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 John Cao’s unjust imprisonment in China – yet another whole year in which he has been separated from his family and deprived of all the joyful memories that families ought to be able to make together.
As you’ll recall, Pastor Cao – a U.S. permanent resident from North Carolina – is an innocent man who was living out his faith by loving his poorer neighbors in China and in Burma (Myanmar) for over two decades. In his work, he shared the love of Christ, provided humanitarian aid, and established schools for impoverished children – even establishing 16 schools in just three years!
Pastor Cao conducted his humanitarian work openly and without incident until March of 2017, when he was targeted and arbitrarily arrested as part of China’s crackdown on Christian activities. After a six-month detention, Pastor Cao was unjustly charged and eventually sentenced to seven years in prison. He has served over half of his unjust sentence, and is now, under Chinese law, eligible for parole.
We have been working with Pastor Cao’s family to advocate for his release. We have gone directly to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, through our European affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), to file critical written submissions and deliver oral interventions urging international intervention for his release. We even accompanied his wife to the U.N., as she urged them to help her husband.
In our most recent submission, we reminded the global human rights body of the findings of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which agreed Pastor Cao should be freed of this unjust sentence immediately:
On 12 August 2019, the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention adopted Opinion 35/2019 (China) regarding Pastor Cao’s unlawful detention. They found in favor of Pastor Cao, noting among other things, that “his arrest was carried out in a manner that singled out Mr. Cao on the basis of his religion,” and was a clear violation of articles 7 and 19 of the UDHR. The working group requested that the Government of China “remedy the situation of Mr. Cao without delay.”
Pastor Cao has languished in a Chinese prison long enough. As we’ve previously reported, his health has suffered throughout this ordeal. And as we told you, the spread of Coronavirus throughout the Chinese prison system has only placed his health and safety at greater risk.
Imagine for just a moment if it was your husband or your father living through this tribulation simply because he was a Christian.
And yet, while many in Pastor Cao’s situation might sink into despair, and even question their faith, as a further reminder of the kind of person he is, I want to recall his words to all of us from nearly two years ago:
“Tell everyone, I am very grateful to everyone for their dedication. Please continue praying for me. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
This statement, made in the midst of great uncertainty, is referencing James 5:16, where Christians are called to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
Let us heed these words and mark this fourth anniversary of Pastor Cao’s imprisonment with fervent prayer, remembering our imprisoned brother in Christ and his wife and sons – from whom he is so unjustly separated.
His wife, Jamie, has asked for your prayers for his health and well-being inside the prison and urges continued advocacy for his freedom.
Here at the ACLJ, we continue to advocate both in the U.S. and abroad for Pastor Cao and to seek his release. He has been separated from his family for far too long. Join with us in advocating for Pastor Cao through your prayers and by adding your name to our petition for his freedom.
As we aggressively fight for Pastor John Cao and other persecuted Christians, we urgently need your support. Every gift will be DOUBLED today. Have your gift doubled through our Matching Challenge.
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