Out of a Far Country- Hope for Prodigals from Christopher Yuan

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This year at Rooted 2019, we will be joined by Dr. Christopher Yuan. Dr. Yuan will give one of our plenary talks, entitled “Holy Sexuality and the Gospel: Not Gay to Straight But Death to Life.” Dr. Yuan summarizes his talk this way:

We all know someone who identifies as gay. How can Christians better engage with our loved ones and friends in the LGB community? How does the gospel shape our understanding of sexuality? Without any compromise of truth or grace, Dr Christopher Yuan combined his life experiences and his theological training in biblical languages to bring fresh and meaningful perspective on this meaningful topic.

Looking ahead to the conference, we wanted to share just a few excerpts from the book Out of a Far Country, which Yuan wrote with his mother Angela Yuan. Describing themselves as “two prodigals,” mother and son take turns narrating the story of their family’s disintegration and God’s redemption:

Out of a Far Country speaks directly to anyone who has wandered for any length of time. It’s a blindingly true story that will resonate with prodigal sons and daughters, and with the parents of prodigals. This story is sometimes heartbreaking, and often raw in its honesty. The battle that is sometimes waged over a person’s soul is lengthy and hard fought, and the outcome is not known until after the wounds have been suffered.”

Angela struggled in a broken, silent marriage, desperate to hold on to the two sons who seemed to be her only hope for meaning and connection. Younger son Christopher rejected his parents, their way of life, and their dreams for him, choosing instead to immerse himself in the gay club scene and eventually developing a lucrative drug business. None of them knew or wanted to know Jesus, and Angela was on the verge of suicide when a pamphlet from a priest opened her eyes to the gospel:

“It was a Christian Booklet, but for the first time I didn’t want to avoid it simply for that reason. I was captivated by every word. The book explained that God loves everyone – even homosexuals – because of who they are, not what they do. I had never heard this before.”

The pamphlet went further, and Angela began to see God loved her too:

“As I continued reading, I realized I wasn’t reading it for Christopher. Even though it was written for people who had homosexual feelings, I felt like the booklet was written for me. It spoke about death, the death that was a result of our brokenness, our failures. Our imperfections. Instead of our dying, Christ died for us so that we wouldn’t have to die…. Then I read a statement that seemed to pierce my deadened heart. Nothing can separate us form the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Nothing? You mean God loved… even me?”

Both Christopher and Angela share honestly about the years that followed. While son descended into drug dealing and eventually prison, mother learned both the depths of God’s love and the depths of anguish she could feel for her son. But mother and son were met by the God who restores our broken relationships and redeems us from our sinful pasts. Christopher gratefully wonders at how God’s mercy met him in prison:

“The thought that God could restore me and bring me back from captivity resonated deep within my spirit…. For the rest of my life, I was going to live with this felony on my record – like a permanent stain branded on my soul. But with God it seemed I had no record; I had no debt to be paid; I had no shameful past. I wanted that. Just the possibility of hope and a future seemed to brighten my gloomy cell and improve my dreary morning.”

And he marvels at how his parents persevered in prayer, enabled only by God’s grace:

“And the countless hours in prayer my parents had spent on my behalf. I had seen my mother’s knees, brown and calloused from kneeling in her prayer closet. And the pages of my father’s Bible worn from thumbing through God’s promises. They’d done this for me, their son who stormed out almost eight years ago, yelling that he had a real family – his gay friends. But my real family, as it turned out, was my real family.”

Dr. Yuan will also lead a workshop, “The Bible and Same- Sex Relationships” in Chicago. Join us at Rooted 2019 to hear this godly man share his journey with our good God!

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