By Dick Scoggins
In the early 1980s, I began sponsoring a young Ph.D. student at Brown University who wanted to go do Kingdom work cross-culturally. He and his wife launched out with a new, inexperienced non-profit organization. Interestingly enough, in 1985, this young man introduced me to some leaders from his organization, Greg and Tim, who became my mentors and sponsors.
Over the next 8 years, these three men and I kept in touch about how to most effectively share God’s love and multiply new fellowships among unreached people groups. As I realized the potential that teams can have in advancing Kingdom work, I formed a small church planting team in Rhode Island which focused on starting house churches among unreached immigrant communities. We were also inspired by Harvey Conn, a professor at Westminster Seminary who pioneered ministry among what he called “hidden peoples” (i.e., immigrants living in urban centers who would never be reached by existing churches in the area due to their cultural differences). We had a diverse array of such people groups in Rhode Island, so we had a lot of opportunity to get involved in ministry right away.
Our team decided to focus on planting house churches among first-generation Italian and Polish Catholics, as well as communist Hungarians. It was amazing to see how what I was learning in Rhode Island had a great deal of relevance to teams working among unengaged people groups in Africa and Asia.
Tim and Greg encouraged me to work even closer with more pioneering apostolic teams by sponsoring me into relationships with several teams in their organization. After nearly a decade of partnership, they asked me to work with them full-time at their international headquarters where I could build a good mentoring support system for new teams. Thus, Tim and Greg’s sponsorship was instrumental for me to move out of my existing ministry in Rhode Island to have an even greater impact in multiple countries where there was very little Kingdom work being done. So my sponsoring a young man into ministry was used by God to cause the leaders of his organization to sponsor me into broader ministry. Sponsoring others can often lead to new opportunities for the sponsor.