Back to Jerusalem is a movement founded on a willingness to suffer and sacrifice for the gospel. Last spring, a young Chinese brother and sister payed the ultimate price when they were abducted and later killed by ISIS terrorists in Pakistan.
Their death was an embarrassment for Pakistan, a country that has a great economical interest in keeping Chinese ex-pats safe and sound. It was also an embarrassment for China, as it soon became apparent that the Chinese brother and sister were working with South Korean missionaries, who were running a language school. Pakistan is not at all in favor of these kind of activities. China tried to save face and blamed South Korea for preying on vulnerable Chinese and hiring them as cheap teachers.
It is not often that the Back to Jerusalem movement hits the international headlines. And for those who were able to read between the headlines, there was more than just the embarrassment of governments and a seeming victory for ISIS. The death of these two Chinese was a powerful testimony to the work of God. For if young people with dreams and futures are willing to sacrifice it all to serve a people far away, something important is going on. And that something cannot be understood or controlled by governments, or repressed by terror.
It took almost five months until finally last week the remains of brother Li and sister Meng were handed over to their families by Pakistani authorities. This Saturday a memorial service was held in their honor. Many people wanted to attend, but could not, because of restrictions from the Chinese government.
But there was more backlash. Co-workers of brother Li and sister Meng were sent back to China, where they were arrested. Also, their pastor was arrested. It seems that for China, the house churches are no longer just an internal ‘problem’ but also an international one. Chinese followers of Christ change China and are beginning to impact many other nations too. And they do so without prior permission from Beijing.
And that is something increasingly unacceptable to the party leadership, which is being concentrated more and more in the hands of president Xi. New legislation is being pushed, which will have a negative effect on religious freedom. Believers in China are bracing for another wave of hardship.
This is a cause for concern, just as the death of these two brave young people is a cause for great sadness. But both of these occurrences also give reason to hope. For earlier waves of hardship and persecution have strengthened the church in China and given birth to this unexpected missionary movement.
So, as well as keeping our eyes open to political developments and dealing with new threats, we should always look further with expectation to what God is going to do through all of this. For the gates of hell will not prevail.
In your prayers, please remember the grieving families. Also pray for boldness and protection for the remaining Chinese missionaries in Pakistan and in other countries where they are in danger.
Kajsa lives and works in Korea with her family and writes about the political, economical, and spiritual development of the country.