You would never think that three simple words could cause so much pain within the family. It was May 17, 1993, after his fi rst year in University of Louisville School of Dentistry, our son Christopher told us, “I am gay.” Those three words changed our lives forever. But the timing could not have been worse for my wife Angela and me.
When I heard Christopher say he was gay, the pain I experienced was like I had received news of his death. My husband’s response was, “Let him be! There’s nothing we can do about it. Besides, isn’t it more important to be happy?” But my response was quite different.
Thinking I could bring Christopher to his senses, I threatened him with an ultimatum: Choose the family or choose the gay lifestyle. To my surprise he coldly said, “If you can’t accept me, I have no choice but to leave.” Without any hesitation, Christopher picked up his bags and left. I fell to the fl oor in shock and anguish as my whole world fell apart around me.
On the outside it would seem I had it all: a new house, luxury cars, profi table investments, and a husband with two doctorates. But on the inside I was depressed and lonely. As a Chinese couple, my husband and I had worked hard to achieve the “American Dream.” But after years of self-centered living, we had begun the paperwork for a divorce. All I had ever wanted in life was to have a loving family where I would be loved—and now that dream was more distant than ever before. Christopher, who was closest to me, was my last ray of hope, and now he had betrayed me.
Planning To End It All
I had no more reason to live, so I determined to do the unthinkable. I was going to end my life. The next day I left home and bought a one-way Amtrak ticket to Louisville where I would say goodbye to Christopher before ending it all. My husband had no idea what I intended to do. For some odd reason I felt an urge to see a minister. I didn’t even know one because I never went to church. A chaplain at my husband’s dental school gave me a pamphlet on homosexuality. With only my purse and that pamphlet, I boarded the train, believing that death was the only answer to all my trouble.
Although I had never been much of a reader, I began to read the pamphlet and it immediately captivated me. It said that we are all sinners and yet God loves sinners, but hates the sin. I had thought that I could no longer love my son Christopher because of his actions, but I realized that just as God loves me, I could love my son in spite of the homosexual lifestyle. I looked out the window of the train and marveled at the beauty of nature, the fi elds extending in every direction and seeming to have no end. For the very fi rst time I noticed the wonders of creation, and knew there was a God—though I had been an atheist all my life. One of my favorite verses today is Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
You Belong To Me
I can’t remember if anyone else was on the train with me but it seemed as if I was there alone. I lost all sense of time and experienced perfect peace. Then I heard a still, small voice, “You belong to me.” God who searches my heart and holds precious my every thought knew my deepest need and told me what I longed to hear—that I belonged to someone, and that Someone was God. Those four words from God were a healing balm to my shattered heart.
On the back of the pamphlet was a phone number, which I called, and was connected to a Christian lady in Louisville who began to disciple me. For six weeks I immersed myself in the Bible, and along with the Bible, read Christian book after Christian book from morning to night. I rented an extended stay apartment, and my time in Louisville was like a private retreat. I had gone to Louisville expecting to end my life—and in reality, I did. I realized the necessity of dying to myself daily. I needed to continually lay aside my own “good deeds,” my needs, my worries, and most of all my family—at the foot of the cross.
Galatians 2:20 states that, “I have been crucifi ed with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” This is exactly the change I experienced in my life.
Angela’s transformation was not a Sunday only change, but it affected every day of the week. She spent hours in her prayer closet each morning, reading her Bible and praying. Her faith was vibrant—impacting all aspects of her life. What Angela had was not religion but an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. I was so impressed with the changes in her that within a few months, I decided to join her on the journey. We started going to church, and friends invited us to Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) where we began to grow deeper in our understanding and our love for God and His Word. It was while studying the Bible that I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. God became the glue which kept our marriage together as one fl esh, by drawing us closer to Himself.
Waiting for Christopher
God was preparing us for the difficult years ahead as Christopher headed deeper and deeper into the world of homosexuality. Four months before he was going to graduate with a doctor’s degree, we learned that he was going to be expelled from dental school. After much prayer and seeking God for direction, we told the dean that it was not important that our son become a dentist, but it was more important that he become a Christ follower. We did not want to interfere with God’s plan, and we knew that true love must sometimes be tough love. As expected, Christopher was furious and within a few months he moved further away from us to Atlanta.
Christopher made it very clear that he would continue to live in the homosexual lifestyle. Trying to reach him, I sent cards several times a week and fi lled them with encouraging words, scriptures, and hymns—and always at the bottom, signed them, “Love you forever, Mom.” I left messages on his answering machine, but he never returned the calls. Thinking he might come home for the holidays, we bought him a plane ticket. On Christmas Eve his father and I waited at O’Hare airport, watching with anticipation as arriving passengers were reunited into the arms of their loved ones. But Christopher was not on any fl ight. Our son was not coming home.
It seemed that Christopher was unreachable and totally hopeless. We knew that it would take a God-sized miracle to turn things around, so I decided to make a bold request that God would do whatever it took to call our prodigal son home. We committed not to focus on the hopelessness but upon the promises of God. Along with over 100 prayer warriors, we cried out for Christopher. For seven years I fasted every Monday and did one extended fast for 39 days— interceding for Christopher’s soul. One of my prayers duringthis time went like this:
Lord, I am standing in the gap for Christopher.
I will stand until the victory is won—until Christopher’s heart changes.
I will stand in the gap every day and there I will fervently pray.
Dear Lord, just one favor; don’t let me waver.
If things get quite rough, which they may, I will never give up our fair son, nor will You.
Though the enemy seeks to destroy, I’ll not quit as I intercede, though it may take years.
I give you my fears and tears, as I trust every moment.
I prayed those prayers for years, yet it seemed God was not answering them the way I expected. His answer for me was “Wait, be still, and know that I am God.” As I look back on those years when I prayed for change, God did bring change—the change was not yet in Christopher but the change was in me, in my heart. God intended during that time that I would be changed, that I would be transformed, and that I would be a trophy of God’s mercy. Oswald Chambers said, “We are not here to prove that God answers prayer; we are here to be living monuments of God’s grace.”
From Challenger, Apr-Jun, 2009, Copyright 2009, Chinese Christian Mission.