Lanzhou, China

GEOGRAPHIC HEART OF CHINA

It is the provincial capital of Gansu, a third tier city, twenty years behind Beijing in its infrastructure and development. But it is catching up with the building of a new hi-tech research center, and satellite cities in the Lanzhou New Area, all part of China's "Go West" campaign to modernize the underdeveloped hinterland.

Lanzhou has been a traditional city with large state-owned industries like petrochemicals and machine manufacturing. There are no big multi-national companies here. So to date, jobs for foreigners are mainly in teaching.

Off the beaten path, Lanzhou is less popular among foreigners. But those who come enjoy the lower cost of living, the friendly people and the cultural diversity of ethnic minorities. Han and Hui (Muslims) people live in harmony and intermarry.

Three Self churches and house churches here are small. House churches are much in need of training and support for their leaders and laypeople. Resources from the outside seldom reach this far into the interior.