TO CHINA WITH LOVE: THE BALCOMBES’ FAMILY HISTORY
The Balcombes’ Beginnings In China
The Lord has put China on our hearts ever since He saved us and called us to the mission field. From the age of 16, when Dennis found the Lord, God has lead his footsteps first to Hong Kong and then – when the doors opened in 1979 – into mainland China.
Coming to Hong Kong in 1969 as a missionary under Shiloh Christian Fellowship located in Oakland, California, Dennis had small beginnings. God always starts with small beginnings, but as we are faithful with what He has given us, then He expands His work using us as vessels to His glory!
Living in small room – which was actually part of a bathroom – Dennis learned the language and started Revival Christian Church at the end of 1969. The church premises was a mezzanine floor office space located in the Western District of Hong Kong Island which could seat around 25 – 30 people. From the very beginning Dennis refused to use English to preach. He would spend hours, even days and sleepless nights to prepare his message so that he could preach it in Cantonese.
In 1971, Dennis married Kathy, with whom he had been corresponding with for a couple of years. They were “pen pals”. But, as their relationship grew, it was obvious the Lord was bringing them together. Born of missionary parents in Chengmai, Thailand, Kathy had always felt a call to the mission field – especially the Asian countries.
So, in the midst of small beginnings, there began a small family. In 1973 Sharon Grace was born and in 1976 Michael Bruce came into the world.
As our family expanded in the natural, so also did the church grow. God added to us as more and more people heard the gospel message and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. Soon the premises on the mezzanine floor was not big enough. We found another place across the harbor in the Tsim Sha Tsui district. This place was located 2 blocks from the Hong Kong Christian College (Secondary School) where Dennis was now the Chaplain. During those several years of ministry, we saw many students believe in the Lord and join the church. Praise God! It was His time to move among these students.
From the Tsim Sha Tsui district we moved to the Yau Ma Tei district as the church continued to grow in numbers. Eventually we purchased the premises on Prince Edward Road, right near to the Prince Edward MTR (Mass Transit Railway) station making it very accessable.
During this time, mainland China also began to open up her doors to the outside world. Dennis traveled into the mainland on the first tour group that went in. He finally saw with his own eyes the land of his calling. God was opening the doors for him to go and share the message of the baptism of the Holy Spirit to the “underground” house church leaders. As the fire of the Holy Spirit began to grip them, it spread across to many cities and rural areas. Dennis found that the Church of Jesus Christ in the mainland was and alive and well and flourishing under persecution – their preaching of the gospel message was followed by signs, miracles and wonders.
We are now located in the Kwai Chung district. This district used to be the countryside, but now is flourishing with hundreds of thousands of people moving in. It is also the main thoroughfare to the new airport. God has given us a former movie theatre located right across from the Mass Transit Railway. The potential is great. The harvest is ripe!
We, as a family, are committed to minister to the Chinese around the world. God in His mercy has called us and He will accomplish His purpose in our lives.
1961 Dennis Balcombe accepted Christ as Savior.
1961 He saw a Chinese village in a vision and received the calling to go to China.
(In 1979, he visited the same village in Henan province.)
1966-67 Vietnam War: Dennis drafted into military.
1969 He came to Hong Kong as a missionary under Shiloh Christian Fellowship (Oakland, California). Not knowing anyone in the city when he arrived, he settled down with the help of some friendly local Chinese. He humbly lived in a bathroom for 2 years.
1969 Within a few months, Dennis started Revival Christian Church (RCC) with 25-30 people. Dennis refused to use English to preach from the start. He spent a long time preparing his messages in Cantonese.
1970 Dennis married 20-year-old Katherine Grace Bissell, an American missionary kid (MK) born in Chengmai, Thailand. She had always felt a call to the mission field in Asia.
1973 Daughter Sharon Grace Balcombe was born.
1976 Son Michael Bruce Balcombe came into the world.
1979 The People’s Republic of China opened to visitors. Dennis was on one of the first tours from Hong Kong allowed inland. Soon after, the Bibles to China ministry began.
The Balcombes’ Today
Dennis speaks fluent Cantonese and Mandarin. He is currently involved in ministering to the Chinese as well as non-Chinese throughout Asia. As the founder of Revival Chinese Ministries International, he is a sought-after speaker around the world.
Kathy is fluent in Cantonese. She is co-pastor of the Revival Christian Church, actively ministering to the Chinese in Hong Kong.
Sharon has a theology degree from a Chinese seminary in Taiwan. She speaks fluent Mandarin in addition to her native Cantonese. She married a Hong Kong Chinese, Samuel Lau, and is raising two children, Kady (born 1997) and Benjamin (born 1999). Sharon is eagerly waiting to get involved again in China ministry in the future. She and Samuel are both active in Revival Christian Church’s cell groups, joining her husband Samuel Lau as the Senior Pastors of the Revival Christian Church.
Michael is currently living in Hong Kong, having studied in the U.S. for several years. He still prefers to use Cantonese over English.
See also: Dennis Balcombe’s Overseas Schedule
and: Pastor’s Mission