The following in an excerpt from our FamilyLife Today® interviews with Christopher and Angela Yuan.
Dennis Rainey: Together, Christopher and Angela Yuan have really forged quite a team. They travel and speak, both nationally and internationally, at churches, conferences, and youth conventions. Angela is a businesswoman and specializes in Chinese-American cultural causes. Christopher teaches at Moody Bible Institute. Together, they have written a book called Out of a Far Country. It’s subtitled, “A gay son’s journey to God. A broken mother’s search for hope.”
Bob Lepine: Angela, when had you begun to become suspicious about Christopher and his sexuality?
Angela Yuan: Actually, that was back when he was 16 years old. He had some kind of relationship with an older man, and we went to counseling. We thought that was taken care of after a couple of sessions of counseling; but in the back of my mind, I was always afraid that this would come back again. So, when he came back [to visit home after a year in dental school in Louisville] I confronted him.
Dennis: You’d found a pornographic videotape in his bedroom?
Bob: Did you confront him with it?
Angela: Yes, we did. … Then, after I asked him, “Are you still … ?” he said, “Yes, I am gay.” You have to realize, I was not a Christian at that time. The only thing I could do was threaten. I said, “Either you choose homosexuality or you choose your family.” … Christopher just said, “I cannot change. If you cannot accept me, I have to leave.”
Bob: You thought, when you confronted Christopher, he would say, “Okay, I’ll leave all this behind because family is that important to me.”
Christopher Yuan: You know, for Chinese, we view family to be very, very important; and yet, at that age, I thought: “I’m not Chinese. I’m American! American is about being independent. I don’t need my family.” Besides, this was such a core part of me that, “If you can’t accept me, I have no other choice but to leave.”
Dennis: Had they responded with how Christians ought to respond in a situation like this—out of compassion, out of love, out of concern—do you think it would have made any difference?
Christopher: I think it would have. I think it probably would have surprised me … I was walking away from everything that was important—family. Yet from my perspective, I was just disowned from my parents.
Christopher: Rejected. And not at all to justify my actions, but that was my perception.
Bob: Angela, you said that you were not a Christian, growing up. Had you had any spiritual development, at all, growing up?
Angela: Not at all.
Bob: Did you have any concept of God?
Angela: I heard about the word “God,” but I had no concept.
Bob: So, when Christopher said, “I’m leaving,” you responded from tradition and from the values that your family had held, growing up, but not from any spiritual foundation, right?
Angela: … You know, I think I just felt embarrassed—shame … I felt betrayal.
Bob: Christopher, when you got back to Louisville with this newfound liberation—that opened up the door for you to fully engage in the gay lifestyle. Before, you had kind of been tentative; but now, there was nothing holding you back. You started clubbing, and school really became secondary.
Christopher: Well, you know, I wouldn’t have said it like that; but definitely, when I look back, I thought I could have both. … Unfortunately, I also got involved in doing drugs while I was going to dental school. Because I didn’t have a lot of money, I then began to sell drugs. And that—like you said—it just opened the door. Sin always has a way of finding you. You don’t have to go looking for it.
Finally, after some time, the school noticed that my grades were being affected. Also, my attendance had dropped. They had put me on probation. They had actually suspended me. Finally, I was just about three months before receiving my doctorate, and they expelled me.
Dennis: Meanwhile, Angela, you were watching all this spiral down in your son’s life. This had a different impact on you.
Angela: Yes, because during that time our marriage was broken, also. We were in the process of doing the paperwork for a divorce. I just felt there was no reason for me to continue to live. I decided to end my life.
However, I felt the need to meet with a minister. Again, remember I was not a Christian. I had no religion background. For some reason, I wanted to see a minster. My husband was teaching at Loyola Dental School, and there’s a chaplain. I went to see him. He gave me a book on homosexuality.
I took the book and got on the train. I bought a one-way train ticket to see Christopher for the last time. I wanted to say goodbye to him before I ended it all.
On the train, when I was reading [the book], it helped me to realize God’s unconditional love. That was the Holy Spirit working in my heart. For the first time, I understood the meaning of unconditional love. We are all sinners; but God still loves us, in spite of our sin.
So I could love Christopher, in spite of him living as a gay man. God was changing my life … I was on the train for hours and hours. Then, after I got off the train … I contacted a lady [listed on the back of the book] and she began to disciple me.
I went to see Christopher, too. I was able to say, “I love you.” Before, I didn’t want him. I felt he was rebellious. …
The lady discipled me for five weeks—I rented an extended-stay apartment in Louisville. After I went back home, my husband realized the difference in me. He started going to church with me. We went to a Bible study called Bible Study Fellowship together. Through God’s Word, both of us just began to grow deeper and deeper in the knowledge of God and His Word.
Dennis: Christopher, how did that impact you [when she came to visit you]?
Christopher: Well, she didn’t tell me she was coming. She surprised me at the dental school. I just thought, “What are you doing here?” … But when she said, “I love you,” I knew that there was a difference … I was really taken aback.
Dennis: I think the message is clear to every parent who may have his or her hopes dashed by a prodigal—who doesn’t necessarily follow in their footsteps or follow the teaching that they’ve given them. The route to take is the route of love—the route of compassion. …
And I would say to the listener today, who has tuned in and perhaps heard a portion or all of this story: Regardless of what you’ve done, no matter where you are, no matter what lifestyle you’ve chosen—there is a God who loves you, who gave His Son, Jesus Christ, who died on a cross on behalf of your sins so you could be forgiven. He defeated death and is alive today. Because He’s alive, He can forgive you. He can offer you the free gift of eternal life. It is yours for the taking if you will accept Him, just as Angela did.
To learn the rest of the story, click here to listen to the FamilyLife Today interviews with Christopher and Angela Yuan.
Copyright ©2013 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.