A Gay Son’s Journey to God

with Christopher Yuan and Angela ...more | March 25, 2013

Often the road God takes us on has unexpected twists and turns. Christopher Yuan, a professor at Moody Bible Institute, reflects back to the day when he finally “came out” to his parents and drove resolutely away, ready to fully embrace the gay lifestyle he knew back at University of Kentucky where he was a dental student. In despair, his mother, Angela, tells how she turned to a God she’d only heard about to find peace, joy, and hope for her family.

Often the road God takes us on has unexpected twists and turns. Christopher Yuan, a professor at Moody Bible Institute, reflects back to the day when he finally “came out” to his parents and drove resolutely away, ready to fully embrace the gay lifestyle he knew back at University of Kentucky where he was a dental student. In despair, his mother, Angela, tells how she turned to a God she’d only heard about to find peace, joy, and hope for her family.

A Gay Son’s Journey to God

With Christopher Yuan and Angela ...more
|
March 25, 2013
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: When Christopher Yuan moved away from home and went to dental school, he entered a world his parents knew nothing about—a world of drugs and homosexuality. Eventually, Christopher started dealing drugs to others.

Christopher: It was so enticing. There’s power behind having something that other people want. Not only do you want people to like you, as a person—but if you had a commodity that people wanted and they flocked to you—that gave me power. That gave me fame—that gave me control. The more I did that, the more I felt like I was invincible.

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, March 25th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Christopher Yuan and his mother Angela join us today to share about Christopher’s descent into a very dark place. Stay tuned. 

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. I’m just curious—have you ever been—ever felt bad that you have kind of a boring testimony? [Laughter] I mean, it is—it’s kind of a boring testimony.

Dennis: Well, I never had it put quite like that, honestly; but it is a pretty simple testimony of how I came to faith in Christ. When I hear a story like the one we’re about to hear today, I can’t say that I wish I had a testimony like that, necessarily, because of the pain that it represents in a lot of different directions. I’m just glad I have a testimony. I’m glad that I know Jesus Christ; and He tracked down me, as a prodigal, and brought me to Himself.

We have a mom and her son—Angela Yuan and her son, Christopher. Welcome to our broadcast.

Angela: Thank you.

Christopher: Thanks for having us on.

Dennis: Together, Christopher and Angela 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.

I have to say, back to what you talked about earlier, Bob. This really is a great story of redemption. I’m going to begin with you, Christopher, because you were a dental student. You were on your way to becoming a dentist at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. There was a trip back home that you made that became a life-altering trip—not only for you—but also for you, Angela. Take us to that trip and explain what happened.

Christopher: Well, it was a year after I had moved to Louisville, Kentucky. At that point, you know, I was in my early twenties. I had a secret that I had kept from—a long time ago—from when I was, you know, in grade school. I finally thought, “Well, this is my time to no longer keep it a secret and to truly find who I was.” That is what I was thinking.

In that first year while I was in dental school, I came out of the closet. Those struggles—that I had from a young age—the first time I remember having those feelings—I was about nine years old—came across pornography. This was back in the ‘70s. So, it was before there were even computers or internet. That was the first time that I realized I had these feelings.

Bob: When you saw pornography, your attraction was to the men in the pornography?

Christopher: Yes; yes. I wouldn’t say that pornography was what caused this, but I definitely believe that pornography was a catalyst to awaken things in me that should not have been awoken at nine.

Dennis: You were 22 years old at the time; right?

Christopher: Yes, I was 22—just turning 23. I had a few weeks, during the summer, before I had to go back for summer school. It was actually the weekend of Mother’s Day. So, I went home. My mom, actually, kind of had suspicion because she had found, in my bedroom at home, some pornography that I had hidden. She confronted me that trip.

Bob: Angela, let me turn to you. When had you begun to become suspicious about Christopher and his sexuality?

Angela: Actually, that was back when he was 16 years old. He had one incident. 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, one year after dental school, I confronted him.

Dennis: You’d found a pornographic video tape in his bedroom?

Angela: Yes.

Dennis: As a mom, when you discovered that—

Angela: Actually, when I saw that a video tape was hidden behind a crawl space, I was even afraid to look at it.

Bob: Yes.

Angela: I asked my husband to look at it. So, when my husband looked at it, he said, “Yes, it is that.” He did not even want to use the word. When he said, “It is that,” I was just totally devastated.

