TheHopeLine® is the off-air “let’s talk” branch of the ministry where teenagers and young adults can speak with a trained HopeCoach through instant message chat about whatever challenges they are facing.
Since 1991, the Dawson McAllister Association has demonstrated a deep and special commitment to pulling teenagers and young adults out of harm’s way. After more than 1 million one-on-one conversations, after thousands of abuse reports and suicide interventions, after dealing with eating disorders, cutting, and substance abuse, and after speaking truth over every kind of spiritual confusion and dysfunction imaginable, we have adopted this quote from missionary C.T. Studd to best describe our work. We are a rescue shop within a yard of Hell.
The History of DMA’s RESCUE
Two major endeavors had their birth in 1991. In January it was the launch of the Christian radio show. A call-in talk radio show for teenagers was a radical idea at the time, but it began to work almost instantly. Stations were being added quickly and more and more teenagers were calling in every week. (See REACH for more about Christian radio).
But after a few months it became painfully clear that for many, a 5 minute on-air conversation was not nearly enough. Their problems were often deep and painful. Dawson gave great counsel, shared Scripture and prayed for them, but too often he would have to end the call with , I’m sorry I can’t do more for you. In his words, I didn’t sign on to do, “I’m sorry radio.” He realized that the show needed a back-end, a place for personal follow-up with each call.
1991 TheHopeLine Opens — October was the landmark month when Dawson began inviting listeners to call in to the new Off-air, let’s talk HopeLine. In those days the hours were limited. “After school’s the rule” is how it was promoted for many years. And it was telephones only. No chat, no computers or databases, no call center technology; not even a website. Just a toll-free number (1-800-394-HOPE), and a handful of dedicated folks who were committed to listening, to straight talk and to sharing the love and compassion of Christ as each call allowed.
2000 Rescue Interrupted — There are times when reality overcomes vision. A lack of finances led to a temporary closing of TheHopeLine® for about 6 months.
2005 Opening Satellite HopeLine Coaching Centers — The new Top 40 radio show changed the dynamic. As stations began to sign on, the choice was made to distribute TheHopeLine® in more locations. Because HopeCoaches had to operate out of a central call center, this would create more regional identification and a larger pool of potential volunteers from which to recruit. From 2005- 2008, new regional centers opened in Oklahoma City, OK, Sioux Falls, SD, Harrisburg, PA, and Minneapolis, MN.
2009 Opening Christian College Satellite Coaching Centers — The satellite call center strategy expanded to include student HopeCoaches operating on select Christian College Campuses. Since its inception, 6 colleges opened or continue to operate a student staffed HopeLine coaching center including, Liberty University, Lancaster Bible College, Ohio Christian University, Dordt College, Colorado Christian University, and Union University.
2013 24/7 service begins — Growing the availability, capacity and quality of TheHopeLine has been a constant goal. In 2008 it only operated 37 hours per week. By 2012 that had grown to 124 hours per week. And by 2013 a very important goal was finally reached…Full 24/7 operation. That is 168 hours each week.
2015 A new corps of HopeCoaches — From its’ founding in 1991 until 2010 TheHopeLine operated primarily on a volunteer HopeCoach model. But in the last five years a clear trend has become visible…interactions have gotten harder, darker in content, and more resistant to spiritual conversations. We also came to realize that a volunteer model could not dependably sustain our expansion to 24/7 service. The need to have highly trained, very experienced and dependable HopeCoaches on a regular schedule became very clear.
Early in 2014, informed by these growing challenges, we began the transition to a primarily paid HopeCoach model. Training became more regular and in-depth; process, procedures and standards could be consistently enforced. The passion and drive of this very special team could now be cultivated and nurtured.
The Future of DMA’S RESCUE
Rescuing kids in crisis is personal, intense, and messy, but there are millions who need to hear that Christ can change their lives and; that living by Biblical values leads to better choices. By the grace of God we have learned how to do it and we continue to grow in expertise. Every day, 24/7, we are meeting them one-on-one, even those in far flung countries around the world.
A chatter from Australia wrote, “Last night I spoke on live chat with one of the people here and after we finished I started feeling better, I see hope. I got up and shaved, and put on a fresh shirt and today even went to get something to eat. I feel much better and I know its not much but I would like to donate something as I know you have helped me when I was in the dark hole. I know I’m not cured but I see hope, and I’m sure it was because of that chat and prayer I received! And who knows, maybe I am worth saving afterall.”
Our goal for DMA’s RESCUE in 2016 is to increase the number of interactions with teenagers and young adults by 20%, which is more than 5,000 each month. Join us in praying to God for the resources to meet the needs of the hopeless and hurting.