It seemed like a rote international news story: ISIS kills a Chinese couple in northwest Pakistan, one of the most dangerous areas in the world for a non-Muslim.
Then came the Reuters story with an unlikely claim: ISIS was saying the murdered pair were “preachers.”
It was then that I realized these might have been no ordinary Chinese expatriates. They were possibly part of one of the most ambitious missionary enterprises in 2,000 years of Christianity plotted by none other than Chinese Christians. First, the story:
Pakistan identified on Monday two Chinese nationals recently abducted and killed by the Islamic State and, in a new twist, said the two were preachers who had posed as business people to enter the country.
The interior ministry named the two as Lee Zing Yang, 24, and Meng Li Si, 26, and said their violation of visa rules had contributed to their abductions. Previously officials said they were Chinese-language teachers.
The two were abducted by armed men pretending to be policemen on May 24 in Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan province. Last week, Islamic State's Amaq news agency said its members had killed them.
"Instead of engaging in any business activity, they went to Quetta and under the garb of learning (the) Urdu language from a Korean national ... were actually engaged in preaching," the ministry said in a statement.
Interesting word, "posed."
Of course, they could have been involved in business projects AND in efforts to work with and support local Christians. They could have been, to use the Christian term, "tentmakers" who had legitimate business skills and interests, as well as a commitment to spreading Christianity.
Anyway, I checked with Dawn, the English-language Pakistani daily, about these murders, but the newspaper only said the pair were Chinese language instructors. What reporters obviously don’t realize –- but somehow ISIS did –- was that these weren’t just any instructors.
It is quite possible they were part of a Chinese initiative called the “Back to Jerusalem” movement.