Ok, so I haven't met any of these people yet, but apparently of the 300 foreigners living in Xining, about 250 of them are missionaries. Of course they have other jobs so they can have a residence/work visa here, but everyone seems to know that they are missionaries.
The teachers here say that there are many new university students that are used to living with their families, often in Tibet, and once they get here, it's very different, they're discriminated against, and lonely. So the nice missionaries invite them over and feed them cookies. (Made in a toaster oven of course. No one has real ovens in China.) And after a couple of weeks, Jesus pops into the picture. I must say, it's brilliant.
The Tibet issue is a very hot topic here, and many people are deported if they are suspected of being supporters. Here especially on the edge of the Tibetan plateau, and with so many minorities around, things are a little tense. One American professor at Tsinghua was fired just before the Olympics simply because a student sent an e-mail suggesting he was a sympathizer. No further evidence needed. Good bye yank. Go home.