Skip to content

When the Crowd Moves Us to Compassion

  • BAM

Marketplace and Development Enterprises provides services for a growing number of members making disciples in the “marketplaces” of the world. Thanks to the development of technology, MDE can walk alongside members virtually, although we have never met many of them in person.

In this respect, we share something in common with Starting Point Counseling Services, a clinic that offers its services both locally and virtually. They are currently in 10 countries and in 6 languages. We recently met with Scott and Cheryl* to interview them about their vision for Starting Point and their experience as members of MDE. 

“We want to be on the forefront of the gospel going forth through the avenue of mental health,” Scott shared during the interview. “It is encouraging that many counselors are interested in working with us. There is the potential to expand our reach through personnel and additional languages. Imagine having a network of churches and organizations worldwide that would bring us the wounded, broken, and vulnerable. We hope that we might come alongside people, not only in the church but also outside of the faith, who need help in mental health.”

A number of years ago, Scott and Cheryl moved to a city of eight million people for the purpose of church planting among a diverse population. Cheryl is a licensed professional counselor and was burdened with the needs of the people she saw around her, many of them from a South Asian background. “These people are traditionally excluded from counseling services because of cultural stigma or lack of finances,” explained Cheryl. “We believe Jesus desires to walk with wounded people and bring them into the light.” Starting Point Counseling Services was born out of a mission to make Christian counseling accessible to those in need. 

“One challenge has been that I am a counselor, not an entrepreneur. When we first were launching Starting Point, I felt like a little kid at the big kids’ table,” remembered Cheryl. “There was constant pressure knowing our employees depended on me to make this a success.” Scott has administrative giftings, but opening a counseling clinic with complicated privacy laws and accreditation was daunting. 

Among their church networks, they were unable to find business leaders who were familiar with starting a business overseas. Hiring capable attorneys and accountants was complicated and expensive. Help came through Scott’s brother, Ben, who knew from personal experience that the business experts with MDE could provide knowledgable, competent business support services to help launch Starting Point Counseling Services. “I told Scott about my good experience with MDE.” After an initial call, Scott quickly realized he had found a gold mine of wisdom and clear direction for their new business.

Cheryl says that MDE has been helpful to her personally. She no longer feels pressured to become an expert in everything needed to run a business. Instead, her time is focused on being a clinical director, training counselors, and caring for her clients well. “The business we are running is highly skilled and technical,” Scott said. “There have been times when we felt like a bomb squad without much training.” He has appreciated MDE’s counsel on accounting and legal questions at such times. The ground is firmer under their feet, having MDE with them.

“In many ways, I think counseling is a bit like the mud room of the gospel,” said Scott. “People can come in, drop their shoes, and be as muddy as they want. They don’t have to change; they don’t have to start giving any money away. But, they can give all of their shame and all of their guilt away. If we have a passion for that, I think the kingdom of God can go forward.”