive sins.” It was only a brief encounter, but through the henna design, she heard a little more of the beauty of Jesus.


Could you go and tell all the nations? Mentac traineeships are a great way to find out if long-term cross-cultural mission could be for you, while also providing you with an opportunity to learn new ministry skills and reach out to your neighbours in Australia. Find out more about being a Mentac apprentice here.