His new friends encouraged him to read the Gospels. While reading the Sermon on the Mount, he encountered a baffling passage: Jesus called His followers to love their enemies and pray for them, as God causes the sun to shine on the good and evil. Suddenly he began to understand God’s unconditional love, something so countercultural to everything he knew. He recognized his own sin and his need for a Savior and professed faith in Christ in 1991.
Yuan attended seminary, worked at the Chinese-language Christian magazine Overseas Campus, and started the ministry China Soul for Christ. He also went back to creating documentaries, including China’s Confession, about seeing traces of the gospel in Chinese history, and The Cross, about Christianity’s long history in China. The documentaries, along with his recorded sermons, were widely spread in China. Pastor Wang Yi, the imprisoned pastor of Chengdu’s Early Rain Covenant Church, noted that watching The Cross was a major influence that led him to profess faith in Christ.
Yet in recent years Yuan has been tangled in controversy. Chai said that in 2011, she approached Yuan to tell him that she had forgiven him for raping her in 1990 while they were both students at Princeton. Yuan insisted that while he had committed “extramarital sexual iniquity” with Chai before becoming a Christian, he did not rape her.
After his continued denials, Chai made the allegations public, saying Yuan had invited himself over and showed her a pornographic film. She says that when she asked him to leave, he pushed her on the floor and raped her. Still denying the rape, Yuan stepped down from China Soul for Christ in 2015.
A year later, a GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) investigation reported that in 2013, Yuan invited a 23-year-old intern to his hotel room to watch a pornographic film, embraced her for two or three minutes, and asked her to stay the night. Five people corroborated her story, yet again Yuan denied any wrongdoing.