These folks are a true first generation American success story. Having immigrated from communist China, they have both been highly involved with Bible Study Fellowship International. In fact, listen to this. The Yuans were part of the pioneering team invited by the Chinese Communist government to start Bible study fellowships for the locals in mainland China, and that's another story. This family has experienced unspeakable hardship, but they have been carried through by God's grace. Now, today on Family Talk, I'm pleased to introduce this presentation and I hope you'll find a quiet place to listen to Christopher, Leon, and Angela tell their story.
Dr. Christopher Yuan: I think we would all agree that homosexuality is one of the most relevant and yet controversial topics of today. And yet Christians, we feel ill-equipped on how to engage well on this conversation. And more importantly, how do we share the good news of Jesus Christ to the LGBT community? We are in a culture war, and yet our God reigns. Our God reigns and He continues to radically transform the lives of people and of families who have been impacted by homosexuality, families like mine. For my childhood years, I did what most Chinese American kids did, obey your parents, do well in school. And of course, practice piano. You see, I didn't fit in with the other American boys. I looked different. I acted different and I had different interests. God had given me the gifts of music, of sensitivity, and Satan cannot take away those God-given gifts.
However, he can twist the perception of them. And from a young age, I was viewed and ridiculed as being effeminate. The first time I remember having these attractions was when I was nine years old after I came across pornography at a friend's house, at nine. At that young age, I was confused and afraid of those feelings. Without any parental guidance on sexuality, those magazines gave me a distorted view of sex, and they soon became my master. Unfortunately, with the pornography fueling my attractions, I had my first encounter when I was 16 years old, but I kept my feelings hidden through high school, college, even the Marine Corps Reserves. In my early twenties, I started secretly going out to the gay clubs in Chicago. Then when I moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where I started dental school, I no longer kept it a secret and I came out of the closet. I began living openly as a gay man.
Spending most of my free time in the gay clubs, I went from relationship to relationships, seeking intimacy and happiness, which I found temporarily, but it still left me feeling unfulfilled and unsatisfied. So, I began experimenting with drugs. Now, not all gays and lesbians do drugs and promiscuous. Some do, some do not, but actually it goes to show that if you encounter the living Christ, He will impact every aspect of your life. Well, I was a dental student, which meant I didn't have much money, so I had to support my habit of doing drugs, and I did that by selling drugs. And I sold it to friends, classmates, even a professor.
See, I actually thought I could live this double life of being a graduate student by day and a promiscuous drug dealer by night. But three months before I was to receive my doctorate, the administration expelled me. So, my parents flew from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky, and I thought they were going to fight to keep me in school. You see my dad, he's a dentist. And he knew the dean really well. All they needed to do was to threaten a lawsuit and I'd stay in school. Besides, isn't that what any good Chinese parents should do anyway?
Well, to my surprise, as we sat there in the Dean's office, my mother looked at the dean and said, "It's not important that Christopher becomes a dentist. What's more important is that Christopher becomes a Christ follower." And they said that they're going to support whatever decision the school made. They knew that nothing was more important than their children knowing Jesus Christ. Nothing, including an education and even a career. Well, can I tell you I was not at all happy about their decision. They were not on my side; they were on the school's side. So, I moved further away from them, further away from Chicago, to the bright lights and big city of Atlanta, Georgia.
And there, I quickly took on the drug scene in the gay community. I became a supplier to other dealers in over a dozen states. In addition, it was nothing for me to have multiple anonymous sexual encounters each and every day, because according to the world, I had it all, money, fame, drugs, and sex. I had exchanged the truth of God for a lie. And that began worshiping and serving the creature rather than the creator. Because in my world, I had become God.
Angela Yuan: Leon and I had no idea that Christopher was doing drugs, but we knew his biggest need was to know Jesus Christ as his Lord and savior. So, I sent him Christian cards several times a week, and I filled them with the encouraging words, Scripture, and hymns. At the bottom of each card, I signed, love you forever, mom. But little did I know he never read them and simply tossed them into the trash.
Leon Yuan: My wife and I knew only way to see our son was if we flew to Atlanta. So, we did, but on the second day, he kicked us out. Not even allow us to call our friend to pick us up. Before leaving, I want offer Christopher my very first Bible. Not surprisingly he refused, but I left my Bible on his counter anyway and walked out the door. We found out later he took my Bible and threw into the trash. It was more than obvious that he was totally unreachable and completely hopeless, but my wife and I committed not to focus on the hopelessness, but on the promises of God.
