Book Review: Out of a Far Country
This book is a modern retelling of the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
Christopher Yuan is joined by Angela Yuan, his mother, in telling this story of two prodigals who are redeemed by Christ. It is a Prodigal Son story, which details the way the prodigal spent the wasted years, and how years of faithful prayer are answered.
Christopher went by Chris before he was redeemed. He lived the quintessential "gay lifestyle," filling his nights with sex, dancing, and drugs. These things became his idols, and he didn't think he could live without them.
Having believed from an early age that he was gay, Chris "came out" to his parents expecting them to respond with the typical hysterics and hatred. He wasn't disappointed, as he watched his mother break down and his father withdraw and remain silent. Chris walked out on his family to join the LGBT community, who had become his "real family" in his mind.
Angela Yuan was broken completely as she watched her son walk away from her and abandon all the dreams she had for him. She felt like she had failed him, failed in her marriage, and failed life. In her despair, she made plans to end everything. She just wanted to see Christopher one more time before she took her own life.
Read the incredible story of how Christ worked to redeem both Angela and Christopher out of sin. Prodigals with different sin, both had to reach rock bottom before they turned to their heavenly Father. If you are a prodigal, or if you have any prodigals in your family, I highly encourage you to read this book. No matter where a person is, they are not beyond the love of God. This book is a great reminder to never give up hope.
As I read this book, I was forced to confront my own prejudices towards the sick, sinners, criminals, and prisoners. The story of Angela and Christopher made me reflect on the truth that we are all sinners. Those who have "public sins" are in no more need of redemption that those who have hidden sins.
The discussion questions are excellent. They helped me to identify my own idols, just as Christopher had, and to surrender them to Christ. I've recommended this book to many who are praying for the prodigals in their own family. We have discussed the chapters and questions from this book together, and have been encouraged by them. This story is a reminder that prodigals are never beyond God's love, and that it's never too late.
The Father has been welcoming back prodigals for a long time. Here is the story of the Prodigal Son as told by Jesus Christ in Luke 15:
And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
"But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
God redeems prodigals.
Christopher and Angela now 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.
For me, the chapter about "Holy Sexuality" was the most insightful. Christopher's reflections on giving up his idol of sex reminded me of my own calling to holy sexuality. The opposite of "homosexuality" is not "heterosexuality," it is "holy sexuality." Christopher has been living out his calling to be sexually holy. He is now an example to me of how to pursue that same calling.
This book encourages me in pursuing godliness.