Li Xinheng and Lu Ling Lina relocated to a region in Pakistan that was known to be under the influence of the Taliban. Despite the perilous situation, the two Chinese citizens were motivated to share the gospel in the radicalised area. While studying Urdu, the language spoken in Pakistan, and launching a school in one of the most impoverished areas of the country, they formed relationships with their neighbours. However, their religious mission was not welcomed by some of the locals in Quetta City.
In late May, Li and Lu were having lunch when three gunmen disguised as police officers forced them into their vehicle. Another Chinese woman was also abducted, but it remains unclear whether she was set free because there was not enough room in the car or if she managed to escape and call for help. A Pakistani man witnessed the incident and attempted to assist, but he was shot in the foot by the abductors.
Li and Lu were taken hostage for a few days before they were executed, with the ordeal being recorded on video. The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for their killings, and the Pakistani government later conducted a raid on the ISIS hideout. However, by that time, the militants had fled.
The Chinese government provided little help in the investigation or retrieval of the couple’s bodies. In reality, the Chinese government declared their activities unlawful and placed the blame on Korean churches affiliated with other missionary projects in Pakistan. Some Chinese Christians who spoke out against their government’s handling of the case were detained or pressured to stay quiet. The official stance of the Chinese government was that the language school where the couple studied was simply a cover-up for illegal religious activities.
The Pakistani government also accused Li and Lu of “preaching” while they were in the country. Following their deaths, a South Korean instructor at their language school was instructed to depart from the country – the Pakistani government accused Jean Won-seo of using his school as a guise for preaching. The responses of both the Chinese and Pakistani governments, which concentrated more on the couple’s activities in the country than on the fact that two Chinese nationals were murdered by ISIS, perplexed Christians in China and around the world.
Despite being ignored by human governments, the sacrifice of Li and Lu will not be disregarded by the King of their everlasting home.