By Lisa Bourne
There are many reasons why Option Line consultants do the work that they do. In fact, as each consultant touches countless lives through their work – being there and providing hope for others through often difficult personal circumstances – they themselves are touched as well by this human connection, and the reasons for serving multiply.
Option Line, a project of Heartbeat International, is the only fully staffed, bilingual 24/7 pro-life contact center in the U.S. and recently marked 20 years of connecting people in need to pregnancy help. This amounts to more than five million human connections since 2003 – -Option Line consultants helping people across the world- – one every 76 seconds. Option Line connects via phone, chat, email, and text, and clients are also served through an online center locator.
It has been said that the best answer to abortion is another person, because so many women at risk for abortion feel alone and believe they have no other choice. The consultants who staff Option Line provide a compassionate presence, and very often emotional triage, to people in need as they connect them to pregnancy help in their area.
Some consultants have been doing the significant and often arduous work of serving with Option Line for quite some time and others are newer to the frontlines.
Below are some of the very real human reasons why.
“My job changes lives”
“I know I belong here,” said Elizabeth, who has been with Option Line for eight years. “When I see how God sends callers like the one I just spoke with before I ended my shift – who are desperate, alone, scared, and do not know what to do or where to go – and they reach us, reach me – I know I belong here.”
Elizabeth’s caller was leaning toward abortion and felt she had no other option, and after the connection with Elizabeth, she will now go to a pregnancy center in her area to talk more about the idea of parenting.
“My job changes lives,” Elizabeth said.
“It truly blesses my heart”
Rebecca, a first-year consultant, herself had been a woman who was pregnant and scared. She did not seek help with a pregnancy help center at the time but wishes she had.
“I would have found great help there,” she said. “Knowing what I went through, I want the women who call the helpline to get the resources and kind listening ear I wish I had reached out for.”
“My own personal story has been helpful to women who cry on the phone with me about their hardships, and not knowing who or where to turn to,” said Rebecca.
“I am privileged that, when I ask if I can pray for them, they let me,” she added. “I can empathize with them, cry with them, make them laugh and just listen to their hurting hearts.”
“One of the most rewarding parts of my work at Option Line is when a client tells me they feel so much better about their situation than when we first spoke,” Rebecca said. “It truly blesses my heart.”
Sarah, also a first-year consultant, previously worked at Planned Parenthood.
“I have been able to experience both sides of the fence,” she said. “And I’m blessed to know that my work now saves lives.”
“In the short time I have been part of the Option Line team, I have had many interactions that reaffirm why I am here,” said Sarah. “I have had the honor to listen to the lonely and scared, to pray for the hopeless, and share the truth about our living God who redeems and restores.”
“I’ve had the opportunity to quietly shed my own tears as I hear a client’s story,” she said. “I’ve had the opportunity to encourage and also show love to perfect strangers by the grace of God.”
“I have laughed and cried with clients”
Yasmin said that working at Option Line has been very eye-opening.
“I have talked to women all over the world, and it amazes me how little we know of what goes on outside our homes,” she said. “This job has helped me mature as a woman, understanding the experiences of others.”
Yasmin, also in her first year, said it has helped her as a mother to be more aware of what teens are presented with during their tender years, and it has helped her become more empathetic to situations that she might have judged in the past.
“I have laughed and cried with clients,” she said, “and that is a connection that will always be memorable.”
“Sometimes, when callers reach us, they are near a breaking point,” said Yasmin. “We can help, and to support others in this way is a wonderful experience.”
“I know the Holy Spirit has helped me make a difference”
Chloe has served with Option Line for 12 years.
“I have noticed over the years that many callers don’t have anyone to talk to about their situations and feel alone and scared,” she said, “and other callers, who are post-abortion and still struggling with emotional issues, usually feel someone forced them into it.”
Chloe said the most heartwarming connects she experiences are when she asks an abortion-seeking client if she has considered all of her options and the client says no, but she is willing to go to a center and talk about her options.
“At the end of every shift, I know the Holy Spirit has helped me make a difference,” she said.
“It is a gift to be an ambassador for Christ to people across the globe”
Many Option Line consultants work remotely from their homes, and find, like Laurel, who has served with the contact center for two years, that ministering to others while being there for their families is rewarding.
“Option Line perfectly married my two desires and callings,” she said, “to work in the home disciplining my children and to work “outside” the home ministering to broken women in need of tangible resources and the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“It is a gift to be an ambassador for Christ to people across the globe,” said Laurel, “all while working from home.”
Sophia is another first-year consultant with Option Line. She said she has always had a heart for helping others and was at a point where her kids were older, her husband retired and life was slower, so this was her time to help others outside her role as a wife and mother.
“While I am not directly working hands-on or face-to-face with mothers, it still allows me to speak to women and men and help them,” she said.
“A breath of fresh air” to learn all that centers offer
Sophia remembers being a new mom and feeling lost, having no idea that there was help out there.