Bob: So when Christopher came home, you had found this video.

Angela: Yes.

Bob: Did you confront him with it?

Angela: Yes, we did. I was hoping my husband would, but he didn’t. So, I spoke up. Then, after I asked him, “Are you still?—”he said, “Yes, I am gay.” You have to realize, Bob and Dennis, 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.” I cannot even imagine. Christopher just said, “I cannot change. If you cannot accept me, I have to leave.” That was a total shock to me. We thought, “Family—for Chinese—it is family.” That is most important.

Bob: You thought, when you confronted Christopher, he would say, “Okay, I’ll leave all this behind because family is that important to me.”

Angela: Exactly.

Bob: Christopher, that’s not what you said.

Christopher: 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: Christopher, you had said earlier, that during that first year in dental school, you had come out.

Christopher: Yes.

Dennis: As you came home on that Mother’s Day to see your mom and dad, had you planned on talking with them, and coming out with them, and sharing with them what you were experiencing?

Christopher: It wasn’t a plan, but I definitely was ready. I felt like this was the next step in coming out of the closet—in my journey of accepting that this was really who I was. I wanted to tell my parents. I didn’t want there to be any more secrets. I had already heard a lot, from my friends, the horror stories that they received from coming out to their parents—what they received from their parents.

So, in my mind, that was the story that was going to play out. I probably provoked it a little bit because let’s think about it—if my parents had said: “Oh, that’s great! Let me come and meet all your friends!”— Well, that meant I still would have to have parents over my back. But if I could cut them off, then that was complete independence; and I could do whatever I wanted.

Dennis: It made it easier.

Christopher: It made it much easier.

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, for one because even though—and the reason why, in our book, we wrote it from two perspectives—my mother wrote a chapter; I wrote a chapter—because we wanted to show how it was the same situation but completely two different perspectives—because from my mother’s perspective, I was walking away from everything that was important—family. Yet, from my perspective, I was just disowned from my parents.

Dennis: Rejected.

Christopher: Rejected. And not at all to justify my actions, but that was my perception. Oftentimes, when we look at prodigals, we think, “Why in the world are they acting the way they’re acting?” Often, it’s their perceptions—though their perceptions might not be reality—but it helps, sometimes, to get under the skin of the prodigals to see, “That’s why they’re acting so irrationally,” or something that we would not understand because I felt like I was the victim in that situation—even though I really wasn’t.

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: No, not at all. You know, I think I just felt embarrassed—shame—I think shame was more than anything else. Naturally, I felt angry and shame. I felt betrayal.

Dennis: You know, it’s interesting, Christopher, to hear you contrast a Chinese approach to family with an American approach to family. I found that to be very, very fascinating because you talked about how your family, from a Chinese perspective, was everything; but, as you’d learned in America, you needed to be independent. You needed to be able to exist on your own. In essence, breaking from your family represented life.

Christopher: Yes. I think we get that—certainly, being raised not in a Christian home—we’re taught independence, from grade school: “You have to be yourself;” “You have to respect others.” It’s about achieving what you want. That is so much focused upon the person and not focused upon, first, God, and then the family and the Church.

Dennis: Right.

Christopher: So, yes, as important as that is, we’re completely missing the God-aspect.

Bob: You didn’t drive back to Louisville, from Chicago, with any sense of loss or shame. You drove back with a sense of empowerment and liberation; right?

Christopher: It was freedom. I felt that the apron strings were cut. This was it! I could now be completely free to do whatever I wanted to do. Besides, I had not only my friends back in Louisville that I was coming back to—who, in my mind, loved me, and accepted me for exactly who I was. They didn’t judge me. They didn’t look at me as strange. Also, I had this relationship that I thought I was coming back to.

Dennis: So, you were moving in with another guy, at that point?

Christopher: Yes.

Bob: When you got back to Louisville, with this new-found 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. I wanted to have my day life, which was pursuing a doctorate in dentistry. I was a professional student and had it all together. But then, in the evenings, I would be going out. I was a bartender. I would be working at these gay clubs. Certainly, I always want to give the caveat that not all gays and lesbians are promiscuous, and do drugs, and go out to the clubs; but that definitely is part of my story. Unfortunately, I got involved in that. 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.

I began selling drugs, while in dental school, thinking that I could have both—the graduate student life and living as an openly-gay man in the gay community. Well, 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: Wow! Meanwhile, Angela, you were watching all this spiral down in your son’s life. This had a different impact on you.

