The babies come in all sizes.
They arrive at the rescue center weighing anywhere from 1.5 to 36 pounds. Some are new-borns, some are 19 years old. Technically, then, they aren't all babies. But technicalities weigh little in matters of life and death. All the children brought here are helpless and need critical care—or they will die. Of the 1,200 children treated at the center last year, 85 did die.
I have traveled here with World Help, a faith-based humanitarian group located near my home in Virginia. World Help partners with ministries worldwide, bringing to impoverished communities a bit of America's bounty. One of World Help's more than 100 partners is Hope of Life here in Zacapa, a flat, fertile valley nestled next to the Rio Grande de Zacapa in eastern Guatemala.
Rescuing babies has brought me here.
The fragile, dying babies that surround me remind me of other babies I tried to rescue, years ago, in America, at the crisis pregnancy center. And at the abortion clinics. And even the ones I could not bear. I could not see or hear or hold those babies. But these I can. And I do.
Crossing to Hope
The ministry began in 1987, when Carlos Vargas made a sickbed bargain with God.
Born and raised in the Guatemalan village of Llano Verde, as a teenager Vargas left for the United States, where he became a successful businessman. But he was forced to return to Llano Verde when an unknown illness crippled him, threatening to keep him in the village the rest of his life. Moved one day by an elderly beggar, Vargas gave the man money and promised God that if he could get out of bed, he would spend his life serving the poor.
Both God and Vargas kept their word. Vargas recovered, and he soon built ...