“When I learned all that our centers offer, it was a breath of fresh air,” Sophia said. “I knew I wanted to help others who may be in the same position I was in. I may not have been in crisis, but if I knew there were avenues for help that would have been such a wonderful blessing.”
She has spoken with women who are trying to conceive and go to a pregnancy center to find out if they are pregnant, and with abortion-minded individuals, connecting them to a center in their area.
“When I have an abortion-minded caller on the line and I let them know there is help, that I am here for them and they do have a support system, I can often hear those who really do not want an abortion breathe a sigh of relief,” Sophia said.
“I could hear the pain and hurt in her voice”
Lisa, who has two years with Option Line, recounted working on a Friday night when things were slow, and she decided to pray for a little while. It was just about midnight, her shift was ending, and she was getting ready to log out when she received a call from a young girl.
“When I picked up the phone all I heard was crying,” Lisa said. “She was not speaking. I told her that it was okay, and I would wait on the phone until she was able to talk.”
Lisa knew it was going to be a longer call, but it was actually perfect timing, she said, because since her shift was technically over, she was able to log out of all other forms of communication (chats/texts/emails) and just focus on this caller.
“When the crying finally subsided, she told me that she had an abortion and had tried to take her own life after the abortion,” Lisa recalled. “She said she didn’t understand why God spared her life (during the attempted suicide) since she [had] taken her baby’s life in the abortion. I could hear the pain and hurt in her voice.”
The young girl also hadn’t told her mom yet about the abortion, Lisa said, so she must have been feeling very alone.
“I told her that I knew why God had spared her life, because He loves her and has a plan for her,” said Lisa. “I was able to talk with her about forgiveness – about God’s forgiveness and about her being able to forgive herself.”
“I used the analogy of a dollar bill,” Lisa continued, “that, even if you crumple it up, it still maintains its value and is still worth its original dollar value. I talked about how sin and wrong choices can leave us crumpled up and broken, but we still maintain our value in God’s eyes. He created us and loves us.”
She and her client then prayed a prayer for salvation.
“After we prayed that prayer, she said it felt like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders,” said Lisa.
Angela received a text while working at Option Line from a client who was seeking post-abortion help.
“She felt deep remorse and guilt,” said Angela, who is in her first year with Option Line. “I referred her to a local pregnancy center and counseling services, for which she seemed very thankful.”
Then her client mentioned faith, and Angela began speaking with her about the Lord, praying with her so she would accept forgiveness with Jesus.
“She began to feel His presence and peace as we prayed together,” Angela said. “I was overcome with emotion throughout this interaction because God was meeting her right where she was, and she was able to encounter Him because Option Line was there for her – literally at midnight.”
“She told me that she was ready to heal”
Tessa also had a connect who was looking for post-abortive help and support.
“She was an older caller and had her abortion years ago and was just now ready to deal with the pain and guilt she had carried with her for decades regarding her abortion,” Tessa explained. “It was a great conversation and she wanted and took every after-abortion help number, hotline, pregnancy center help that I had to offer her.”
“She told me that she was ready to heal and she would be reaching out to the resources I was able to provide for her,” said Tessa, who has been serving for two years. “It was a good reminder to me, that even in our seemingly hopeless situations, no matter how long it takes us to deal with our past, God is faithful and is always there waiting for us, to heal us.”
“I was able to give them a ray of hope”
Tonya, who has 12 years with Option Line, had witnessed people close to her facing an unplanned pregnancy and continually offered them the support that she could, and she herself became a single mother not long after starting with Option Line.
“The calls I received cemented that I was in the right place as a lot of the callers were concerned about raising a baby alone,” she said. “I was able to give them a ray of hope from my own experience and refer them to a pregnancy help center; most of our callers do not know that kind of help exists.”
“Now, when I have a caller who doubts she will have a future, doubts whether she will be loved by anyone else if she has another man’s baby, I can confidently tell her of my own life,” Tonya said. “If and when the right man comes along he will not care if that baby is his or not. He will love them as his own. God has a plan even if you cannot see it at the time.”
Sometimes being the hands and feet of Jesus is as simple as being a listening ear
“I’ve had quite a few client interactions that have reaffirmed why I’m here,” said Ashlyn, who is in her second year serving at Option Line. “One, in particular, came in a feedback comment after the chat had ended. It said, ‘I feel a lot safer now.’”
“We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus,” she said, “and sometimes that’s as simple as being a listening ear.”
“We can only take them so far on the helpline,” said Ashlyn, “which is why we refer to our affiliates for ongoing support.”
“But the impact we do have I believe is eternal,” she said. “When I hear someone tell me how appreciative they are that we were there to listen, it shows me that God has me here for a reason, that I am a vessel for him, and I’ll be here until he tells me I’m done.”
Help is available from Option Line via call or text at 1-800-712-4357 or at OptionLine.org. The center locater is available HERE.
Editor’s Note: Heartbeat International manages both Option Line and Pregnancy Help News.
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