North Carolina pastor released from Chinese prison after 7 years

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Pastor John Cao has been released from prison in Kunming in Yunnan province on March

John Cao (far right) and family

3rd after finishing his seven year sentence.

Pastor John Cao is a permanent resident of North Carolina and married to an American citizen, Jamie Powell. He 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. In September 2019, the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Pastor Cao was being arbitrarily detained and called for the Chinese government to immediately release him.

John Cao never wavered in his faith during his time in Kunming. Since 2021, he began writing poetry regularly. He reflected on his imprisonment, his previous mission of building schools, his family, and, of course, his faith. ChinaAid was able to publish the writings in Living Lyrics: Poems from Prison.