Freedom In Chains in China (excerpts)
Steadfast Global, 28th November 2023
In February 2023, John Cao’s mother met with him face-to-face for the first time in three years. She reported he was in good health, and that he was thankful for his international friends.
Pastor John Cao served as a missionary in Myanmar’s Wa State, transforming the lives of more than 2,000 impoverished minority children by building 16 schools and working to fight poverty in the region. Chinese officials knew that he repeatedly crossed the border between China and Myanmar because of his work and allowed him to do so for three years.
However, on March 5, 2017, authorities in China’s Yunnan province intercepted Cao and his colleague, Jing Ruxia, and placed them in prison on illegal border crossing charges, even though they had never had trouble before. Later, they changed Cao’s charge to “organizing illegal border crossings,” and he was sentenced to seven years in prison in March 2018.
Those observing Cao’s case believe that his imprisonment does not come from the violation of any border law, but rather arose from China’s ongoing campaign to suppress the Chinese church.
Officials only permitted Cao’s family’s lawyer, his 83-year-old mother, and his sister to hear the verdict. One source reports that Pastor Cao has been experiencing health challenges and that he’s lost more than 50 pounds. In August, CCP authorities transferred John to prison in Kunming, the capital and largest city of Yunnan Province.