Along with over a hundred prayer warriors from our own church and from the Bible Study Fellowship group, we cry out to God for Christopher. And we knew that it is going to take a God-sized miracle to turn things around. So, my wife began to pray a very bold prayer. "Lord, do whatever it takes to bring this prodigal son to you." In her desperation, she fasted every Monday for eight years and once fasted 39 days for Christopher. Every morning, she would literally spend hours in her prayer closet, reading her Bible, interceding for Christopher. She wrote out some of her prayers and following is one of those prayers.
Angela Yuan: "I will stay in the gap for Christopher. I will stay until the victory is won, until Christopher's heart changes. I will stay in the gap every day and there I will fervently pray. And Lord, just one favor, don't let me waver. If thing get quite rough, which they may, I will never give up on my son, nor will you. Though the enemy seeks to destroy, I will not quit. As I intercede, though, it may take years. I give you my fears and tears as I trust every moment I plead." I prayed those prayers for eight years and it seemed that God was not answering them. But during those years, God did answer my prayers, just not in the way I expected.
His answer for me was "Wait, be still, and know that I am God." Looking back upon those years when I pray for change, God did bring change. The change was not yet in Christopher, but the change was in me and my husband. What God intend for that time was that we will be changed, that we will be transformed, that we will be trophies of God's mercy. Oswald Chambers said, "We are not here to prove God answers prayer, we are here to be living monuments of God's grace." As we live out all of those years of waiting, we learn to walk and live as monuments of His grace, as God drew us to Himself each and every day.
Dr. Christopher Yuan: Often, answer to prayer doesn't come quickly. And this definitely was not an exception, but my parents were unwavering in their faithfulness to intercede on my behalf. Like the persistent widow, my mother bombarded Heaven with her prayers. She knew that it would take nothing short of a miracle to bring this prodigal son to the Father. And a miracle is exactly what God did. This miracle came one day with a bang on my door. I opened up my door and on my front doorstep were 12 federal drug enforcement agents, Atlanta police, and two big German Shepherd dogs. I just received a large shipment of drugs, not my largest, but they confiscated all my money and my drugs. And I was charged with the street value equivalent of 9.1 tons of marijuana. With that amount, I was facing 10 years to life in federal prison. I had started with the bright future among society's finest in academia. And I found myself in the ditch among society's despised in the Atlanta City Detention Center.
So, I tried calling my friends. You know, those type of friends that say, whenever you need something, just give me a call. Those friends that actually get me more into trouble than they're any good for me. Well, what I didn't know was I had a praying mother at home. Watch out and she knew as long as I had those type of friends around, I would find no need for God and no need for my parents. And remember she loves bold prayers where she prayed specifically years ago that somehow, some way God would cause all of my friends to desert me. And on that day, not one friend answered my collect call. So, your mothers, beware of your prayers, they're gonna come true. So, I was down to the bottom of the list, home, and I did not want to make that phone call as I imagined the earful that I was going to get on the other line. But actually, my mother's first words were, "Son, are you okay?" No condemnation, no berating words, just words of unconditional love and grace.
The Apostle Paul says in Romans chapter two, verse four, that it's "God's kindness that leads us to repentance." Notice that it doesn't say God's anger, doesn't say God's wrath, but it's God's kindness that leads us to repentance. And even on that miserable day, God was pouring out His grace and drawing me to Himself through the words of my mother. Actually, my mom was excited to get that phone call, if you can believe it or not, because I hadn't called home in years. And she knew without a doubt that this was God's answer to her prayers. So, she hung up that phone fighting back the tears. She knew she had to do just as that good old hymn says, Count your blessings, name them one by one. No matter what storm she was going through, no matter what heartache she was enduring, she had to count her blessings.
So, she set the phone down. She reached out next to the phone, was a calculator and she tore off a little piece of the adding machine tape. And she wrote down these first blessings. "Christopher is in a safe place compared to before. And he called home for the very first time." As my years in prison passed, she kept adding to this list and counting her blessings and taping more pieces of adding machine tape to it. And today this list of blessings is longer and taller than she is. Both sides.
