By Laura Roesler
In the weeks since the start of the current virus pandemic, God has been doing what He always does – taking something bad and using it for something good.
He is showing His goodness and care for women, men and children in many ways. One of those is through the services of Option Line, a 24/7, pro-life contact center for individuals seeking help and answers, as well as for local pregnancy help centers (PHCs) needing supplemental services.
One consultant summed up her motivation to work with Option Line this way, “Sometimes it is the one baby that you save, sometimes it is just being able to connect with the caller[s] to help them feel like they are not alone, they can do this, and someone has their back, and that they have been heard.”
The coronavirus currently spreading across the country is not stopping the spread of pro-life compassionate care, especially for local PHCs that get help from Option Line, a service of Heartbeat International. Option Line is available to support PHCs as they continue helping women, men and babies with critical needs – even some of the centers have to temporarily cut back hours or staff, or close their doors in the interim.
Option Line’s Director, Nafisa Kennedy said, “The role of Option Line has always been to connect with local PHCs so that families can receive tangible, ongoing support.”
While Option Line’s role hasn’t changed, what has changed is a large increase in contacts – an over 40% higher call volume in recent weeks.
Kennedy also sees an increase in need for “urgent, practical help, baby materials, pregnancy tests…people trying to connect with a [local] pregnancy center.”
Since pro-life organizations are not only about helping save babies’ lives, but also about supporting men, women and families, Option Line connects contacts with local pregnancy centers who can help meet their needs.
Option Line also aids Heartbeat International in remaining consistent in carrying out its pregnancy help mission.
Of the pro-life mission one of the staff members said, “We may be the only person they [contacts] can initially get ahold of to offer them comfort, encouragement, and support right now.”
Another consultant added, “I like being able to stand in that gap and offer hope and options to someone who is scared, or doesn’t know what to do, who may not have thought any other option was possible.”
Kennedy points out that because of current social distancing measures, “We’re serving pregnancy centers in new ways. We’re currently answering after-hours, or 100% of the time, for more than 100 PHCs. We have over 900 that use our after-hours call center. We’re picking up the times they can’t.”
Because many of Option Line’s staff work part time, they have been able to step up and take extra shifts to cover the increased calls and needs.
Kennedy has great confidence in the staff and appreciates their extra work. “Everyone really is pitching in,” she noted.
One consultant said, “I love that we are on the frontlines of helping women in really tough times, that our conversations could literally change the track that someone is on to make a huge impact on their life.”
COVID-19 has caused “a constantly changing environment, and Option Line has been rolling with it as it goes,” noted Lisa Bourne, managing editor of Pregnancy Help News.
Adjusting during pandemic brings opportunities to serve
The need for adjustment has brought new opportunities.
“We have to consider new ways to meet client needs,” Kennedy said. “Many centers have adapted to meet clients remotely. Some are adding online classes. We’re encouraging PHCs to do texting, live chat – to be open and adaptable and not let the circumstances be discouraging. It’s been an opportunity for God to grow individuals and to teach us.”
Currently, one of Option Line’s greatest needs is for frequent updates from the PHCs they serve.
Kennedy says she loves working “with the PHCs in our network.”
“We are contacted almost hourly by centers letting us know how they will be serving clients during the pandemic,” she said. “We have been given alternate contact information that we can use to connect callers in some cases, and we also can schedule appointments for some locations while they are working on an appointment-only basis. PHCs have been great about sharing their hours and any changes in services – that helps us so much.”
When asked about their financial needs Kennedy noted that donations “from generous donors to Heartbeat International [would help] to fund the additional shifts we have had to open to answer cries for help from women who will make a pregnancy decision today. We are praying and trusting God to provide for every need within our movement.”
Life-affirming work brings hope
In a time when many feel a loss of hope, workers in the Christian pro-life movement can be a source of help.
An Option Line worker summed up the outcome of her work, “I love knowing that we have the opportunity to shift someone’s life in a positive way when they may have no positive influence or direction in their life. I love knowing that we can be the ones to plant a seed of hope in their hearts when they may not have thought that there is hope left for their situation.”
Kennedy added, “Our biggest need is to remain available to our callers. For Option Line staff, we request prayer for stamina to meet the increased contact volume.”
Another consultant said, “to know we might be the only life-giving voice of hope they [the contacts] speak to gives me the desire to carry on.”
Kennedy has already seen answers to their prayers.
“So far, God has given our staff GREAT health,” she said. “This whole week we have been fully staffed, even with the additional shifts I had to open to accommodate the increase in contact volume, which is remarkable!”
“Fear is not impacting us with moving forward,” Kennedy said. We’re here to help PHCs continue ministries regardless of outside circumstances.”
The staff members agree, as one of them added, “God has this all under control, and He is the one giving us the strength to extend help…by extending services to centers and women.”
Editor’s note: Pregnancy Help News, where this appeared, is a project of Heartbeat International, which also manages Option Line. The best way to help the pregnancy help movement in serving women amid the pandemic is to get involved locally, connecting directly with a local center. Individuals can do that through Option Line (OptionLine.org) to find the closest center, and see what they need, both through donations and volunteers. Option Line staff members are paid and require thorough training, evaluation and continuing education. Hiring is done through www.heartbeatservices.org/job-registry.