The mission field. A place unknown, brimming with adventure. For some, it calls to them–beckoning them to go where they have never gone, see what their eyes have never seen and to touch those who would otherwise be nameless faces in a crowd. Some find themselves unexpectedly burdened; when the wounded eyes of a young child stare up at them from a haunting picture or when the words of a worship song register for the first time. Yet others know this yearning their entire life, bearing under its weight looking for that moment when they can finally answer the call. Dr. French Jones was one of these special few.
A professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and a licensed counselor with his own private practice, Dr. Jones wrestled with what role he could play in the world of missions. He served on counseling-oriented missions projects, yet the beckoning of the field remained–softly probing him to continue searching for something more. Student after student began approaching Dr. Jones seeking his counsel on the same issue–counseling and missions. This slowly formed a pressing question. Who was helping “those who go”?
In 2009, Dr. Jones took a sabbatical from DTS for the sole purpose of exploring what resources existed for missionaries. While in Italy with his wife, Dr. Jones spent time with missionaries hearing what life was like for them. He came away with the deep realization that missionaries feel alone. They have no one to talk openly with. No one to share fears, concerns, and struggles with. They need someone to simply listen, someone to walk with them through the ups and downs of life.
An understanding resounded through Dr. Jones–this was it. This is why he had been burdened for the mission field his entire life.
Taking his knowledge of counseling and his burden for the lost world, he developed a vision. A vision to provide counseling to missionaries worldwide through web based video software. This would allow missionaries to stay in the field and receive the counseling they needed. However, Dr. Jones needed the help of someone who was good with computers, so he reached out to a student in the counseling program, Christopher Taylor. Christopher volunteered to help Dr. Jones and Global Counseling Initiative (GCI) was born.
Through the support of donors, mission agencies and churches, GCI launched their Pilot Program in March 2012. The program was the first full scale attempt at providing videoconference counseling services to missionaries across the globe. Cross-cultural counselors with mission experience were carefully selected and paired with missionaries. Designed to only be eight months long, the Pilot Program was a dry run to experiment with how things would function once GCI was fully operational. Due to the tremendous success of the program, GCI became fully functional in January 2013 and today is serving missionaries worldwide by bridging the gap for “those who go.”