Three days later, I was walking around the cell block and to be honest, I was trying to do my best to stay to myself. I didn't want to mingle too much with those really bad people, those criminals because I didn't think I was a criminal. And I passed by this garbage can. In jail, they don't take the garbage out every day, so it was a mound of trash. And I looked at this trash and I thought to myself, this represents my life right now. You see, I'm from upper middle class suburb of Chicago. My father has two doctorates. I was only three months away from receiving my own doctorate. I had it made, but now I found myself among common criminals.
I was about to pass by that garbage can, but something on top of a trash caught my eye. I bent over, I picked it up, and it was a Gideon's New Testament. I took that New Testament back to my cell and I opened up that good book for the first time I read the entire Gospel of Mark that night. But can I just tell you, I was not thinking, this is the Word of God. I wasn't even thinking this will be the answer to some of my problems. Actually, I was just simply thinking, I've got an enormous amount of time on my hands and I better pass it somehow. But as many of you know, what we have in our Bibles is not just ink on paper, but what we have in our Bibles beloved is the very breath of God. And it is living and powerful and sharper than any double edge sword, able to do the hardest of hearts, exposing my sin, my rebelling, and it wasn't in pretty sight.
Then I thought things couldn't get any worse. I was wrong. A couple weeks later, I was called into the nurse's office. They handcuffed me, chained my hands around my waist, shackled my feet together. I shuffled into the nurse's office. The nurse shut the door behind me, sat me down and I just knew something wasn't right. She was uncomfortably struggling with the words. She couldn't even give me eye contact. So, she resigned to writing something on a piece of paper and slowly slid it across the desk to me. I looked down and there's a piece of paper and I saw three letters and a symbol, HIV positive.
Angela Yuan: A few days before Christmas, I received Christopher's phone call from jail. The noise in the background could not cover up his sad and hopeless words. "Mom, I am HIV positive." His solemn and weak voice fell off. As my body went limp, I felt dizzy and the world around me seemed to stop. Ever since Christopher told us he was gay, I had lived with constant fear that Christopher might one day contract this deadly virus. My worst nightmare was now a reality. Christopher was sentenced to six years in federal prison. The news of his HIV status was like a death sentence. A verdict I could not accept. Hang up the phone, the pain so great tore in my broken heart, like a knife endlessly. I stumble up the steps and drag my heavy body into my prayer closet. This affliction was more than I could bear. In the silence of my sorrow, a melody began to play in my heart, the soft and sweet streams of a hymn filled my ears and repeat over and over. It is well. It is well with my soul.
Dr. Christopher Yuan: (singing) When peace like a river, attendeth my way. When sorrows like sea billows roar. Whatever my lot has taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.
Leon Yuan: Please sing with us.
Dr. Christopher Yuan: (It is well (it is well) With my soul (with my soul). It is well, it is well with my soul.
Leon Yuan: One more time.
Dr. Christopher Yuan: It is well (it is well) With my soul (with my soul). It is well, it is well with my soul.
A few days after receiving that devastating news, I was in my cell all to myself and I was just contemplating the mess that I've made in my life. I lay down in my bunk and I just looked up at the metal bunk above me and there's graffiti, profanity, gang symbols. But someone had written something in the corner and it read, "If you're bored, read Jeremiah 29:11. For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
You see it the most hopeless point in my life, God was using the words penned by a prophet thousands of years ago to a rebellious nation, Israel, to tell me, to tell me that regardless of who I was and what I had done in the past, He still had a plan for me.
Roger Marsh: You've been listening to Family Talk and that was the first half of Dr. Christopher Yuan's powerful and moving testimony. I really like the fact that this has become a family story for the Yuans and I cannot wait to hear what happens in their collective testimony tomorrow. Christopher's parents are both strong Christians and they watched in distress as their son fell into the entrapments of sin. However, Angela, his mother dedicated much of her time during those years to praying and fasting for her son, Christopher, asking God to do whatever it took to bring him to the cross of Christ. And as you know, we serve a God who hears and answers our prayers.
Now, if you missed any part of today's program, you can listen to it again at drjamesdobson.org/familytalk. That's drjamesdobson.org/familytalk. Or give us a call anytime at (877) 732-6825. Well, that's all the time we have for today for this Monday edition of Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk, make sure you join us again tomorrow to hear the conclusion of Christopher Yuan's powerful testimony. And from all of us here at the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute. Thanks so much for listening. Thank you for your prayers and your support of this ministry. And may God continue to richly bless you and yours.
Announcer: This has been a presentation of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute.