On Thursday afternoon, Feb. 22, Option Line answered a live chat from “Jennifer,” a 19-year-old in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
As God would have it, Jennifer is the 3 millionth person to cry out for help since Option Line first answered the call in 2003.
We want to tell you a bit about Jennifer, and invite you to join us in praying for Jennifer, her baby and family in this time of great need. And one more thing: We want to ask you to check your listing on OptionLine.org to make sure we have the latest information, so we can connect women just like Jennifer to life-saving help.
Now, to Jennifer’s story:
Realizing she was pregnant, Jennifer had found Option Line—our 24-7, 365 helpline (1-800-712-HELP and OptionLine.org)—by searching online for help.
Even though it was well into the evening by the time Jennifer reached out, Option Line was ready to help her. In seconds, she was chatting with "Melinda," one of our professionally trained consultants who’s answered over 45,000 cries for help.
Melinda has two goals with each woman she helps:
First, she prayerfully works to calm the woman’s initial fears, as well as ask and answer any questions she can.
Second, she does everything in her power to encourage that woman to get help at a local pregnancy center.
As they chatted, Jennifer said she felt caught between the “right” thing to do and the “easy” thing to do. She just wanted to get this whole thing behind her.
Melinda prayed, listened, and asked questions to help Jennifer feel empowered to make a decision for life.
Before they ended the chat, Melinda offered to connect Jennifer directly with A Hope Center—a Heartbeat International affiliate—in Fort Wayne. As she so often does, Melinda also offered to pray for Jennifer and reassured her that she’s not alone.
Will you join us in praying for Jennifer this week?
Helpful Option Line Links:
Want to reach more clients through Option Line?
Well of course you do! Here's 5 quick ways to drive up contacts you receive from Option Line:
Thank you for all you do to promote life in your community!
Current affiliates of Heartbeat International can forward calls to Option Line after hours as a complimentary benefit of affiliation.
In order to take advantage of this benefit, just set your call forwarding to 1-800-712-4357. If you don't currently use call forwarding, you'll need to contact your telephone company to get that set up. Be sure to ask your telephone service provider whether setting up an auto-attendant is an option; an auto-attendant makes it possible to direct crisis calls to Option Line, while leaving callers who are not in crisis with the option of leaving a message on your center’s voicemail system.
There is no additional paperwork or permission needed on our end. But, we do ask you to simply call Option Line on our business line (614-802-2808) to let us know when you're ready to start.
We also welcome call forwarding as needed during your regular hours (for example, during staff meetings or if you are short staffed), but we ask that you call to notify us know when you'll be available again, so we can pass that information on to your clients.
Option Line is available 24/7, including all holidays, so we can take your calls for extended periods of time as well. Once again, we ask that you notify us as to how long you'll be gone, so we can best serve your clients.
We recommend you train all staff (who are on the phones) to turn call forwarding on/off to make sure your calls always get to the right place at the right time.
Tiffany and her son, Jonathen, in 2016.
by Carrie Beliles, International Program Specialist
Last week, I received a Facebook message in the middle of the night. Most Facebook messages in the middle of the night are no big deal, but for me, this specific message was.
Why? Because God knew this message was exactly what I needed to hear at that specific moment.
I needed to wake up, to be shaken out of where I was mentally and reminded of a principle God taught me four years ago.
It is not about me. It is all about Him.
Let’s go back to four years ago, when I found myself the newly appointed executive director of a pregnancy help center in Germany. While I didn’t speak German, the center actually served a unique, English-speaking clientele. Our abortion-vulnerable clients consisted entirely of women connected to the largest U.S. military base outside of the United States.
And, I took on this role by accident. No kidding, by “accident.” Totally under-qualified, I had never worked in the pro-life world. I’d never been trained or even so much as volunteered at a pregnancy center.
I did however, have a background in the fight against human trafficking, where I worked directly with victims, so I understood there are hurting people all over the world who needed to be shown compassion. My only real qualification was God had been teaching me to love others and meet them where they were.
More importantly, I was also hurting. Having just walked through a recent trial in my own life, my marriage had weathered several years as a military wife, complete with constant separations that are part of the job description. Add to that, I was pregnant with my fourth of now five children.
Because of these—what I considered—disqualifying factors, I assumed I wasn’t ready to minister to others. After all, shouldn’t I fix myself first, then move on to help others? That’s how I was thinking, but of course, I was wrong.
Learning to Handle the “Tough Questions”
As the newly installed executive director, my board sent me to the 2012 Heartbeat International Annual Conference in Los Angeles, hopeful that a one-week training would help start me on the right foot.
In a city famous for its movie stars, dreams and miracles, I was slightly overwhelmed with the actual size of the conference. Heartbeat, I learned, is an international organization uniting over 2,000 affiliates working toward a common life-saving goal. Just walking the halls and meeting others who were doing this amazing work all over the world was an inspiration.
Though I was encouraged, I felt out of my league. Every one else at the conference seemed to be a much better director, board member or volunteer than I could hope to be. All week long, I kept thinking they all must know what they are doing. It was a humbling experience, to say the least.
The last day of conference, I attended a session titled “Answering Tough Calls” with Bri Laycock, the director of Heartbeat’s 24-7 pregnancy helpline, Option Line. Having served with Option Line since shortly after its formation in 2003, Bri was confident and it seemed she was able to answer everything thrown her way. She was professional, ready and prepared—everything I felt I wasn’t.
At the end of the workshop, there was a Q-and-A session. An attendee raised her hand and posed a situation she recently faced. I sat back and listened, thinking, “I have no clue what I would do in that situation.”
The client, it turned out, was pregnant in the midst of a marriage that was falling apart due to infidelity. Multiple families were involved, and the baby this woman was carrying would be of a different race from the client’s husband and her other children. There was no hiding the breech of trust.
I was overwhelmed just picturing the scenario. The consensus approach from the class, and from Bri, was, “Keep her on the phone, keep the connection open, and take it one day at a time.” I remember thinking how glad I was to not be dealing with that situation.
Two weeks later. Tiffany called the hotline.
I had just closed up the center, picked up my daughter from kindergarten and was on the autobahn heading home after a long day when the phone rang.
One Day at a Time
Tiffany’s first question was whether we perform abortions and, if so, when could she make the earliest appointment. As I listened, mother-to-mother to someone desperate with fear, I offered to meet up and talk. When someone, like Tiffany, needs to talk, they just need someone to listen. I could do that.
A mother of three young boys, a married family friend had taken advantage of Tiffany while her husband was deployed in the Middle East. Now, she was pregnant. My heart sank as I realized I knew the wife whose husband was the father of Tiffany’s baby.
My thoughts went back to that session at the Heartbeat International Annual Conference. I’d only been back a couple of weeks, so the conversation—and that fleeting sense of relief that, at least I wasn’t dealing with this situation—was still fresh in my mind.
I asked myself, “What would Bri do in this situation? How would she handle this ‘Tough Question?” How on earth could I help to “fix” this?
That’s when Bri’s answer at the workshop crystalized in my mind: Keep her on the phone. Keep the connection open. Take it one day at a time.
As I got to know Tiffany and listened to her story, God began to teach me to take one step at a time, one day at a time. I wasn’t going to “fix” Tiffany’s situation. There was no formula. There were very few words of wisdom I could offer.
I only had the love of Christ, which I have seen and experienced in my own life, and which I could draw upon to share with someone who was hurting, alone and scared. Extending love was all Tiffany needed at that moment. Looking back, I’m sure that, had I tried to impart counseling methods or a fixed scenario, I may have missed an opportunity to actually love her.
The Miracle of Love
This life of love starts right where we are. I didn’t have years of training or relevant experience; it was a core principle that came to light in the “Tough Questions” workshop that set me on course. Stay on the line. Keep the connection open. Take it a day at a time.
