CHINA: John Cao Freed after Seven Years Imprisonment

12 March 2024

Source: Release International

Pastor John Cao has been freed from prison in China’s Yunnan province, after serving a seven-year sentence.

Cao, who lived with his family in North Carolina, had served as a missionary in Myanmar, transforming the lives of many impoverished children by building a number of schools. As part of this work, he regularly crossed the border between Myanmar and China, bringing over volunteers to help with his work. Chinese officials knew he did this.

However, in March 2017 John and one of his fellow workers were detained. He was subsequently charged with “organising illegal border crossings” and, in March 2018 was sentenced to seven years in prison.

He appealed but his sentence was upheld. The following year the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded he was being arbitrarily detained and called on the Chinese government to release him.

By the grace of God, his faith has never wavered during his time in prison. In 2021 he began writing poetry reflecting on his time in prison. A collection of these poems has been published by a partner of VOM Australia’s sister mission, Release International as Living Lyrics: Poems from Prison.

John Cao had become a Christian in his 20s, through the witness of a family from the US. He went on to study for Christian ministry in New York and later married an American, Jamie. They have two sons. John ministered for a number of years to Chinese congregations in North Carolina before he felt God calling him to serve in his homeland. He founded schools in central and southern China before becoming involved in humanitarian work in neighbouring Myanmar.


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    Give thanks to God for his release from prison and his perseverance in faith over the past few years.

    Pray also that the Lord will guide, protect, and bless him in the days ahead.

    Pray that God would ensure the release of other imprisoned Christians in China.

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