They moved to an area of Pakistan known to be influenced by the Taliban. Despite the danger, Chinese citizens Li Xinheng and Lu Ling Lina felt compelled to share the Gospel in the radicalized area. While studying Urdu, the language spoken in Pakistan, and starting a school in one of the poorest parts of the country, they built relationships with their neighbors. But their witness was not welcomed by some in the city of Quetta.
In late May, Li and Lu were taking their lunch break when three armed men dressed as police officers forced them into their vehicle. A third woman, also Chinese, was kidnapped along with them, but it is unclear whether she was released because there wasn’t room in the vehicle or because she escaped and called for help. A Pakistani man saw what was happening and tried to help, but he was shot in the foot by the kidnappers.
Li and Lu were held hostage for several days before their executions,
which were recorded on video. The self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS)
claimed credit for their deaths, and the Pakistani government eventually
carried out a raid on the ISIS hideout. However, by that time the Islamists
The Chinese government did little to aid in the investigation or the
retrieval of the couple’s bodies. In fact, the Chinese government declared
their work illegal and blamed Korean churches affiliated with other missionary work in Pakistan. Some Chinese Christians who spoke out
against their government’s handling of the case were detained or pressured to remain silent. The official government stance was that the
language school where the couple studied was merely a front for illegal
The Pakistani government also accused Li and Lu of “preaching” during their time in the country. Following their deaths, a South Korean instructor at their language school was ordered to leave the country. The Pakistani government accused Jean Won-seo of using his school as a cover for preaching. Christians in China and around the world were perplexed by the responses of both the Chinese and Pakistani governments, which focused more on the couple’s activities in the country than on the fact that ISIS had murdered two Chinese nationals.
Despite being ignored by earthly governments, the sacrifice of Li and
Lu will not be ignored by the King of their eternal home. The writer of
Hebrews tells us that “God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he
has prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:16).
“Pray that God would be sanctified in my life, and in the lives of all His children here … I long to live a poured-out life unto Him among these
Chinese, and to enter into the fellowship of sufferings for souls, [as He] …poured out His life unto death for us.”
—Mildred Clarke in her journal in 1894. She was martyred in 1900 in China.
This story is an excerpt from Foxe: Voices of the Martyrs. You can get your own copy free with any donation to The Voice of the Martyrs.