Often, we count ourselves out even before we give ourselves the chance to see how God works through us. Whether it’s our perceived gap in our qualifications, preparation or “life-togetherness,” we need to remember that it’s God who works through us, and He’s the one who qualifies the unqualified.
Hitting my Facebook message folder four years after we first met, Tiffany’s note jarred me out of the same thought pattern to which I—and I’m guessing, you—tend to default.
Tiffany is now a homeschooling mother of five young boys. She’s going back to school to pursue a degree in crisis counseling. She reached out to let me know that, because of the way God worked through our relationship, she wants to do the same for others.
What a powerful reminder of the God who supplies our every need “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” I know He has supplied mine. What a blessing to know He’s done the same for Tiffany.
You can read Tiffany’s story here.
by Jennifer Minor, Editor/Writer
If you’ve visited our job registry lately, you know that Heartbeat International is looking for an Office Assistant right now. (By the way, please share this link with anyone who might be interested in serving the administrative needs of Heartbeat.)
We hope you’ve had the pleasure of speaking with our soon-to-be former office assistant, Hannah Sapp. While we’re sad to see Hannah move on, we are thrilled to tell you that Hannah’s move will be no further than down the hall—to our 24-7 contact center, Option Line.
“It’s all an adventure,” Hannah says. “While I’m leaving a team I love, I’m also joining a team I love.”
Hannah has been a light at Heartbeat Central. Coming with a heart for teen girls and sexual integrity, she was excited to learn more about what serving young women looks like from a nonprofit perspective when she first joined our team in early 2014.
With an eventual hope of starting a transitional housing project for vulnerable young women, Hannah has had a front-row seat to Heartbeat International’s burgeoning partnership with the National Maternity Housing Coalition, which started in April of 2013.
Hannah certainly has learned a lot on the Ministry Services team. Besides being one of the first to answer phone calls, she never misses a chance to ask a question and find out more about what our affiliates face, from client issues to legal issues, offering prayer and passing along prayer requests to the rest of our team.
From day one, Hannah has shown a learner’s mentality, gaining a grasp on a wide variety of issues our affiliates face every day.
But something was missing.
Hannah’s heart for teen girls inspired her to pick up a few hours a week at Option Line to serve that community with a message of hope, love, and compassion. Very quickly, it became clear that Option Line is where Hannah is being called full-time for the next season in her life.
The job of an Option Line consultant is unique and challenging. The 650 women (and sometimes men!) who reach out to Option Line every day via phone, email, text and live chat are in desperate need of another person. That’s why Hannah and her fellow consultants direct each caller to your pregnancy help organization, where they can get the in-person help they don’t always know they need.
It’s Hannah’s position at Heartbeat International—passing on encouragement and feedback, equipping pregnancy help leaders, and praying with staff and affiliates—that has brought her to a place where she can serve women at Option Line well.
“I can send callers to our affiliates because I have seen the value of their centers,” Hannah says. “I have confidence that when they go there, they will receive hope.”
So as Hannah moves down the hall, take the chance the next time you call in to say hi and thank her for all the work she's done—and will do—for you and for the women we’re serving together.
COLUMBUS, OH - Less than two months into the calendar year, 2016 is shaping up to be a major marker in Heartbeat International’s history. The network is welcoming its 2,000th affiliated pregnancy help organization and celebrating the 13th anniversary of its 24-7 pregnancy helpline, Option Line.
Called into existence by local pregnancy centers in 1971 as the first-ever network of pregnancy help, Heartbeat International’s 2,000th affiliate is First Choice Pregnancy Center, a medical center offering free ultrasound scanning, STI testing, pregnancy testing and more in Weatherford, Oklahoma, home of Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
The center’s executive director, Kathy Gibson, whose journey to pro-life work began shortly after she experienced an abortion, attended Heartbeat International’s Pregnancy Help Institute in Dec. 2015, along with her executive assistant.
