By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
His lawyer, Yang Hui, claimed the prison in Kunming, Yunnan province’s capital, used the COVID-19 pandemic to “reject a request” from the pastor’s 84-year-old mother to visit her son. She then asked the lawyer to help her give a Bible to her son, jailed on what he views as trumped-up charges linked to his Christian activities.
However, officials didn’t allow the Scriptures to be delivered, said rights group ChinaAid. “On February 24, Lawyer Yang purchased a Holy Bible from a [state-backed] Three-Self church as only Three-Self churches can sell Bibles,” the group recalled.
He reportedly took a taxi to the prison and requested to meet Pastor Cao to deliver the Bible. “Although Lawyer Yang tried to negotiate with prison authorities several times for the Holy Bible to be sent to Pastor Cao, officials rejected all requests,” ChinaAid stressed.
In comments shared with Worthy News, Yang said he eventually spoke with Pastor Cao through the prison’s video conferencing system on February 25.
“I told Pastor Cao that late the previous night, his mother continued to contact lawyers, including me, to send him a Holy Bible. When I said that she planned to visit with him on March 5, Pastor Cao’s eyes welled with tears.”
He said officers permitted them to talk for only 30 minutes that morning. “Pastor Cao appeared in good health, except for experiencing some dental issues.”
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials jailed Pastor Cao four years ago as he helped impoverished children in northern Myanmar, ChinaAid stressed.
With other volunteers, Pastor Cao founded 16 schools within four years in neighboring Myanmar, also known as Burma, Christians said.
He also traveled between China’s Yunan Province and the Wa State of Myanmar to bring stationery and books, including Bibles, for more than 2,000 students, according to ChinaAid.
The troubles began in March 2017 when Pastor Cao returned to Yunan, where armed police intercepted him. One year later, CCP authorities found him guilty of “organizing illegal border crossings,” ChinaAid noted.
The charge, usually given to human traffickers, enabled a court to sentence him to a seven-year jail term, according to Christians familiar with the case. “The Pu’er court held a secret trial on July 25, 2019, and rejected Pastor Cao’s appeal [against the sentence] the same day,” ChinaAid told Worthy News.
Despite the difficulties, “Pastor Cao asked me to help him thank fellow Christian brothers and sisters for their prayers,” said Yang, the lawyer. Yang stressed that the pastor reiterated that he is not guilty. “The whole world knows, and they [Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities also know that I am innocent…. But they decided to sentence me to serve seven years. I have to accept that,” he quoted the pastor as saying.
PASTOR FEELING SAD
“I don’t feel too much suffering in prison, but I do feel sad when the thought comes to my mind that my mother is suffering for me,” Cao reportedly added.
Lawyer Yang wrote in his diary that “God knows Pastor Cao is exhausted, so God led Pastor Cao to rest in Him.”
The lawyer, a believer, quoted Bible verse Romans 13:1: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.”
He said that his client was facing a “spiritual war,” adding that “serving the sentence peacefully proves to be the best way to win.” Eventually, Yang stressed, “the crown of righteousness will be retained for Pastor Cao. Our heavenly Father will take care of Pastor Cao as well as his mother. No need to worry. We try our best to do whatever we can do and entrust everything else to God.”
Lawyer Yang said he served as the messenger between Pastor Cao and people who care about him. As Pastor Cao does not have access to the Bible, The lawyers said, he brings “God’s words to him.”
Lawyer Yang told Pastor Cao that fellow brothers and sisters decided to publish poems he wrote in prison. He also read verses to Pastor Cao from the book of James. Pastor Cao told Lawyer Yang that his mother writes several Bible verses in each letter she sends him. He memorized those verses as well as some that Lawyer Yang had read to him.
LONGER IN PRISON
Lawyer Yang says he had told Pastor Cao to realize that “we are engaged in a spiritual war” and that God gives different missions to each of us.”
He suggested that Cao may be released on bail as he served more than half of his sentence. However, the lawyer warned the pastor that sentence reduction involved confessing and pleading guilty.
Yang said he had therefore encouraged Cao to serve the remaining three years “peacefully and patiently” in their meeting that ended with prayer. Cao’s imprisonment comes amid mounting pressure on devoted Christians in Communist-run China, rights activists say.
Analysts say China’s President Xi Jinping, views the rapid rise of the Christian community in China as a threat to his power base and ideology.
There are as many as 130 million Christians in China, and that number may rise to 300 million by 2030, according to church experts.
If you are interested in articles produced by Worthy News, please check out our FREE sydication service available to churches or online Christian ministries. To find out more, visit Worthy Plugins.