Carlos Vargas is no ordinary businessman, to say the least. He owns a successful jewelry company that supplies thousands of major retail stores in the U.S., but he spends most of his time in Guatemala, serving the poorest of the poor.
Cross International President Jim Cavnar and several staff members had a chance to get to know Carlos during a recent trip to Guatemala, where his Esperanza de Vida ministry is providing food, medical care, shelter, education, and other services to destitute families in garbage dumps and rural mountainous areas. Everyone who met Carlos was impressed by his work and by his love for the Guatemalan people. His ministry is one among many that we support with shipments of medicines, medical supplies, and nutritional supplements.
Carlos admits that when he first committed his life to Christ at the age of 25, his heart wasn’t totally in it. “I was a church person, but not too close to God,” he said, adding with a laugh, “I think I only caused problems in church.” But God had plans for Carlos.
Years later, he contracted a severe case of gout. He lost fingernails and toenails, his limbs started to curl up, he couldn’t walk, and his doctors didn’t know what to do. Carlos feared he was going to die.
While bedridden, a blind beggar came to his door. “I had so much money, but I was too cheap to help this poor man. All I gave him was $5,” Carlos said. “As he was walking away, this strong idea came into my head. I was supposed to take care of people like this blind man.”
Carlos made a “business deal” with God. He promised that if God healed him, he would devote his life to the poor.
After several days of fervent prayer, Carlos sat up in bed and began walking again. His health was completely restored!
True to his promise, Carlos moved to his native country of Guatemala and used his business know-how to start Esperanza de Vida, which means “Hope of Life.”
“It’s not easy to be a missionary,” Carlos said to a church group of volunteers. “Sometimes we cry alone at night when we wonder how we’re going to meet our budget or we cry over the babies we lose…. Why do I do this? There will come a day when I’m going to close my eyes on this earth and I’m going to open them somewhere else. I want God to say, I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in.”