CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 9 December 2017

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Terrorism is the problem not the young missionaries

WENZHOU (UCAN): Two young Chinese, Li Xinheng, from Hunan, and Meng Lisi, from Hubei in central China, were abducted by terrorists in Pakistan on May 24 and are believed to have been killed by their kidnappers.
 
The two, who were in their mid-20s, were working under the auspices of a Korean Christian missionary, Seo Jun-won, who together with his wife was running a small school in which Li and Meng were involved.
 
In a reflection published by UCAN, a pastor, writing under the pen name of Luke Zhen, says that official Chinese media have been playing down criticism or condemnation of the terrorists and heaping the blame on Seo for the kidnap and probable death of the victims by naming his missionary zeal as the real culprit in the tragedy.
 
Pastor Zhen continues, saying that the media has also blamed Li and Meng for their lack of judgment, while at the same time stressing that China announced it is prepared to cooperate with Pakistan in an investigation into what is being termed illegal evangelisation in the majority Muslim country.
 
Missing is the usual self-righteous posturing adopted by the media towards terrorism and a decidedly anti-missionary sentiment has won the day as its substitute.
 
But Pastor Zhen says that even if the two young Chinese had violated their visa regulations or other taboos, their violent kidnap and murder should be condemned as any loss of life, especially in violent circumstances, is a great tragedy.
 
Meanwhile, Pastor Zheng says that the Church denomination Li and Meng belonged to has decided to remain silent, which he believes reflects the restricted freedom of the environments on both the mainland and in Pakistan.
 
Seo and his wife were arrested by Pakistani authorities on June 12 and are now facing deportation.
 
In China, the ministry of the Protestant Church that Li and Meng were a part of and the branch of the Korean Church in the Pakistani city of Quetta have been caught up in what is being labelled as a controversy.
 
Meanwhile a cross-denominational mission team in China has identified Quetta as not being a suitable place for preaching.
 
However, Pastor Zhen maintains that any criticism of the Chinese and Korean Protestant Churches and the suspected martyrdom of the two missionaries is at this stage disrespectful and inappropriate.
 
He points out that martyrs are people who enlighten our conscience and, even if we doubt their wisdom or common sense, they should not be viewed as troublemakers.
 
In its grief, the Church involved should not forget to condemn the brutality of the terrorists and the indifference of the authorities in both Pakistan and China towards them. It should also review how to better prepare its missionaries for their work.
 
It could refer to the spirit of the Cape Town Commitment and Christopher Wright’s theological interpretation on the Mission of God to reflect on the Church’s ethics and evangelisation mission, as well as the environment and concrete circumstances of the services it is providing.
 
The Cape Town Commitment is a comprehensive document that reflects the proceedings of the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelisation, which took place in Cape Town in South Africa in 2010.
 
In the opening section, it states, “We participate in the mission of God.” It is to go out of the Church and reach out to the world. But it adds that our mission must reflect an integration of evangelism and engagement with the world.
 
But in times of persecution, defending religious freedom and walking the path of the cross are not contradictory. Individuals being humiliated or losing their rights for Christ do not contradict our efforts to speak out for them.
 
The Chinese and Korean Christian Churches are now in distress. Potential missionary strategic partners are facing new challenges. But God’s mission will not stop.
 
Pastor Zhen believes that in death, Li and Meng should receive the respect of a martyr, not the derision of an angry government disowning its responsibility to respect and defend the safety of its own citizens, irrespective of what they may have been doing.

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