“It’s not the typical territory where you would figure your average middle-class, white boy would end up,” says photographer Bill Youngblood about the alleyway in which this issue’s cover was shot. But perhaps it was a good thing he didn’t know it at the time.
When he went to pick up the processed film at the lab, Bill discovered his pictures had caused quite a stir. “How did you get Crips and Bloods together in the same photograph,” one lab worker wanted to know. In his spare time, this technician was shooting documentary photographs of Los Angeles-area gangs. He told Bill that normally, members of black gangs and members of Hispanic gangs would not be on the same site without violence. Bill, however, knew these were ex-gang members whose lives had been changed by Jesus.
Reflecting later on the potential danger of working with ethnically mixed models on strange turf, Bill remembered that Victory Outreach minister Robert Alvarado had brought with him to the site about a dozen more people than were needed as models. Was that “phalanx of extra subjects” there as “muscle” in case of trouble?
As Tone Head, pictured in Bill’s photograph on page 16, regaled him with tales of “preaching the gospel at the point of a gun,” Bill realized just how low some people sink—economically, emotionally, and physically—before they come to Christ. “Those of us who grow up in the white, middle class,” he said, “have trouble realizing what turning to Christ really means for many people.”
DAVID NEFF, Senior Associate Editor1