Dordt College News

Students encourage others through HopeLine

May 18, 2011

Every Sunday evening between 10 p.m. and 12 a.m., eight students gather in the loft above the coffee shop in Kuyper Hall to try to bring hope to hurting teens and young adults.

Sixteen Dordt College students—eight each week—sit down at computer terminals and cell phones to chat or talk with callers to TheHopeline.

Dordt is one of six colleges across the nation that takes calls during the Dawson McAllister Live broadcast, a weekly national radio call-in program hosted by Dawson McAllister.  During his radio broadcast, McAllister encourages listeners to call the “off-air” HopeLine for help.

Jen De JongTheHopeline’s goal is to “reach, rescue, and restore” American teenagers, according to Dordt College alumna Jen (Schelhaas, ’93) De Jong. De Jong is the call center manager for TheHopeline in Sioux Falls and was instrumental in getting Dordt students involved. She led a training session on campus last fall, which was attended by more than 20 students. These students listen and they try to share the hope they have in Jesus by giving caring support. They connect callers with partner organizations who specialize in eating disorders, alcohol and drug addiction, pornography addiction, general and pregnancy counseling, suicide prevention, and mentorship programs. When callers give permission, they talk more specifically about the basis of their hope.

Dalton Moore, an engineering science major, helps coordinate the group’s efforts.

“There’s a big need for people to listen. The lines are often full,” he says. He, like some of the others prefer to take chat requests at this point, because it helps them be able to think before they respond and even confer with fellow callers occasionally.

Moore says he did not fully realize how hopeless many people feel and how broken many relationships are. It’s not only made him more sympathetic to others but also appreciative about “how good he’s had it.”

“It’s a great experience to engage a person who is struggling in conversation,” says Dr. Natalie Sandbulte, who teaches psychology. She attended the orientation session and some of her students are volunteers. “Just sitting with someone in pain can give a person a sense of purpose—puts things in perspective for them.” She believes it teaches people to be problem solvers and to be sensitive to the needs and hurts of others. Learning listening skills and how to ask questions that open up a conversation are good skills for students heading for a profession in social services but also for anyone. It helps students learn how to relate to others in sensitive and caring ways.

“I’m so impressed with the group of students that we have at Dordt,” says De Jong. “They are dedicated to serving and so willing to share their hearts and their hope in Christ with lost and lonely teenagers and young adults. They are making an impact.”

“One thing that is great about volunteering at TheHopeLine is that it provides students with an opportunity to talk with non-Christians about their faith,” says De Jong. “Growing up in a Christian school and attending a Christian college, I didn’t encounter many people who weren’t already believers. These callers are contacting us, looking for hope.” De Jong and the Dordt volunteers are trying to share that hope.

Find out more about TheHopeLine at


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