Image of Pastor John Cao who was placed in prison on illegal border crossing charges, despite the fact that they had never had trouble before.

Visitation for John Cao delayed by COVID— new poem “Unsuccessful Trip”

John Cao, imprisoned since 2018
(Photo: ChinaAid source)





(Kumin, Yunan province—June 2, 2022) The mother of Pastor John Cao went to see her imprisoned son twice in the last two months. On her first trip, she was denied a virtual visit supposedly due to COVID. John Cao wrote her a poem in response to the rejection. Then, she returned a second time in May and shared the journey with ChinaAid.  

 

John Cao’s mother left on her first journey from Changsha, Hunan province to Kunming, Yunnan province, where John is held. The trip is over 800 miles. Because of COVID, she usually visits her son virtually.


Authorities arrested Cao for the fabricated charge of “organizing illegal border crossings” and sentenced him to seven years in prison in 2018. He built countless bible schools for minority children in Myanmar, preaching the gospel to them. Reportedly, the Chinese Communist Party arrested him because of his faith.

Pastor John Cao heard of this news regarding his mother’s first visit, so he wrote a letter and poem for her efforts: 

 

 

My mother traveled from Changsha to Kunming to see me. It was a pity she was not able to have a video visitation with me. I am happy as long as she is peaceful. I am writing this poem to commemorate my mother’s trip. 

 

Unsuccessful Trip 

 

Traveling far away with inconvenient legs to see her son, 

still unable to meet due to the pandemic. 

Writing her son more letters to show her love, 

she paves the way for him to get the heavenly crown. 

WeChat group filled with Christians’ love, 

Church full of sounds of prayer. 

Blessed whether weal or woe, 

Prison is empty when the church is full. 

 

April 11, 2022 

 

Fortunately, his mother was able to return on May 26. She shared the details of her visit with ChinaAid: 

 

Pastor John Cao’s greetings to brothers and sisters across the world 

 

The staff member of the Bureau of Justice who oversees prison visits waved at me, indicating that I could have a virtual meeting with my son, John Sanqiang, after I waited 1 hour. As soon as I entered the video meeting room, John Sanqiang waved his hands in the air, hollering, “Mom! So good to see you. When did you arrive in Kunming? How have you been? How is your health?” I answered each of his questions.   

 

“Mom, please bring my regards to my American family, other relatives, and friends, especially brothers and sisters across the world…” His voice is full of confidence and warmth, which shows his health. I came to Kunming earlier in March and stayed there until mid-March, but I could not have a virtual meeting with my son due to the pandemic.  

 

“Okay, okay, I will do what you said and what you ask me to do….,” I responded to my son.  

 

He grabbed the hair using his thumb and ring finger, saying, “Mom, see, I got a haircut the day before yesterday, hair hasn’t grown out, I am not bald,” I saw him twisting his hair using two fingers, his black and thick hair grows out 1/3 of a rice grain, it is thick and black, and he is not bald, which comforts me a lot. When I had the virtual meeting with him last year, he didn’t have hair on the top and back of his head, I thought malnutrition and anxiety caused it. I asked him in one of the letters I wrote why he lost his black hair. So, he showed me his black hair in this video meeting. Ha! 

 

I said, “Jiemin asked my niece, Dandan, the day before yesterday to tell me that Jiemin and two sons all miss their dad. The three people should have come to China and visited her husband and sons’ dad if it were not for the pandemic… Dandan, your niece, finished graduate school. She also misses her uncle and said hi to the uncle…” This is what I said to my son. He nodded, saying, “Mom, I hear what you said. Please let them know dad misses them so much.”  

 

I traveled hundreds of miles from Changsha to Kunming and the primary goal is to check on my son’s health. I said, “Son, can you stand up?” 

 

He stood up.  

 

Then I said, “Son, can you walk a little bit and let me see,” My son walked with his hands moving. My purpose is to check on his health and energy. He is doing alright 

 

I asked my son to roll up his sleeves and show me his arms since I wondered if his arms had muscle and were strong. John Sanqiang rolled up his sleeves and showed me his arms, and I saw his arms clearly, they look good, too. I was relieved.  

 

Then, I said, “Song Xiyi, a brother living in Changsha, often came by my place, checking my refrigerator, circuit, pipes, and ventilation hood. He said to me that Pastor Cao lost freedom for the sake of God, and he was my son. If I need help, I should let him know. Now, he lives in Singapore and preaches God’s grand love. He said he would run a senior home when you were released because the senior homes are money-oriented, seniors living there do not have decent food, services are dissatisfying, and I am so sad for them. When Pastor Cao is released, I will collaborate with him and establish a senior home. We don’t aim at making money from them but hope to help them live a happy senior life instead. Pastor Cao would be happy ……” 

 

I brought up what Song Yixi asked me to tell Pastor Cao, and Pastor Cao smiled and nodded while hearing this.  

 

Many brothers and sisters in Christ asked me to tell Pastor Cao different things, but I didn’t even get the chance to mention their names due to limited time before they ended the virtual meeting.  

 

The elderly mother’s trip to Kunming is worthwhile, my son and I chatted, and most of all, I knew his health situation in the virtual meeting.  

 

This is the virtual meeting I had with my son in Kunming. Share it with you all.  

 

Thank you each for thinking of us, remembering us, encouraging us, and sending us stamina.  

 

God loves you all.  

 

Pastor John Sanqiang Cao’s mother in Changsha 

May 26, 2022 

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