The Next One
What a privilege it was this morning to be taken on a tour of Hope of Life by none other than Carlos Vargas, the founder. He shared with us the creation of the organization first: After being struck with gout and laying in bed for 4 1/2 months waiting to die, he was visited by a girl who was blind and poor. His perpective was immediately changed. He asked God to heal him so that he could dedicate his life to serving the homeless and poor. Doctors told him he would never walk again, but the next morning he got up and walked a block down the road to look at an acre of land that had just become available. The acre he bought was the first of 3,000 acres that now make up Hope of Life. That was 25 years ago…today Hope of Life employs 450 people and hosts 8,000-10,000 volunteers each year.
Our first stop on the tour was Kelly’s House, a home for special needs children. Carlos rescued Ulises about a year ago. His mother brought Ulises to Carlos asking him to pray over him before he died. He was completely emaciated, suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, and covered in ulcers and maggots. Now, he’s healthy and he’s starting to walk again…he even aspires to be a banker.
While visiting the nursing home (where Scott was thrilled to find a fellow Tarheels fan), Carlos told the story of a volunteer asking, “Out of all the projects you do, what do you consider the best one?” Carlos’ answer? “The next one.” His passion is to be a dream maker…to meet the physical needs of the people so that he can then have the opportunity to meet their spiritual needs.
After lunch, we split into 2 groups serving in the baby rescue center and the orphanage. Hope of Life rescues more than 2,000 children each year from abuse and neglect. Some children are so malnourished that their growth is severely hindered. We met a 13 year old who was being fed through a tube in a crib and looked to be the size of a 3 or 4 year old. Our group was able to help the workers bathe, feed, and hold the children.
The orphanage houses about 100 children. The boys and girls enjoyed playing with the chalk, jump ropes, mini footballs, and frisbees we brought. They were especially excited to receive the necklaces our Dan River Church kids made and donated during VBS this year. It was so sweet to see the name of the child who made it on the back of each necklace as we handed them out.
Thank you again to all of you who have so graciously supported us and prayed for us.