Angela: Yes.

Dennis: This was devastating.

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 pamphlet, 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, and I realized that God is the Creator. I was on the train for hours and hours. Then, after I got off the train—from the back of the pamphlet—I contacted a lady, and she began to disciple me. I went to see Christopher, too. I was able to say, “I love you.”

Dennis: Wow!

Angela: Yes. Before, I didn’t want him. I felt he was rebellious. I hated him; but I wanted to say, “Goodbye,” to him. But because of that pamphlet, I was able to understand. During that same time, 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, I have to ask you—when your mom got off that train—I mean, the last words you had heard from her were, “Get out of our family!”

Christopher: Yes.

Dennis: “I’m ashamed of you.”

Christopher: Yes.

Dennis: Now, you are confronting a born-again follower of Jesus Christ, who has the love of God in her heart.

Christopher: Yes.

Dennis: How did that impact 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?” because I’m thinking: “You are ruining my freedom! You’re really getting in the way of my goals.” But when she said, “I love you,” I knew that there was a difference because—before I left, I sensed that there was anger, and bitterness, and a “How could you do this to me?”-attitude—but now, when I heard, “I love you,” 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.

Christopher: Yes.

Dennis: You can still stand for the truth. You can still believe in right and wrong. You can still hold to your convictions; but the love that changed my life was the Hound of Heaven, Who chased me down and loved me unconditionally. Angela—

Angela: Yes.

Dennis: 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, to make that statement—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.

Bob: You know, I don’t want to give away the rest of the story—but as our listeners can probably imagine—with Christopher sitting here, as well—eventually, you surrendered to Christ, as well. You’re going to share that with us this week. Let me just point our listeners to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. There’s a tab on our website—over on the left-hand side—that says, “TWO WAYS TO LIVE”. If you’ll click on that tab, it lays out the two paths that are set before every one of us—the two choices we make about how we’re going to live our lives.

It would be good for you to read through that; especially if you’d like to know more about what Angela’s talking about—surrendering her life to and following Jesus as her Savior, her Lord, and her Master. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on that tab that says, “TWO WAYS TO LIVE”. And look for information about the book that Christopher and Angela have written called Out of a Far Country. It tells this whole story, and it’s a powerful story. We’re going to be hearing it this week. You can order a copy of the book from us. Again, it’s called Out of a Far Country, by Christopher Yuan and his mother Angela. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to request a copy; or call, toll-free:1-800-FL-TODAY. That’s our number: 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.

You know, as you were sharing about coming to faith, I was thinking about our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway. One of the things we do, at the Weekend to Remember,is we present the Gospel. We present it in the context of the marriage relationship and how, ultimately, that’s the foundational issue that has to be settled in order for marriage to be all that God intends for it to be. I don’t know how many of our listeners realize this—but we have three or five percent of the folks, who come to a Weekend to Remember, who will make a first-time profession of faith in Christ, at the Weekend to Remember.

One of our key goals for this event is to clearly present the Gospel so that folks can respond and come to faith in Christ. The thing is—you know the people in your neighborhood, in your office, at your child’s school—people who don’t go to church—but they might come to a Weekend to Remember. You know them better than we do. So, this week, our team has decided that we’re going to celebrate Easter by teaming up with you to share the Gospel with your friends.

If you would invite your friends to come with you to a Weekend to Remember this spring, in any of the cities where we’re hosting a conference this spring—or even next fall—if you’ll pay for yourself to come, we will pay for your friends to come. We want them to hear the good news of Christ. So, if you have friends who don’t go to church, and you think they might come to a Weekend to Remember, and you’re willing to invite them and bring them, all you have to do is sign up for a Weekend to Remember. Write in my name in the promo box—just write in “BOB”—and we will send you a certificate so that your friends can attend an upcoming Weekend to Remember marriage getaway with you, as your guests and as our guests. We’ll kind of team up on this; okay?

Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and look for information about upcoming Weekend to Remember marriage getaways. Pray about somebody you might invite. Again, as long as you’re willing to sign up and attend the event, we’ll cover the cost for your friends. Make sure that we have their names so that we can be praying for them, as well, in advance of the Weekend to Remember; okay?

Now, I want to make sure that you’re going to be back with us again tomorrow. We’re going to continue to hear Christopher Yuan’s story. His mother Angela will be with us, as well. I hope you can tune in.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. 

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