Sunday, April 15, 2018

"Out of a Far Country" by Christopher Yuan & Angela Yuan

I first heard of Christopher Yuan several years ago when he spoke on singleness and holy sexuality at my college church. I listened to the podcasts of those messages (find them here) and was really encouraged as I live life as a single woman.

I knew that Yuan had written a book with his mother, Angela, and I added it to my mental TBR list. But then I recently saw it up for review (though I don't know why, as it was published in 2011), so I snagged it.

Christopher Yuan, the son of Chinese immigrants, discovered at an early age that he was different. He was attracted to other boys. As he grew into adulthood, his mother, Angela, hoped to control the situation. Instead, she found that her son and her life were spiraling out of control, and her own personal demons were determined to defeat her.

Years of heartbreak, confusion, and prayer followed before the Yuans found a place of complete surrender, which is God's desire for all families. Their amazing story, told from the perspectives of both mother and son, offers hope for anyone affected by homosexuality.

God calls all who are lost to come home to him, and he wants everyone to pursue holy sexuality. Out of a Far Country speaks to prodigals, parents of prodigals, and those wanting to minister to the gay community.

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him." - Luke 15:20

Out of a Far Country is a fascinating memoir. Written by Christopher Yuan and Angela Yuan, it tells their stories chronologically from 1993-2011. Angela writes the first chapter, Christopher the second, and it rotates back and forth like that throughout the book.

The book begins with Christopher coming out to his parents as gay. At that point, none of them had a relationship with—or even knew much about—Christ. While you might be tempted to think this book is all about Christopher's homosexuality, it's actually much more complex than that. Angela came to Christ shortly after Christopher's coming out, and, while she definitely did not handle everything "right," her love for her son and her growing faith are evident throughout her portions of the book. Christopher's portions are more difficult to read—but also more interesting—as he details his at first euphoric life as an out gay man, his use and abuse of drugs, random hookups, becoming a major drug dealer in Atlanta, and his arrest and conviction for drug trafficking. Through all of his life, he had no use for Christ, but when he was at his lowest—serving a six-year prison sentence and newly diagnosed with HIV—he began reading the Bible, and Christ transformed his life.

I wasn't sure what to expect when picking up this book. I knew from reading other things about Christopher that he does not claim to be "cured" of same-sex attraction, but neither does he refer to himself as a gay Christian, so I was interested to see how he would handle homosexuality in the book. (The chapter "Holy Sexuality," as well as the FAQ page of his website, clearly explain his position on sexuality, and I highly recommend at least checking out the FAQ page, even if this review doesn't prompt you to pick up the book!)

This book isn't a treatise on homosexuality and how the church should respond. Really, there's only one chapter (the aforementioned "Holy Sexuality") that takes on the topic, and that's more about sexuality as a whole. More than anything, this is a book about Christ's ability to redeem someone's story. Christopher's choices led him to prison. Angela's choices led her to plan to end her life. In both cases, Christ met them where they were and drew them to Himself. 4 stars.

Content note: Christopher isn't shy about describing his lifestyle prior to meeting Christ. While his relationships and encounters aren't explicitly described and didn't bother me, they might be too much for some readers. The sections I had to skim/skip were the ones detailing his drug use. For most people, these descriptions wouldn't cross the line, but I'm really sensitive to watching or reading about drug use.

Buy the book.

Christopher Yuan and Angela Yuan travel nationally and internationally to speak at churches, conferences, youth conventions, and colleges about God's desire for prodigals of all types to return to him. Angela is a businesswoman and advocate for Chinese-American cultural causes. Christopher teaches at Moody Bible Institute (MBI). He holds a bachelor's degree from MBI and a master's degree in biblical exegesis from Wheaton College Graduate School. He is currently pursuing a doctorate of ministry from Bethel Seminary.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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