DONGGUAN, China (BP) -- The taxi races down the elevated 10-lane highway. There's not much to look at on this journey. Endless rows of blank-faced factories barricaded behind 6-foot metal fences line both sides of the road. Off in the distance, high-rise apartment buildings and unfinished construction projects create a snaggletoothed skyline.
The view is disappointing. When entering a city nicknamed, "The World's Workshop," you expect something grand. Instead, Dongguan is practically invisible. There are no tourist attractions -- just factories.
The bus stops, the monuments, the landmarks -- everything exists to serve the factories.
The city is divided into 32 districts, each one specializing in a different kind of manufacturing. Cang-an produces electronic components, Humen is famous for high-dollar fashion and Houjie makes shoes. The list goes on and on, with more than 3,000 factories crammed into one city.
Every district looks the same: construction sites, cheap restaurants, factories, factories and more factories. Southern Baptist worker David Rice* sees this city through different eyes. His mental map of Dongguan is a labyrinth of ministry possibilities -- a medical clinic here, management training classes over there and maybe a Christian coffee shop in the heart of a red light district.
The possibilities are endless. The impact on China is immeasurable. Rice believes that by reaching the factories with the Gospel an entire generation of migrant workers will take the message back to their villages -- often so remote that they are not even on a map, let alone on the radar of Christian strategists.
"People come here from all over the country looking for a job," Rice says, noting in one year's time he has met at least one person from all 34 provinces.
The name used for migrants -- liudong renkou, or floating population -- implies an aimless mob, but Rice sees a potential army of church planters. The Southern Baptist worker and his ministry partners see this group primed for making major changes in their lives. They are away from the strongholds of their culture back home. They are lonely and searching for meaning.
Lanying Wu* openly admits she has no objectives or goals in her life. The 19-year-old factory worker deftly snips away at her sterile workstation, cutting the outline of a garment. A pile of hot-pink satin sits at her right while a crate of her finished work sits on the left.
She left her village to make money for her family and to experience something different. Wu is a second-generation factory worker and part of the largest migration in human history. For the past three decades, Chinese migrants flocked from remote villages and farms to factories in an effort to make money and better themselves. The government estimates nearly 210 million migrants work in various "boomtowns" throughout the country. Read More