“In 20 years in this work, I have never experienced anything like it,” Gibson said of the Institute. “From there, joining Heartbeat International was a no-brainer. I feel like Heartbeat is in touch with who we are and where we are, and we love the personal touch that Heartbeat offers.”
Option Line (1-800-712-HELP; OptionLine.org) represents one of the central visions of Heartbeat International’s founding generation—comprised of pro-life ob-gyns and an unsung hero of the Holocaust—of a hotline connecting callers with help near them.
Since answering its first call in 2003, Option Line has responded to over 2.35 million contacts, including phone calls, live chats, texts and emails. The helpline answered over 243,000 contacts—650 every day—in 2015. Option Line also increased its web traffic in 2015 by launching a new iteration of OptionLine.org, and has expanded its capability of connecting contacts directly to local pregnancy help to over 500 locations.
Overall, Option Line refers to 2,250 pregnancy help organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada.
“It’s incredible to think of the children who are becoming teenagers this year who may never have been if not for Option Line,” Bri Laycock, director of operations for Option Line, said. “We are convinced now more than ever that local pregnancy help is what makes the difference between life and abortion for so many mothers. That’s why our energies have always been—and will always remain—focused on connecting callers and website visitors to pregnancy help people near them.”
At 2,000 affiliate locations worldwide, including a presence on every inhabited continent, Heartbeat International continues to be the largest network of pregnancy help.
Hosting its 45th Annual Conference March 29-31 in Atlanta, Heartbeat International announced a leadership transition in early January, as Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., the organization’s president of 22 years, took on new responsibilities as Chairman of the Board, promoting longtime vice president Jor-El Godsey as only the second president in the 45-year history of the network.
A high school senior just weeks away from graduation, Jana was on top of the world. She had just been accepted into her dream college and had one more carefree summer before packing up and leaving for her new adventure.
Everything was on track. That is, until Jana began to suspect that maybe, just maybe, her path had suddenly changed directions.
Jana’s friend bought her a pregnancy test, and the pair took it to her friend's house, so that Jana’s parents wouldn't suspect anything was up. The strategy had a short shelf life, however, as the pregnancy test showed positive… she was pregnant.
Even though she felt pressured to abort her baby, Jana was terrified that some day she would regret it.
Jana cried all afternoon and well into the night. Finally, in desperation, she typed in"abortion stories" to her search engine, hoping to find stories of post-abortion women who had gone on to live happy, fulfilled lives.
What she found was StandUpGirl.com. Jana read story after story about young women just like her who had submitted to an abortion and later shared their experience on the online forum. Story after story was shared as encouragement to not make the same mistake as the writer.
Moved by what she read, Jana clicked a box on the sidebar, opening up a live chat program.
The chat link connected Jana to an Option Line® consultant, who answered her immediately. Jana poured out her heart, sharing her fears, and what she'd read on StandUpGirl. She shared that, while she wanted to protect and care for her baby, she felt it would be selfish to bring a child into the world without a good job, house, or stability.
On the other end of the live chat, the Option Line consultant helped Jana understand that giving her child life was the most unselfish thing she could do. She explained to Jana that, in addition to single parenting or married parenting, Jana could also choose to parent through adoption, entrusting her child into the hands of an adoptive family.
She also let Jana know that help was available to her. A pregnancy center would be able to work with her for everything from diapers and wipes to maternity clothes and community referrals for help with food and medical care.
As the early morning conversation came to a close, Jana agreed to visit a center in her area, and told the Option Line consultant she finally felt ready to sleep, knowing that a brighter day lay ahead.
While Heartbeat’s Option Line® gains most of its traffic from its own advertising and web presence, the 24-7 pregnancy helpline also partners with several national organizations like StandUpGirl.com and TeenBreaks.com to reach over 1,000 contacts per month—just like Jana—via live chat and text.
