AP Exclusive: Jailed Chinese pastor’s US family seeks mercy

Source: Associated Press

By YANAN WANG

BEIJING (AP) — The Rev. John Sanqiang Cao paid no more than three dollars for the trip that would end up costing him his freedom.

For years, he and fellow Chinese Christian teachers would cross the river on a narrow bamboo raft from a tree-shrouded bank in southern China into neighboring Myanmar, carrying with them notebooks, pencils and Bibles. The journey that enabled the missionaries to slip between the countries — a distance no greater than 9 meters (30 feet) — always happened in broad daylight, according to a U.S.-based missionary who traveled with Cao.

The ride on March 5, 2017, was different. Cao and a teacher were on a raft returning to Yunnan province when they saw Chinese security agents waiting for them on the shore. Decades of work in China’s clandestine “house” churches and unofficial Bible schools had prepared the prominent 58-year-old Christian leader for this moment. He quickly threw his cellphone into the water, protecting the identities of more than 50 Chinese teachers he had recruited to give ethnic minority Burmese children a free education rooted in Christianity.

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