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The Be Heard Project is a voice for the persecuted Church. Through law, public policy, and grassroots action, we amplify your voice to demand that world governments respect the most basic human rights and human dignity of persecuted believers. Join with us today and Be Heard.

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Pastor John Cao Freed After Harrowing 7-Year Imprisonment in China

Mar. 25VICTORY: Pastor John Cao – a U.S.

We are pleased to announce that our client Pastor John Cao has finally been released from prison in China. He has completed serving a seven-year sentence after being wrongfully convicted for simply living out his Christian faith. We have represented his family throughout most of this horrific situation. As we have previously reported: Pastor Cao...More

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On June 8th, 2022, the Lahore High Court, Rawalpindi Bench, upheld the death sentence of two Christian brothers in a blasphemy case. Christian brothers, Amoon and Qaisar Ayub, were accused of posting blasphemous material on the Internet. Our international affiliate the European Centre for Law and Justice’s (ECLJ)More

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Christian Pastor – Permanent U.S. Resident – Imprisoned in China

In March 2024, American Pastor John Cao was set free from a Chinese prison after...

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Petition

NOV // 2018

Free Christian Pastor John Cao

313,267

Signatures //

Christian Pastor John Cao – a U.S. permanent resident – has been wrongfully convicted and sentenced in China.

After decades working in China and Burma (Myanmar), providing for the poor, sharing the love of Christ, and establishing schools for impoverished children, Pastor John was arrested and imprisoned by Chinese authorities as part of their increased crackdown on Christian pastors.

Pastor John’s wife and 2 sons (all U.S. citizens from North Carolina) desperately want their husband and father released and returned home to America.

Pastor John has been unjustly targeted for his Christian faith and sentenced to seven years in prison.

He’s been imprisoned since March 2017. His health is deteriorating, and he’s lost over 50 pounds. He’s forced to share a cell with 12 inmates and only one bed.

We're representing Pastor John's family, aggressively working internationally for his ultimate freedom. We’ve mobilized our resources across the globe and are urging China to release Pastor John and allow him to come home to the United States to be reunited with his wife and kids.

Petition To Free Christian Pastor John Cao

In the News

APR // 2024

VICTORY: Pastor John Cao – a U.S. Permanent Resident – Freed After...

Jordan Sekulow  //

Mar 25, 2024

We are pleased to announce that our client Pastor John Cao has finally been released from prison in China. He has completed serving a seven-year sentence after being wrongfully convicted for simply living out...

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ACLJ Seizes on New Executive Order Urging Biden Administration To...

CeCe Heil  //

Jul 29, 2022

On July 19, 2022, President Biden issued an “ Executive Order on Bolstering Efforts to Bring Hostages and Wrongfully Detained United States Nationals Home .” The order declares that the wrongful detention of...

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Christian Pastor John Cao Has Now Been Unjustly Imprisoned in China...

Olivia Summers  //

Mar 05, 2021

Anniversaries should be the celebrations of good things in life, marking milestones and happy moments, like weddings. But they are not always. March 5, 2021, marks the four-year anniversary of Christian Pastor...

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Story

On March 5, 2017, Pastor John (Sanqiang) Cao, a 59-year-old Christian pastor and humanitarian worker, was arrested and thrown into prison by Chinese security agents in Yunnan province, China, as China continues its crackdown on Christians. Pastor John is a U.S. permanent resident from Greensboro, North Carolina, who has lived out his Christian faith for the last 30 years by serving people in the U.S., China, and Burma (Myanmar).

In his 20s, Pastor John converted to Christianity; and after coming to the United States, he attended a seminary in New York. In 1988, Pastor John married his American wife and North Carolina native, Jamie Powell. Together, they have two sons (both U.S. citizens), and reside in North Carolina, where Pastor John Cao has served as pastor to two Chinese-American congregations.

In addition to pastoring churches in the U.S., Pastor John has worked in Central and Southern China for over two decades, establishing Bible schools focused on education and mission work. In 2013, Pastor John started providing humanitarian aid to the Wa people in Northern Burma near the Burma-China border. Through his efforts, the Wa people were supplied with food and basic necessities, as this region is severely impoverished. In addition to providing simple necessities, Pastor John began to establish schools in 2014 to serve students from this disadvantaged area and give them a chance at obtaining an education and bettering their lives. Remarkably, in just three years, 16 schools were built serving over 2,000 students.

Pastor John’s wonderful and incredible work in China and Burma is a testament to his character as a kind and loving man. Pastor John’s son, Amos, describes his father as a man with “a magnetic presence that [makes] him a natural teacher. He loves telling self-deprecating bilingual jokes, and ran a website that explained English idioms in Chinese.” One example of Pastor John’s humor comes from a letter he wrote: “I traveled at least 5,000 miles, mostly by train, hard-seat class or bus. . . . Praise the Lord, He has sustained me and kept me in good shape. I lost five pounds!”

