Out of a Far Country

There’s a new book out in May titled Out of a Far Country by Christopher and Angela Yuan. The book is a fascinating look at Christopher and Angela’s lives that spans from the time Christopher (or “Chris” at that time) “came out” as gay to his mother through his involvement in the drug scene in Atlanta and, eventually, his experience of redemption, a road that providentially took him through prison. It is a remarkable story, one that Christopher shares with humility and gratitude for what God has done in his life. It is the story of the Prodigal Son, which is what the title refers to, except this story is from the point of view of both the son and the mother. I suspect many readers will be encouraged by what Christopher and Angela share, particularly given where they are today, but the challenges they faced would test any mother’s faith.

The format of the book is that Christopher and Angela write separate chapters and take turns walking the reader through that time in their lives. The format works; reading how both of them experienced key events from their own point of view is fascinating. Their accounts provide unique insights but they do not cover the same time period too much, so it is not redundant in that sense.

When it comes to some of what I research around sexual identity, the importance of how a person forms their identity and whether they label themselves by their attractions or explores other identity resolutions, Yuan shares the following:

I had learned that I could live without sex, but what about my sexuality? Did I have an identity apart from my sexual orientation? I really struggled with this, especially my first year in prison. For the longest time, I knew that God had created me this way – gay. I had told myself over and over, I am gay. I was born this way. This is who I am . I never chose to have these feelings. But now, as I searched the Scriptures for the way I should live, I began to ask myself a different question: Who am I apart from my sexuality? I didn’t have an answer.

This is often a central issue for those who are sorting out sexual identity questions in light of their religious identity. There are no easy answers to this conflict, and the more the local church comes to understand that, the more hope exists for compassion and support.

Today Christopher working on his doctoral degree at Bethel Seminary, having completed degrees at Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College. He frequently speaks to others about his journey. His mother, Angela, is today a partner in his ministry and often joins him on his speaking engagements. You might find his web site helpful and informative.

CAPS National Conference 2011

Several students and faculty members from the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at Regent University are presenting at the Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS) National Conference this weekend in Indianapolis. The theme of the CAPS National Conference is “Resilience and Renewal.”

  • Donald Walker, Ph.D. will present a paper entitled: “Treating Trauma in Christian Counseling: An Agenda for Research and Training.”
  • William Hathaway, Ph.D. will give a presentation entitled: “Executive Functioning, Self-Regulation, and Spirituality.”
  • Glen Moriarty, Psy.D., along with colleagues from BIOLA university will give a presentation entitled: “Client God Images: Theory, Research, & Clinical Practice.”
  • April Cunion, Psy.D., Jennifer Ripley, Ph.D., & Vickey Maclin, Psy.D. will present a paper entitled: “The Impact of Hope Focused Marital Therapy on Common Couples Violence.”
  • Vickey Maclin, Psy.D., Ryan Adams, Tiffany Erspamer, and Chelsae Roby-Pistello will present a paper entitled: “Perspectives on Mental Health from Elderly Caucasians and African Americans.”
  • Jennifer Ripley, Ph.D., Vickey Maclin, Psy.D. Audrey Atkinson, M.S., Brittany Rainwater, Tiffany Erspamer, Alicia White, Tabitha Sierra, Camden Morgante, Katherine Chisholm, Hilary Pethtel, & Brittany Montes will present a paper entitled: “Religious Accommodative Couples Therapy: Ethics and Clinical Considerations.”
  • Trista Carr, Psy.D., & Mark Yarhouse, Psy.D. will give a presentation entitled: “Sexual-Minority Christians: Data Exposition and Clinical Considerations.”
  • Camden Morgante, Jennifer Ripley, Ph.D., & James Sells, Ph. D. will present a poster entitled: “Grace and Trust in Couples Therapy.”
  • Tabitha Sierra  & Jennifer Ripley, Ph.D. will present a poster entitled: “The Efficacy of Hope Focused Couple Therapy with Military Couples.”
  • Justin Dewberry, M.A., along with a colleague from Palm Beach Atlantic University will give a presentation entitled: “Measuring Therapeutic Change and Spiritual Formation with the Means of Grace.”
  • Donald Walker, Ph.D., along with various other colleagues will give a presentation entitled: “Faith and Trauma: Promoting Client, Family, Therapist and Church Resilience.”
  • Glen Moriarty, Psy.D. Jennifer Ripley, Ph.D., & William Hathaway, Ph.D. with a colleague from Rosemead School of Psychology will give a presentation entitled: “Integrating Faith and Psychology: 3 Psychologists Tell Their Stories.”