And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. —Acts 2:4

The season of Easter concludes this Sunday with the feast of Pentecost, when we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus’ disciples. This event would herald a new action in God’s plan of salvation for all of mankind, marking the beginning of the Church.

Every child that is born is a new beginning, bringing with it the hope for a brighter future. That hope hangs in the balance in the poverty-stricken communities we serve. International volunteer Sarah Rubino knows this all too well. She shared with us how one morning when she walked into the maternity ward at St. Therese Hospital in Nzara, South Sudan, she was rushed over to see a baby who had been born prematurely the night before. A mother had delivered twins, and while the baby girl was doing well, the boy was terribly pale and had trouble breathing. He was minutes from death.

black and white image of a premature baby delivered at St. Therese hospital in South Sudan

Sarah immediately grabbed an Ambu bag and placed the mask over his mouth, using pressure to ventilate his lungs. For the baby to survive, they needed to send the family to Yambio State Hospital—where an incubator and oxygen was available—as soon as possible. Luckily an ambulance arrived just in time, and even though it had no oxygen machine, it would get the family over treacherous dirt roads to the hospital. Throughout the hour-long trip of huge puddles and potholes, Sarah held the newborn in her lap. She continued pumping breaths into him, but was slowly losing all hope.

“All I kept thinking was, ‘this little baby boy is going to die in my arms in the middle of the thick bush of South Sudan.’ Then his dark newborn eyes peered over the breathing mask and fixed on my face. It was such a simple thing, but that look instantly snapped me out of the cold place I had slipped into. No matter the situation, the fear I felt, or the possibility of his imminent death, he was alive at that moment, and I had that moment to cherish his short life.” —Sarah Rubino

They arrived at Yambio State Hospital and finally the baby boy was able to be hooked up to an oxygen machine. Sarah laid his sister next to him to keep him warm and then struggled to say goodbye. She knew his his life was in the balance, but he had a better chance at surviving now that he had the proper resources.

A month later, after finishing her rounds in the pediatric ward, Sarah was told that a family had come to see her. The father then walked in holding a tiny baby girl in his arms, followed by his wife holding another tiny baby. Sarah was speechless as she realized these were the twins from a month before! The parents laughed with joy as she shouted in happiness, “Your baby boy survived!” Many premature babies in South Sudan do not have this happy ending, but this story is one of hope and new beginnings for the twins.

Twin, a baby girl and a baby boy sleeping beside one another

“Though your beginning was small, your future will flourish indeed.” —Job 8:7

Over 100 years ago, CMMB founder Paluel Flagg lost his infant daughter due to breathing complications, a tragedy that led him to embark on mission trips—the early beginnings of our organization. Since then we have been committed to giving vulnerable women, children and their communities increased access to much-needed primary healthcare services, and a chance at new beginnings.

May the Spirit of Pentecost dwell in us every day, so that every day can be a new beginning, and a new opportunity to bring the presence of God into our lives.

In grace and peace,

CMMB/Healthier Lives Worldwide

*Today’s reflection was inspired by Loyola Press.