As a Heartbeat International affiliate, your pregnancy help organization is automatically listed on Heartbeat's Option Line® (1-800-712-HELP), a 24-7 pregnancy helpline that answers over 650 calls, emails, text messages and live chats every day, sending callers to local help organizations like yours. Our job is to help you care for her. Here are a few of the ways we do that.
Every contact Heartbeat’s Option Line® makes costs about $4.25. We refer an average of 42 contacts a year to each of our more than 2,500 listed pregnancy help organizations. That’s a value of $178.50 per year for your organization alone!
On OptionLine.org, a client can search for a center near her. Each month in the past year, an average of over 200 searches on OptionLine.org have turned up your center. Our top-10 centers all averaged over 7,000 views in the last year, bringing women in desperate need of help face-to-face with your center’s information.
Does your center struggle to cover the phones overnight? Option Line is your answer for overnight help. You can also forward your calls to Option Line when you can't cover a shift. Rather than hearing a recording, a woman will speak to a real human being, who will answer her initial questions and connect her to help right in her area—that is, you!
As the phone center manager for Pregnancy Resource Center of Gwinnett, Georgia, Lana Duffell has very little time to call her own.
Without the persistent effort put forth by Lana and her co-laborers, the call from a local woman or girl facing the desperate circumstance of an unexpected pregnancy might fall through the cracks, and cause her to choose abortion as the only option she can see at the moment.
So most days, Lana keeps her nose to the grindstone and her ear to the phone.
But when Lana and her staff decided to take time off during this Christmas season, she had no concerns about the calls and contacts that were sure to come in. Lana and her staff had full confidence that, even if they wouldn’t be there to answer the phone, Heartbeat International’s Option Line® would.
While Lana and her staff rested and reenergized for the coming year, the staff at Option Line routed a total of 39 calls and contacts to Pregnancy Resource Center, ensuring that not one woman seeking help fell through the cracks.
“Option Line has been there for us on a 24/7 basis, when we are in meetings and also when our phone lines are overwhelming,” Lana says. “With Option Line, we are at peace, knowing that our callers will get a live person who can offer them information about abortion alternatives or set an appointment so that we can do further counseling.
“Option Line answers our calls when we are not available, making the difference between losing a life and saving it.”
Since it opened shop in 2003, Option Line has answered the call more than 1.5 million times, in addition to 2.5 million unique visitors to its website, www.OptionLine.org.
That translates to a staggering amount of birthdays, which otherwise would never have been. For now, we’ll celebrate just one: Happy 10th Birthday, Option Line!
Since answerering its first phone call in early 2003, Heartbeat International's Option Line® has responded to over 1.5 million calls, text messages, emails and instant chats from women and familes facing unexpected pregnancies. Option Line staff are available 24/7, 365 days per year to answer callers' questions and connect them to pregnancy help organizations within their local communities, utlizing Heartbeat's Worldwide Directory of Pregnancy Help.
In their own words...
"I worked at Option Line for five years, and during that time, I watched it grow to become a premiere resource for women and men in pregnancy crisis. It was a great pleasure for me to work for an organization that believed in the strength and courage of women."
~April, Heartbeat International Ministry Services Specialist, former Option Line employee
"I love being a part of Option Line, and I feel honored to be in a position to reach so many young girls, women, and men from all over the world. I truly enjoy talking with callers and being able to help and support them by showing Jesus' love. Hearing that I've helped someone makes my day!"
~Julie, Option Line employee for 4 years
"Working at Option Line is an adventure! The job is never the same one day to the next, and knowing that what we do here reaches people in more than 100 countries every month never stops amazing me. Sometimes the calls are funny, and sometimes they're heart-breaking, but my favorite kind of call is when we hear back from someone who wants to tell us about their new baby and thank us for being there when they needed help."
~Bri, Director of Option Line Operations, Option Line employee for 10 years
~Chris, Option Line employee for 3 years
Listen to the positive impact Option Line has:
Web Design and Development by Extend Web Services