Where should you start your ministry?
Start where you can win by paying a price that you can afford and are happy to pay.
Start where the conditions are favorable, not where the needs are greatest.
If God hasn’t given you a specific place where he wants you to start your ministry, then my advice is to start where the conditions are favorable (where you have the support that will help you thrive), not simply where the needs are the greatest. When a ministry starts, it’s like a seedling. If you put it in a climate where the weather is too harsh, the winds are too strong, there is too much drought, it will die. But if you put it in a place where the weather is favorable, it will grow, put its tap root into the ground and spread its leaves. Later, if the storm comes and the droughts come, it would not die so quickly because it has a tap root and a strong stem. Later, the seeds from this tree can then spread to other tougher places and have a higher chance of succeeding because that one seed has become hundreds, if not thousands of seeds.
If a plant is exposed to harsh weather too abruptly, a strong wind could easily break the stem. But if it is subjected to gradually increasing degrees of the wind and harsh weather, the stem develops resistance to the extent that it can bend under the pressure of the wind and not break. The roots become stronger and stronger so that it’s hard for a strong wind to uproot the tree. In the past, many ship building companies used this wisdom to choose the wood to be used on the ship. The wanted wood that wouldn’t break when the waves of the sea pounded hard on it. So what they did was identify young trees on a windy mountainside — trees that are frequently exposed to strong wind. When the trees were mature, they would cut and use them for shipbuilding.
Many times, when people are called to start organizations or ministries (orphan care, for example) and they don’t know where to start (God hasn’t called them to a specific place), I advise them to start working in a place where they are most likely to succeed: where you have the most support, not where the need is greatest. As soon as you take root where you have much support and gain strength, then go to the place where there are greater needs, but little support.
When I first felt called to start taking care of orphans in 2005, I started in my own country, Cameroon. There were thousands and thousands of orphans there. There still are many orphans in that country that need help today. But is Cameroon the poorest country in the world? No. Do the orphans there suffer more than others in war-torn countries who are being forced into child labor or killed? No. I was only a student, with few connections. If I tried to start an organization that goes to the hardest places, I would have failed. I started where the need was present, AND the conditions were favorable for the ministry to succeed. Now, our organization has grown and has provided support for orphans in Haiti. We are now training people from different countries and equipping them to go and serve orphans in different parts of the world, wherever God sends them. Instead of us going, we are training them, releasing them, and supporting them to go and pursue their dreams. Where you choose to serve is an important determinant of whether you will survive or die.
Jesus used this same principle. His Christian movement is now worldwide. Where did he start it? In Israel, his home country. In fact, he made it clear that he and his disciples were called to initially focus on the Jewish people, not the Gentiles. It wasn’t until many years after Jesus ascended that he himself came down and revealed himself to the apostle Paul who was on his way to Damascus. Then he appointed Paul an apostle to the Gentiles. However, this was years later. The young church had taken root before an official apostle to the Gentile was anointed. For three years, Jesus and his disciples ministered in Israel. At Pentecost, people from many nations came and took the gospel to their nations.
A wise man would plant a seed where it’s most likely to grow. Then, when it yields many fruits, he can spread the thousands of seeds to all parts of the world where some would fall on harsh soil and not succeed while some will fall on soft soil, take root, and succeed.