Once in alife time


As you turn the page in this issue from Prayer Life to the editorial feature, you will undoubtedly notice something a little bit different. It looks like a comic, but it’s not. It is no secret that we live in a society that responds more to images than to the written word. For several years I wondered what an issue of Alliance Life in a graphic format would look like. And here it is!

Graphic novels are not new to alife’s younger readers. Bookstores now often devote a special section to the genre—but we guarantee that the stories you will read in this issue of alife are far more in tune with the Alliance family than the often graphic graphics of our secular counterparts.

We took a graphic novel approach to alife this month to make a point about the direction of missions efforts in the 21st century. As The Alliance enters fields that require creative approaches to telling the good news of Jesus Christ, our readers must become more creative as well. We will not offer graphics like the ones in this issue every month, but, since photos from the field will be scarce and too risky to publish, you will have to use your imaginations to fill in the details.

Also, we have to admit it was fun. As we brainstormed in Barnes and Noble, surrounded by a variety of graphic novel styles and subjects, alife staff thought about all the Alliance stories that could be told with a Rapidograph and a brush rather than a keyboard and a computer. Would our readers be receptive to this “once in alife time” experience? Should we cover only those that have not been heard before or could we retell more-familiar experiences in a venue that allows readers to “see” the unseeable? Who could we ask to contribute such a great amount of work for little or no pay?

Laura Ralston sent us heart-wrenching stories about the young girls who have been brought to the Remember Nhu homes in Cambodia and Thailand, including a compilation about a girl she called “Sara” (page 10). Beryl Glass, alife’s designer since 1999, and I worked with Laurie to develop a script that would give readers a glimpse into the hope that Alliance workers and laypeople are giving to those threatened by the horror of sex slave trafficking.

Another type of story involving children touched editor Peter Burgo, himself a father of four. Alliance missionaries often face trials on the field that might tempt others to pack it up and go home. Todd and Debbie Adams were vacationing in Côte d’Ivoire from their work in Mali when every parent’s worst nightmare happened—a group of armed thugs carjacked the Adams’ vehicle with two of their children inside. To retell Todd and Debbie’s ordeal, we arm twisted Jeff Lane, a local illustrator and book designer, who chose to use minimal text sprinkled across watercolor dramatizations (page 14).

The late Sam Kim was passionate about bringing the gospel to the darkest places. Recent events in North Korea remind us that there are not only millions of lost souls in that nation but also thousands of Christians who are looking forward to the day when they are no longer isolated from their brothers and sisters in the worldwide community. Rick Hemphill, the director for Communications at the C&MA’s National Office in Colorado Springs, took Pastor Kim’s story into the bugged hotels and restaurants of a city gripped by a totalitarian regime (page 20).

Not all of this issue has “gone graphic.” But as you read about the experiences of Alliance workers and laypeople who are helping to complete the Great Commission, we hope that their work will be brought into a sharper focus as we see it through a different lens. Next month, alife will be “normal” again. So have as much fun reading this issue as we did bringing it to you!


Melinda Smith Lane
Managing editor

Past Alliance Life Issues


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