‘We are devastated to lose such an amazing man,’ wife of Xindong Hao says
A man devoted to charitable deeds, Christianity and his home country of China was mere steps away from returning to his family when gunshots rang out Wednesday evening.
Xindong Hao had arrived in Kansas City the day before with his wife, Laura, and their four young children. They were staying with friends at a house on Bridge Manor Drive near the International House of Prayer.
Hao had decided to walk back from the Christian evangelical mission’s headquarters.
Laura Hao told The Star on Friday that her children, ranging in age from 2 to 8, believed their father was “invincible.”
“How did he not fight the bad guy this time and win?” her children wonder. She tells them their father is in a better place.
“There was never a man who worked harder to share God’s love,” she said.
Since she was a child in Wilmington, N.C., Laura Hao yearned to go to China. She enrolled in Asian studies courses in college and eventually moved to the country to teach English.
One day at church in the northwest Chinese city of Lanzhou, as she sang in the choir, she saw her future husband playing the piano.
She complimented his ability — mainly because turnover of pianists was high in the church — and next saw him over lunch with a mutual friend battling leukemia.
That was 2005. She came to learn that about two years earlier, he had nearly committed suicide in the Yellow River. But Christians saw him walking toward the water and took him in. They showed him an alternate path, one that didn’t include the substance abuse, gambling and fighting of his past.
“They told him he was created to worship the king,” Laura Hao said. “It changed his life.”
In more than 10 years of marriage, she said, her husband devoted himself to bringing benevolence to the world.
He helped build a bathroom in a remote village in Tibet, brought food and quilts to widows and orphans in northwest China and orchestrated doctors’ trips to the impoverished.
“He grew up in one of those poor villages. He knew what it meant to be without,” Laura Hao said.
“I hope many more people will be inspired by his story, to live with purpose and live with love and forgiveness in their life. And I pray others will find that as well.”
Xindong Hao, known to many by his nickname, Haodong, invited everyone he met to his home in China. Laura Hao joked that it started to resemble a bed and breakfast, and her children asked visitors how many nights they planned to stay upon their arrival.
Condolences, Laura Hao said, are pouring in from people in several countries. The Chinese consulate is working with Hao’s relatives to obtain a temporary visa so they can attend a funeral Aug. 11 in Dallas, where the family once lived.
The couple had visited the International House of Prayer, on Red Bridge Road, before. On Wednesday, hours before the shooting, they enrolled their children in a day camp there, Signs and Wonder.
That evening, Hao decided to stay behind at the International House of Prayer to speak with someone he’d just met. At first he planned to keep his youngest child, the 2-year-old, but ultimately his wife took the child with her.
Laura Hao didn’t hear the blasts from the shotgun of a teenager who is accused of killing Hao and injuring two others. But then she saw police cars and tried to call him. She stepped outside moments later and saw her husband’s body lying in the yard of the house across the street.
“It shouldn’t have happened,” she said. “He was just walking back.”
Police say 18-year-old Curtrail Hudson was high on PCP when he engaged in a two-block-long shooting spree. This week, 17 people were shot within two days in Kansas City.
Some in China are alarmed by America’s violence, Laura Hao said.
“That’s always a fear. (Hao’s slaying) has got to be hard for communities in China,” she said. “But Scripture says God’s perfect love drives out fear. … I have hope for this country, and violence is not what this country is. It’s much, much more.”
For her own healing’s sake, Laura Hao is striving to forgive the man who killed her husband, hoping he will “find the love and forgiveness of God that once so transformed my husband.”
Forgiveness will be difficult, though, something she’ll work toward every day.
“There’s always hope. I know God can bring good out of anything no matter how terrible it is.”
A GoFundMe account to benefit Laura Hao and her children has raised more than $37,000 toward a $40,000 goal.