Pastor John’s deep love for people was also displayed in 2008 and 2015 when earthquakes hit the Sichuan province in China and then Nepal: Pastor John “flew in to help victims, his fellow missionaries said, buying clothes for them even as he wore the same grey jacket and shoes for years.” Pastor John’s other son, Ben, commented, “My father always tried to save as much money as possible so he could give it away.”

Naturally, Pastor John’s work in establishing the schools in Burma required him to travel regularly between China and Burma. Pastor John has always conducted his humanitarian and mission work openly and in front of the Chinese government with no problems. And in the five years that he had been traveling from China into Burma, Pastor John had never experienced any problems with either government, and even had frequent meetings with the local National Security Police to talk about his charity work and travel to Burma.

All that changed, however, on March 5, 2017, when Pastor John was greeted by Chinese security agents as he stepped off a ferry that crosses the narrow river dividing China and Burma. The ferries operate openly and are not subject to any prosecution; but on a rare occasion, police may give a warning or impose a fine of roughly $70 as an administrative, not criminal, matter. Nonetheless, Pastor John didn’t receive a warning or a fine for using the ferry. Instead, he was arrested, charged with organizing illegal border crossings (a charge normally used to convict human traffickers), convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison, despite a lack of evidence to support the charges.

According to one of Pastor John’s Chinese attorneys, Li Guisheng, Pastor John is innocent. “Based on my thorough review and investigation of this case, I truly believe Pastor John Cao is innocent. . . . He was wrongfully convicted and punished for saving lives and providing education for the poor.” Li said. He further added that the conviction is not fair, just, or legal and that there was no evidence to prove the charges against Pastor John.

Li has appealed Pastor John’s unjust sentence, because, as he stated:

“[W]e think the law should not punish people like Pastor Cao who have been doing humanitarian work. . . . If the government is sincere about building the rule of law, the court should allow us to present our evidence and give us a chance to cross-examine the prosecution and their witnesses, and then set Pastor John Cao free. Unfortunately, to date we are not able to do that. The court under pressure refuses to follow the stipulated legal procedures and admit our evidence and rebuttals. Clearly we are far away even from a country with rule by law, not to mention rule of law.”

Unfortunately, the Pu’er Intermediate Court keeps delaying a ruling by extending the appeal period way beyond the statutory limit, so there is no end in sight for Pastor John.

Meanwhile, Pastor John has been in prison for nearly 2 years. He is in a 26 x 10 ft prison cell, with a dozen other prisoners who must all share the same 26 ft slab as a bed. On average, Pastor John has less than 14 meals per week.

Because of his time in prison and the harsh conditions, Pastor John has experienced significant weight loss—over 50 pounds—and other health issues, including severe back pain, headaches, and inflammation that make it difficult for him to eat. To date, he has not been allowed proper medical treatment. In addition to his concerning health issues, Pastor John is prohibited from communicating with his wife and sons.

U.S. officials have been alerted to, and are concerned about Pastor John’s situation. A spokesman for the U.S. State Department stated “that Washington is ‘deeply concerned’ about [Pastor John’s] sentence and has urged China to release him as a U.S. legal permanent resident on ‘humanitarian grounds.’ [Pastor John] intends to retire and return to his family in America once he is freed.”

We agree that Pastor John must be released, and we have taken on this case to make sure justice is done. At the ACLJ, we have begun representation of Pastor John’s family, mobilizing our global resources in an effort to secure this Christian pastor’s freedom.

Pastor John should not spend one more horrible day in that prison cell simply because of his faith and desire to help others. We are actively and aggressively urging the Chinese government to release Pastor John and allow him to return home to the United States to be reunited with his wife and sons.

You can help save John Cao

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American Center for Law and Justice | Washington D.C. | Copyright © 2024, ACLJ | Privacy & Security Policy | Annual Report

Be Heard Project is a project of the American Center for Law and Justice. American Center for Law and Justice is a d/b/a for Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism, Inc., a tax-exempt, not-for-profit, religious corporation as defined under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, specifically dedicated to the ideal that religious freedom and freedom of speech are inalienable, God-given rights. The Center's purpose is to engage legal, legislative and cultural issues by implementing an effective strategy of advocacy, education and litigation to ensure that those rights are protected under the law. The organization has participated in numerous cases before the Supreme Court, Federal Court of Appeals, Federal District Courts, and various state courts regarding freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Your gift is very much appreciated and fully deductible as a charitable contribution. A copy of our latest financial report may be obtained by writing to us at P.O. Box 90555, Washington, DC 20090-0555.