Leadership Profile: Christopher Yuan, Speaker, Bible Teacher, AIDS Activist, USA

Q. Tell us about your family.

A. God has allowed me to be undivided in my devotion and service to him as a single man. With this blessing, I have the freedom to travel and speak where God calls me. Both my parents were born in China, raised in Taiwan, and came to the U.S. for graduate school in the mid-1960s. I delight in seeing the family of God grow by regeneration and transformation.

Q. Give us a brief overview of your work and ministry.

A. What many would consider their worst nightmare has become a reality for me. While attending dental school, I began living promiscuously as a homosexual and experimenting with illicit drugs. Within a few years, I was expelled from dental school, imprisoned for drug dealing, and discovered I was HIV positive.

But God has turned my nightmare into an exciting and inspiring story of redemption, grace, and transformation. I have an understanding heart for and a desire to minister to those working through issues of sexuality and to those living with HIV/AIDS. I speak locally and internationally to youth, on college campuses, in churches, and in prisons.

I graduated from the Moody Bible Institute in 2005 and the Wheaton College Graduate School in 2007 with a MA in biblical exegesis and am currently pursuing a DMin at Bethel Seminary. I teach at Moody while continuing my speaking ministry, which has reached four continents around the world. I have spoken at churches such as Saddleback Church in California and Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois and at conferences, including InterVarsity's Urbana and the Moody Pastors' Conference and Men's Conference. I am also featured in the award-winning documentary, “HOPE Positive: Surviving the Sentence of AIDS.”

Q. What is your favorite quote?

A. 1 Timothy 1:16: “Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate his perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in him for eternal life.” This is such a great example of God's patience with me and the grace he poured out upon me in order for me to leave a life which did not know him to a life which would lead others to him.

Q. Who has been the most influential person in your life/ministry, and why?

A. Apart from Christ, that would be my mother. She is such an amazing example of godliness and perseverance. I have yet to meet anyone who is more of a prayer warrior than she is. She relentlessly interceded on my behalf like the persistent widow. She fasted every Monday for seven years and once fasted thirty-nine days for me. 

George Verwer, founder of Operation Mobilization, is also an influential person in my life/ministry. He will often call to ask how I am doing spiritually and hold me accountable. He is a man who is transparent and he is a man of prayer. He encourages me to stay balanced.

Q. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

A. One of the best pieces of advice I've received was from scripture, “Be holy, for I am holy.” As I was trying to understand my new faith in Christ along with my sexuality, it wasn't the six passages in scripture condemning homosexuality which impacted me the most. Rather, it was the plethora of passages which urged me toward holy living—and this meant denying myself, picking up my cross, and following him (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23). It meant saying no to feelings which I never asked for, never chose, and may never completely go away. But saying YES to Christ and saying YES to a joyful obedience toward purity and holiness. This meant putting my sole identity not in homosexuality or even heterosexuality, but in Jesus Christ alone.

Q. What one issue do you believe is the greatest barrier or opportunity to evangelism, and why?

A. The late Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, said, “Homosexuality is not only the number one social issue of our time but also the very thing that will hinder our ability to preach the gospel in this and future generations.” I believe this is so true. Now, more than ever before, people are being turned away from the gospel because of the Christian stance upon homosexuality.

Evangelism. On Point. 

Q. Describe a time in which you shared your faith
in Christ with someone who didn’t know him, and
then saw God clearly work in that situation.

A. My time in prison was an extremely fruitful time
in reaping in the harvest. But my burden is for the
LGBT community. I do not have any big numbers
or large success stories. And I thank God that he
does not measure us the way the world would
measure, with numbers and success stories. What
has been the greatest encouragement to me are
friends who I have known before I came to Christ
(who are gay activists and hated Christians as I
did) tell me that they have a great aversion toward
organized religion but find me different. And what
I have articulated is very reasonable. Although this
would not be a huge success story, I believe that
God is working in them and I hope that if we could
each reach one or two people who are LGBT or like
those described in unChristian, we would make a
huge difference in preparing the soil for others to
reap in the harvest.

David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, in their book unChristian, state that the Church is viewed as anti-homosexual. This is distinctively different than being anti-homosexuality. Anti-homosexual connotes being against gay and lesbian people. Unfortunately, we are working against the curve and have a lot of work cut out for us not only to reach the LGBT (lesbian/gay/bi-sexual/transgender) community, but also to win back our next generation who see us as anti-homosexual.

Q. What book do you most often recommend to others to read, and why?

A. I have been greatly challenged by unChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. It points out the realities of this generation. I also was challenged by Reggie McNeal's The Present Future. It helps us to remain balanced and not get stuck in “churchiology.” My mother and I are working on our own book, which will be released in the spring of 2011 by Waterbrook Multnomah. It will feature our journeys as parallel narratives: from a parent's perspective and from a prodigal's perspective.

Q. What would you like to be doing in ten years?

A. I actually stopped trying to plan my life because it got me into trouble before! The one thing that I would like to find in myself in ten years is remaining faithful to God and to my calling.

Q. How can people be praying for you?

A. Please pray for my health as the HIV has progressed and I will most likely begin medication soon. There are many possible side effects, and with my busy schedule it may be quite difficult. Please pray that I cling to Christ regardless of my circumstances and struggles. Pray that every day I will be drawing closer and closer to him and that my transformation would be more and more evident in the eyes of people I don't even know!