In Memory of ACEM Founder - Rev. Dr. John Kao

Rev. John Kao was born in Zhejiang, China in 1934. Rev. Kao accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and responded to His call to full-time Christian service in Hong Kong. He received training in Hong Kong and North America, earning the following degrees: Bachelor of Science, Master of Divinity, Master of Religious Education, and Doctor of Ministry. As well, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Tyndale University, College and Seminary in Toronto for his exemplary Christian service.

In 1963 Rev. Kao was sent by Partners International (PI) to return to his alma mater, the Bible Seminary of Hong Kong, to be Lecturer and Dean of Studies. From 1969 to 1974, he did deputational work throughout North America, raising funds on behalf of national workers in their respective mission fields.

In the winter of 1974, Rev. and Mrs. Kao were commissioned by PI to plant churches in Toronto. With six other families the Kaos started the Toronto Chinese Community Church with a five-prong vision: Unity and Love, Discipleship Training, Church Planting, World Missions, and Social Concern. In time this five-prong vision would define the character and culture of this fledging ministry. Twelve churches with total Sunday adult attendance exceeding 8,000 are now part of the Association of Chinese Evangelical Ministries (ACEM) family.

Rev. Kao was a faithful servant-leader, always serving tirelessly and joyfully, living out the motto that it is more blessed to give than to receive. He promoted collaboration among pastors and churches and had won the respect of all. In spite of ongoing kidney dialysis since 1996, Rev. Kao remained faithful in serving the Lord. In September, 1999, Rev. Kao underwent a kidney transplant operation. With his health restored, Rev. Kao accepted a nomination in 2001 to become the General Secretary of the Chinese Coordination Centre of World Evangelism (CCCOWE). During the five-year term, Rev. Kao visited more than 16 countries and 40 cities, promoting inter-church cooperation and world missions. Under his leadership, the 7th Chinese Congress on World Evangelization convened in Macau; as well, a concurrent conference was held to encourage English-speaking leaders of the Chinese Church to join the CCCOWE movement.

By 2007, his kidney troubles began to resurface. Despite failing health, Rev. Kao continued to persevere in his service. He collaborated with other leaders in promoting theological education, and he served as Chairman of the Executive Board for the Association of Canadian Chinese Theological Education.

Rev. Kao was a loving husband, a devoted father, a caring grandfather and a wonderful witness of God’s glory. For many years Rev. Kao had suffered poor health. Before and after undergoing kidney transplant he had received frequent dialysis and blood transfusion. His health began to deteriorate after his hospitalization last year due to pneumonia. He fought his ailing condition courageously and accepted different treatments before finally succumbing to degenerating health condition at Mackenzie Health, with wife Esther, sons Fred, Ernest and family by his side. While we mourn his passing, we give thanks for his witness in faith and take comfort in the knowledge that he is with our Savior.


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