Rescue is the process of providing emotional and spiritual triage to those who are struggling or in crisis. Today, Rescue at TheHopeLine.com takes many forms, including Live Chat with a trained HopeCoach.
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, coaching service called TheHopeLine. In those days the hours were limited. “After school’s the rule” is how it was promoted for many years. It was accessed by a toll-free number (1-800-394-HOPE), and staffed by 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. They answered hundreds of calls each week.
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 Coaching Centers for TheHopeLine — 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. Technology had enabled the transition to computerized call stations and a sophisticated database operations. While still needing to work out of a call center location, regional centers could be launched and linked together. This allowed for more regional identification and a larger pool of potential volunteers from which to recruit. Regional centers opened in Oklahoma City, OK, Sioux Falls, SD, Harrisburg, PA, and Minneapolis, MN.
2008 TheHopeLine.com was launched – Internet technology was creating more opportunities. TheHopeLine.com was launched as a gateway resource to many rescue resources.
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 student staffed HopeLine coaching center including, Liberty University, Lancaster Bible College, Ohio Christian University, Dordt College, Colorado Christian University, and Union University.
2015 A new corps of HopeCoaches — From its’ founding in 1991 the live coaching strategy operated on a volunteer HopeCoach model. By 2010 a clear trend developed…interactions were getting harder and darker in content, and more resistant to spiritual conversations. The need to have highly trained, very experienced and dependable HopeCoaches on a regular schedule became very clear. 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 especially in the area of suicide prevention and abuse reporting. The passion and drive of this very special team could now be cultivated and nurtured.
Today – TheHopeLine.com is a resource rich rescue operation. Millions of young people visit the site each year looking for answers to their struggles. Live Chat coaching operates every night of the week. Well trained HopeCoaches take chats from hurting young people around the globe. They listen with love and compassion as they seek to move those who hurt from crisis to Christ. To see how easy it is to connect, visit TheHopeLine.com and select Get Help from the menu bar.
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.
A young man 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 after all.”