Dr. Phil Dempster

In Memory of: Dr. John Kao

Dr. John Kao began working with Partners International (CNEC) Hong Kong in the 1960’s. John’s father was one of the original Partners International church planters in China. John returned to work with CNEC in Hong Kong after his schooling in North America.  He ably directed the work of the mission during a period of tremendous growth.  Refugees were streaming out of China and the churches were growing, yet struggling to meet the needs.

The churches spread, even into the lawless ‘Walled City’ area of Hong Kong.  Schools were started and children sponsored.  Many schools were built on high rise roof tops, because of the lack of space.

My first memory of Dr. Kao was in 1966 when John came to my church in Toronto.  John faithfully and energetically represented Partners International across Canada. He forcefully told the story of dedicated national leaders pushing the frontiers into China and beyond. He looked at us as teenagers and said, “Do you understand why it is important to support the nationals?  Do you?”  This was a time when there were few models of mission outside of the westerner being sent over the ocean.  It made a tremendous impact on me.

In 1978, Dr. John Kao sat in the office of Rev. Allen Finley, the first President of Partners International in San Jose, California. He explained his vision of reaching the rapidly growing Chinese population in Toronto.  The first church in Toronto was functioning but struggling to meet the financial needs of expansion.  Allen decided Partners International would financially back the vision for the short term. It proved to be very short term. Within a few years, the churches were expanding fast and self reliant.

The churches grew rapidly with many coming to salvation. New congregations began and they now number more than a dozen.  The Richmond Hill Community Church is now the largest Chinese congregation in North America.  The vision for the world is embedded in the churches’ DNA.  Almost $2 million goes annually to world missions.

Dr. Kao moved into a broader, worldwide ministry focus.  He was in demand all over the world where Chinese ministry flourished. Dr. Kao was appointed Chairman of CCCOWE.  CCCOWE is the Chinese Coordination Centre of World Evangelism, and it is an acronym for a movement as well as a centre.

His warm presence, generosity of spirit and infectious laugh will be missed.

Phil Dempster
Partners International (Canada)



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