Chinese Pastor Freed After 7 Years in Jail Is Trapped in Communist China Without ID

A pastor, recently released after spending seven years in prison, is stranded in China without legal documentation to help him get basic services.

Reverend John Sanqiang Cao is back at home in Changsha, located in the southern Hunan province, but he does not have Chinese identification, the Associated Press (AP) reported Saturday.

🙌 PASTOR JOHN CAO – THREE WEEKS FREEThree weeks ago on Sunday March 3rd, Pastor John Cao returned to his home in Hunan…

Posted by China Aid on Sunday, March 24, 2024

When speaking of the situation, Cao told the outlet, “I’m released, I’m a free citizen, why should there be so many restrictions upon me?”

Years ago, Cao studied in America, married an American woman, and the couple had children. But he felt a call on his life to return to China and tell his own people about God. It is important to note that the country’s Communist Party officials only allow state-sponsored churches.

Prior to his arrest, Cao was helping Chinese missionaries get into Myanmar where a civil war had affected many people. When he was on a return journey in 2017, officials detained him and he was later given a prison sentence.

According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom website, “On March 22, 2018, Cao was sentenced to seven years in prison for allegedly ‘organizing illegal border crossings.’”

He is now working to find the answer to the current problem. Cao told the AP that police officers who went to his mother’s home in 2006 confiscated her registration book known as a “hukou.”

That book held Cao’s name, the AP article continued:

Every child born in China is registered in the hukou, which is an identification system through which social benefits are allocated by geography. Later in life, the hukou is needed to apply for a national ID card, which is used in everything from getting a phone number to public health insurance.

According to Cao, police said they would help his mother update the hukou. It was only later that he found out in updating her registration that they removed his name.

The pastor is not an American citizen but did have a United States permanent residency. However, Chinese officials do not accept it as a form of identification.

While he was sitting in a prison cell, his Chinese passport expired and he was unable to renew the document.

As he tries to find answers, Cao said he wants to join his family in America at some point, something that appears difficult to accomplish.

Despite the added challenge, Cao said in his testimony shared on ChinaAid Freedom for All’s website:

I have been separated from you all for seven years, but these seven years have been filled with joy, filled with God’s grace, and everyday God’s special presence has been with me. Truly, even though I walked through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for we know that the Lord Jesus is with us, and brothers and sisters are with me too!

I know that brothers and sisters are praying for me, and the Holy Spirit gives me strength; for seven years, everyone has been praying for me continuously; this is the motivation that allows me to pass through the valley of death joyfully and triumphantly.

In April 2021, Breitbart News noted that Christianity in China is allowed but only under the Communist Party-run Chinese Catholic Church “and the Patriotic Three-Self Church, a ‘Protestant’ alternative also run by the Communist Party.”

However, many Christians there choose to attend “house churches” where worship that is deemed illegal takes place in private residences.

“Beijing officially estimates China is home to about 40 million Christians. Counting ‘house church’ Christians, however, independent groups believe the number is closer to 100 million people, more than the total membership of the Communist Party,” the report said.


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