The Story Behind the Stories: Former IEP Director Publishes Book Series

Ann Boyles

Elizabeth Ann Boyles, known by Ann, retired from teaching at DBU this past December. The former teacher and Intensive English Program Director now leads Bible studies for a group of students and is currently writing her fourth book while marketing her already published fiction series, the Dragonfly Trilogy.

"While teaching in Quitman, Texas, I had some free time in the summers," Ann shared. "I decided to write a story fictionalizing the life of my great-great-uncle, who had been the first American consul in Nagasaki in 1859." She wrote Dragonfly Wings first, which is actually the second book in the series. It follows the story of the fictional consul, John Cardiff, and Sumi Taguchi, the daughter of a samurai, in Nagasaki, Japan, during the mid-1800s — a time when Nagasaki was just entering out of centuries-long isolation.

"My goal was to work the Gospel in while creating an entertaining plot," she explained. "I included a Japanese character's struggle to understand such things as forgiveness. Forgiveness was the antithesis of the samurai duty to avenge their master. Unfortunately, I didn't know much about writing fiction. When I joined a critique group of published authors years later, I kept learning all the ways I needed to change Dragonfly Wings. I revised, revised, and revised. Then I wrote a prequel, The Year of the Barbarian, which emphasized providence rather than chance." Ann explores this theme by setting the scene for the arrival of foreigners in Japan, along with her character Sumi's anticipation to meet these newcomers from the West.

Then, in the last book of the trilogy, Ann pulls the series together with John and Sumi's struggles and victories in the midst of adversity. "The third story in the series, Two Autumns, One Spring, is my favorite," Ann disclosed. "It brings in strong evidence for God and how He is present even in the direst of circumstances. It also deals with the chief cultural pressures that new Japanese Christians experience."

These chief cultural pressures are something Ann has witnessed firsthand. At one time in her life, Ann lived in Japan while working as a liaison for Campus Crusade for Christ — or Cru — after graduating from the University of Colorado. She lived in Nagoya and then Tokyo, serving as an English instructor for a few universities and leading Bibles studies along the way. During this time, Ann met her husband, Dale, at a bilingual church service, and they were soon married in Tokyo; together, they continued to bring the Gospel to Japan — a feat that was not easy, and one that Ann draws upon in her trilogy.

"There is perfect religious freedom, but the common worldview of young people is basically materialistic and atheistic," Ann recalled. "After a year or so there, I began to question whether I was right, and seemingly everyone around me was mistaken. Even though God had changed my life and answered many prayers, these doubts kept attacking. However, in studying the evidence for Jesus' resurrection and Paul's conversion and letters, I finally became assured of the truth of Christian belief. This grounding has proven extremely important in understanding where some international students are coming from and how to answer their skepticism."

A year into marriage, Ann and her husband returned to the States. She stayed home with her two young children and then began teaching fourth grade. She and Dale started a camp in East Texas, and then they moved their family to the DFW area, where Ann was hired at DBU. From 1994 to 2007, she served as the Intensive English Program Director.

"My calling and love for international students, the enjoyment of developing a cohesive English program, and the supportive environment at DBU led to my taking the position," Ann explained. "During many of the years I was the director, the leading number of international students at DBU were from Japan. Sometimes there were more than one hundred Japanese students at DBU. I do want to emphasize, however, that the students from other countries were equally dear to my heart. The highlights were always learning that an international student had trusted Christ. After I retired from being full-time, I continued teaching in the IEP for several years and began teaching an international section for Developing the Christian Mind. It was a joy to present the evidence for God's existence and for Jesus as our crucified and resurrected Savior."

Her strong faith and life experiences — including serving international students at DBU and ministering to students in Japan — bring an air of authenticity to the story she weaves in the Dragonfly Trilogy. As she reflects back on her life thus far, Ann attests to how God worked through different means to prepare her for future opportunities. "I can look back and see how working with Cru led to Japan and Dale. Then the experience of teaching in Japan and in Quitman helped prepare me for becoming the IEP Director. The reaffirmation of my faith in Japan helped prepare me to minister to international students, and all of this helped me to write the Dragonfly Trilogy."

When asked to share her favorite passage of Scripture, Ann cited John 15:5: "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing" (NKJV).

A strong reminder to rely on the Lord, this verse encourages Ann to stay close to God because of His great love. God, she shares, will turn weakness into fruitfulness. And Ann's life story is full of fruitfulness. It is not only her testimony that speaks of her genuine love and faithfulness to the Lord but the way in which she shares it: with a great passion for the Gospel and her relationship with God.

More information about Ann and her books can be found on her website. The Dragonfly Trilogy can be purchased both as eBooks and paperbacks on Amazon.

Written by Faith Myers

Faith Myers is a member of University Communications at Dallas Baptist University.