On the plane from Las Vegas, a man sat quiet and glassy-eyed. Flight attendant Anne Buck felt troubled for her passenger.
She asked if something was wrong. He looked up, drained of color, and confessed that he was on his way home to tell his wife he had gambled away their life savings.
“He looked at me as if his life was over,” she said.
Buck understands how people can get to a point where life may not seem worth living; she herself was “hours away” from committing suicide as a teenager. But she also understands the “incredible healing and restoration” of the cross, and she has launched a magazine in the Columbia area to offer Christ to those looking for an answer to lives overwhelmed by disappointment and struggle.
The magazine, Reach Out Columbia!, was born of Buck’s own experiences – first as a child who never knew a mother’s love (her mother suffered a nervous breakdown and was institutionalized when Buck was a toddler; two subsequent stepmothers failed to fill the void), and later as an adult who crossed lives with hundreds of hurting people during her 16 years as a flight attendant.
“If it hasn’t happened to my family, it’s happened to someone close to me,” she said. “I have millions of air miles and thousands of conversations and hundreds of verses I’ve memorized. It’s kind of a patchwork of man’s problems and God’s solutions.
“All the things that Jesus cares about – addiction, the fatherless, widows, mental illness, abandonment – were swimming around in my head from my own life and from many people I’d met on the plane.
“That’s why I’m doing the magazine,” she said. “I have this collective sampling of what we as people go through, and I know there are answers for everyone, and it is Jesus and his word.”
Buck began writing a column for a Christian magazine in Oxford, Miss., four years ago. She and her husband, Brent, who works in commercial real estate, moved from Oxford to Columbia with their two sons in 2003, and they joined Shandon Baptist Church. Brent noticed there wasn’t a Christian magazine in Columbia, and he encouraged his wife to start one. She resisted the idea because she had no formal training in journalism; nevertheless, she began to pray about it.
At a writers group gathering, she met poet and writer Delia Corrigan. A close friendship blossomed. Buck shared with Corrigan that God was leading her to start a Christian magazine, and “Delia’s heart was totally wrapped around it,” Buck said. “She has a deep burden for people coming to Christ and being healed of the things that come up against them. Buck asked Corrigan to “please walk alongside me and let’s do this together.” They published the first issue of Reach Out Columbia! in September 2005.
The magazine, a 9 1/2 by 11 1/2 full-color publication featuring local writers exploring a variety of subjects, is printed 10 times a year and distributed free to churches, physicians’ waiting rooms, airports, restaurants and other “high-traffic areas.” Supported by local advertising, Reach Out Columbia! has a circulation of 20,000.
The magazine is designed to present Christ in a way that is “raw and real,” Buck said. “We try not to have our magazine sound ‘churchy,’ she said. “We insist that everything be written in honesty and with transparency, but also in love.
“Our readers are not preached at. We present the Lord like you would present a banquet table. You put out your finest china and finest meal and say, ‘Just taste it and see that it’s good.’ In the same way, we ask, ‘Why not try the Lord?’ We always do it in a humble way.”
She said the magazine also seeks to “encourage a deeper love toward others” through involvement in community ministries and nonprofit humanitarian agencies. Another emphasis, Buck said, is for the body of Christ to be one. “We change churches like we change shoes,” she said, “but I think the Lord would have us, those who are truly in Christ, be of one body and one family.”
As an adult, Anne Buck eventually forgave her stepmothers and established a relationship of “complete restoration” with her second stepmother, something she was able to do only after “the Lord showed me about the cross and asked me to forgive.”
“I was so freed up and healed from that, and that’s one of the bottom-line forces for this magazine. The cross is the answer to everything. It’s what fills the hole in your heart.”
For more information about Reach Out Columbia! magazine, visit ReachOutColumbia.com.