December 12, 2013
A life we can’t imagine
Life in some Mexican communities can be harsher than anything you could imagine in the United States. 35-year old Carlos Gutierrez knows it all too well. Two years ago Carlos owned a food and beverage company in Chihuahua City. But gangs in the city force businessmen to pay them or face the consequences. When Carlos could no longer pay the thousands of dollars in extortion money, the criminals tortured him and cut off the lower part of his legs. He had no plans to leave his country but he could no longer survive the violence he faced daily.
Carlos somehow survived the attack and was able to flee to El Paso. He lived there with his mutilation and sought asylum. He became part of a growing number of Mexicans who have run from the violence to seek asylum in the United States. Most are denied. But God can stir the hearts of others to help a person in need.
It was right around Thanksgiving in 2011 when Eddie Zepeda was at an outlet mall with his wife and children. He spotted the legless Carlos in a wheelchair and his heart was moved. Eddie is certified to fit and design artificial limbs. There is no such thing as coincidence…this chance meeting had the fingerprints of God written all over it. Eddie helped Carlos get a set of artificial legs and then he helped design a lighter pair of legs that Carlos will use on a 701-mile bike trip from El Paso to Austin to draw attention to the plight of crime victims who have been forced to flee their country.
Carlos calls Eddie his angel and the two have become close friends. Carlos said “It doesn’t matter how you fall…its how you get back up again.” And it was the hand of a total stranger reaching out to a person in need that allowed Carlos to stand again. Carlos hopes his story of survival inspires others to not live with blinders on but to make a difference in the lives of others.