It is almost like it is expected that one should go to the mission field and burn himself out for God, going out like Elijah in a blaze of glory. The problem with that is that it was Elijah’s chariot that was on fire, not Elijah! When looking at Elijah’s life, in fact, we see a different story that serves as a basis for what we want to do.
In 1 Kings 18 there is the awesome story of Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal up on Mt. Carmel. Then in chapter 19, this incredible man of God is running for his life because of Jezebel’s threats. He literally runs out in to the middle of the desert, sits down under a tree and asks God to kill him.
What is God’s response? Does He send Gabriel with a flaming sword to carry out Elijah’s wishes? Not quite. He sends an angel alright, but that angel wakes Elijah from his sleep and gives him some fresh baked bread and a jug of water, and then lets Elijah sleep some more before doing it all over again. Two hot meals, something refreshing to drink, and an encouragement that God is not done with him.
This is how God responds to His tired, dejected, depressed servant. Not judgment. Not punishment. Instead, a hot meal. A good night’s rest. Encouragement. Then, in the mouth of an isolated cave, in another desolate place – new instructions for ministry. Wow.
We have met so many missionaries who are tired, worn out, dejected, and depressed. They don’t need to be judged – they need a rest and a reassignment. We have been there ourselves! We want The 631 Solution to be a place of refuge. A place where some good sleep and some good hot meals can lead to a refocusing and reassignment and refreshing which in turn will lead into a new period of successful ministry for those who come. We want to be those ministering angels who are able to come alongside workers who are weary and pray with them. We want to see them revitalized and redeployed by God, instead of burned out and cast aside. Isn’t this what God wants, too? When Elijah got away from the “noise” and the threats and then stopped looking for God to speak through bigger means (the wind, the fire and the earthquake) he heard God’s gentle whisper telling him what the next phase of ministry would hold.
The 631 Solution
In Mark 6, we have a story with a similar theme. It is full of so many things that happen in ministry life (successes and disappointments, rejection, hindrance by lack of faith of others, death, travel, deployment of disciples), and in verse 31 it says that there were so many people coming and going that they didn’t even have time to eat! So Jesus says, “Come away with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
The same thing happens to many workers today. We need to be reminded that God’s first and primary call to us is to BE WITH HIM. Then He works through us to accomplish His purposes. Too often, we get caught up in the work, and the burden becomes heavy and the work becomes hard. We forget that in the middle of the busy-ness, Jesus’ invitation echoes across the years, “Come away with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest!”
Based on Mark 6:31, our desire is that The 631 Solution would be a place where those involved in full-time cross-cultural ministry would be able to do just that.
*Figures presented are according to the ReMAP Reducing Missionary Attrition Project, performed by the World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission (WEA-MC) in 1997. Further information can be found in the book “Too Valuable to Lose: Exploring the Causes and Cures of Missionary Attrition” (William D. Taylor.)