Rev. Kao and his wife Ruth, along with the Rev. Dr. Richard Fee, the former General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, taken in 2011.(photo by PCC)
The Presbyterian Church in Canada mourns the death of the Rev. Dr. C. M. Kao, who died in Tainan, Taiwan of February 14, 2019, at the age of 90. Graduating from Tainan Theological College and Seminary in 1953, he served the PCT as Pastor among indigenous communities and churches. Passionate about indigenous ministries, he was appointed in 1957 as a teacher and later Principal at Yushan Seminary for 13 years. In 1970 he was elected as General Secretary of the PCT, serving until retirement in 1989.
Rev. Kao was beloved and admired by many Canadian Presbyterians for his courageous actions during the 1970’s, because of his sympathy for the cause of democratic reform in Taiwan. The 70’s were a critical period when the PCT issued three prophetic statements which Rev. Kao signed, based on his deep faith conviction. Later, in 1980 Rev. C. M. Kao was arrested and imprisoned, tried by a military court, accused and subsequently charged and sentenced for seven years in prison, allegedly for assisting a Human Rights leader. Throughout this period his family and home were under twenty-four-hour police surveillance. In 1984 Dr. Kao was given early release, on parole for one year, and returned to his duties as General Secretary.
During the four years, three months and twenty-one days of his imprisonment, Rev. Kao along with the PCT, received much prayer and moral support from churches including The PCC, organizations and individuals worldwide. He was adopted as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. Many church leaders visited him in prison and the international support and protest to the government undoubtedly played a significant part in his early release.
In 1986, Rev. Kao was honoured with the E.H. Johnson Award for The Cutting Edge in Mission. Addressing the General Assembly in London Ontario, Rev. Kao said:“I was arrested and imprisoned in 1980 because of my love for Taiwan. In prison I suffered for four years, three months and twenty-one days, however, this experience reaffirmed for me the truth concerning God’s almighty love and our human weakness.”
A man of prayer and vision, Rev. Kao saw the mission task of the church as twofold, where evangelism and social justice/welfare ran parallel. This was reflected in his unrelenting sincere efforts to preach the good news among all peoples; at the same time his commitment to peace and justice issues never wavered. Throughout his life C. M. Kao served tirelessly and humbly for his church and country Taiwan, inspired and strengthened by his living faith and belief in Jesus Christ his Saviour.
After a time of devotion reading the Bible and praying with his wife Ruth and family, Rev. C. M. Kao went to the Lord peacefully. It was his and Ruth’s 61st wedding anniversary.