HARLINGEN — It started as a call to prayer.
For some, it’s become a lifeline.
“We knew the youth helpline was going to be a blessing to people, but we had no idea that God would end up using it to the magnitude that he has so far,” said Sid Mitra, founder of Heaven Chose Me Inc.
The youth helpline is part of Heaven Chose Me Inc., a nonprofit that seeks to spread the gospel by opening a bridge between the community and church. It’s not affiliated with any church, but he and his wife Chai, a co-founder and one of five directors, attend Faith Pleases God Church. They coordinate their efforts with numerous churches.
Sid, 38, and Chai set up the youth helpline a little more than a year ago when they first arrived in Harlingen. They and their 19-year-old daughter Annika work the line.
“We get a lot of calls and text messages,” he said. “It’s basically for prayer or for help if you need any.”
It soon took on a much bigger role. A recent incident highlighted how important the helpline has become to many.
“It was at 3:21 in the morning,” he said. “We received a text message from a 13-year-old girl. She reached out to us and said that she was locked in her room and she was being attacked by a predator.”
He and his wife took quick action. While his wife stayed on the phone and continued texting the girl, Sid contacted the Cameron County Sheriff’s Department.
“It took awhile because the sheriff’s department had to find the house,” he said. “We got an address and we got the last name but it didn’t match the house. Then I had to look on Facebook and try to match the names somehow. I found the young lady’s mom on Facebook through some information that had been given to us from a lock-in from like a month prior. It was just really crazy.”
Finally, the last name matched the address. Law enforcement officials located the house, rescued the girl and arrested the predator.
The girl got their number from the lock-in she’d attended, one of many coordinated by the Mitras.
“We do a lot of community events,” he said. “We have hundreds of students that come to our lock-ins. Sometimes we go into schools during the school year.”
Sid and Chai had never had a specific “youth hotline” per se. They had given their numbers out while living in Oregon and Houston for those in need. But an incident right after their arrival in the Valley convinced them to create a special youth helpline.
“We went out to a school and I was the speaker for them on a Wednesday morning,” he recalled. “That following Sunday night I got a phone call from a parent of a 15-year-old who had hung herself. She didn’t attend that meeting but she was a student at that school, and I just knew there was more that we needed to do.”
Thus was born the youth helpline, which now reaches all.
“I had a man up in age that called about his marriage, so we offered a prayer for his marriage and we also offered counseling,” he said. “We’ve gotten several phone calls from suicidal teens. We ended up being able to talk to their parents through it, getting them the help that they need.”
He’s thankful and somewhat amazed at the work being done through the youth helpline.
“It’s been incredible,” he said. “You can never imagine the things that can happen if you just turn things over to God. So we definitely cannot take any credit for it but we know that God’s brought some great things to other families through it.”
How to reach them
FACEBOOK: SidandChai Mitra
YOUTH HELPLINE: 956-792-2416