By Kevin Howell
You’re 20 years old. You’re newlyweds enjoying your new life together. You’re dreaming of starting a family, buying a home, and growing your business. Life seems normal and promising. The first sign of those dreams start to emerge. You are pregnant…. but with triplets.
Complications begin. One triplet’s heart stops and he’s lost. You go into premature labor weeks later — just 22 weeks into the pregnancy. Doctors don’t expect the remaining two children to make it. Complications such as blindness and missing limbs are predicted if you go through with the birth. There’s no guarantee you’ll survive the birth. They recommend abortion.
You’re only 20 years old. This wasn’t what you signed up for. This isn’t happily ever after.
Those were the circumstances Jesús and Maglys Hernandez faced early in their life together. Blindsided with tough decisions and challenging circumstances just a year into their marriage. It was the first test they faced together. Just the first. Many, many more would come. Nineteen years later, they tell their story with peace, confidence, surety, and the perspective of a couple that has lived by faith, walked through fire and emerged, not just stronger, but more compassionate.
FIGHTING FOR LIFE
“It was like a blur. It was like a bad dream. I was only 20. There were a lot of shattered dreams there. You’re preparing for something, and all of a sudden in a blink of an eye everything changes.” – Maglys Hernandez
Maglys recalls the fear, confusion, and chaos of that day. A doctor telling her there was nothing she could do and the best choice would be to terminate the pregnancy.
“You’re so vulnerable at that moment,” she said. “I’m thinking, ‘Do I really want to put my child through this? Am I wrong if I decide yes or no?’ Then you have to shake yourself and say, ‘Wait a minute, who is she to determine the outcome of my children?’ I had to believe that whatever God took me to, He’s going to bring me through.”
They went through with the birth. Their daughter, Jeselys, was born 1 pound, 4 ounces, and 5 inches long. Just 24 hours later, she weighed less than a pound — the size of a fetus. At that time, only 1 out 7 babies that weight survived. Maglys’ cervix was stitched to allow the other child to remain in her womb. But five days later, their son was born: 1 pound, 5 ounces. He didn’t fare as well as their daughter and he died five days after being born.
“I knew my daughter was going to be the one to survive,” Jesús said. “So when he passed, I just said ‘God allowed it.’ I just looked at it that way. So then, I just wanted my daughter to have a normal life. That was what my focus was on.”
TURNING PAIN INTO PURPOSE
Five months. That’s how long their daughter remained in the hospital after she was prematurely born. And every single day, Jesús and Maglys would visit her. They watched as she was given multiple blood transfusions daily, flat-lined on several occasions, and underwent surgeries. Finally, after five months, they brought home a 4-pound, 13-ounce girl.
“I tell people all the time, I don’t know how we did it,” Maglys explained. “It was literally by the grace of God. I don’t consider myself strong enough. It was all by God’s grace.”
Even after leaving the hospital, Jeselys endured many challenges, including a Level 4 brain bleed, eye surgeries, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.
“On the spiritual side of it, when your life is attacked at such a young stage of the game, it’s because there’s a huge purpose,” Jesús said. “Our daughter is very spiritually connected. If I want to know something about a spiritual situation, I’ll go to my daughter to see if she agrees. She’s very connected to God. We’ve seen that her whole life.”
An example of that was when Jeselys was younger, there was a lunch aide at her school going through difficulty in her marriage. The woman found out her husband had been cheating on her and she decided to commit suicide. The day she planned to take her life, she met Jeselys while working the cash register in the lunch line. After paying for her food, she decided to give the woman a tip. The woman refused, but Jeselys grabbed her hand saying, “Please take it because you served me.” As soon as she touched her hand, the woman said a feeling came over her body and she couldn’t stop crying. She didn’t commit suicide, and to this day, she regularly sends gifts and cards to Jeselys. “She adores my daughter,” Maglys said. “She always tells me ‘Thank you for giving birth to this child. You’ll never know what your daughter means to me.’”
Now at 17, Jeselys continues inspire others with her progress and faith.
“She’s amazing. She’s come so far,” Maglys said. “My daughter has disabilities but she doesn’t focus on them. You can’t even tell her that. Sometimes I’ll tell her we need to get her therapy for her arm and she’ll say, ‘There’s nothing wrong with me; I’m healed.’ I have to catch myself because I can’t tarnish her faith.”
NEW CHILD, NEW CHALLENGE
Four years after Jeselys was born, Maglys was pregnant with a son. Though his birth went much smoother than their first pregnancy, they would face a unique challenge in their son’s development.
As a toddler, they noticed he had a speech delay, wouldn’t make eye contact, and was very quiet. When he was 2½, they decided to have him examined by a neurologist. He was diagnosed with autism.
“Honestly, my son’s diagnosis was harder than losing my first son,” Maglys said. “It turned my world upside down.”
Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the U.S. It is a brain development disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and repetitive behavior. One in 88 children is diagnosed with it.
The journey has been tough for the Hernandezes, but it hasn’t hindered their faith.
“As a faith-filled family, we believe no matter what label they give him, God still could intervene,” Jesús says. “There are no ifs, ands or buts that somewhere down his life, there’s going to be a testimony from this. Because if I believe God for salvation, I have to believe God for healing. Why’s it taking so long? Yeah, that’s a question in our mind, but I don’t question God. Because I believe, in His time, we will see something happen supernaturally.
“There has to be something in this that God’s going to get the glory for. I’m believing that what’s going to come out of this is that he’s going to be supernaturally healed. Not only that, but God’s going to do miracles in other people’s lives. I can’t settle for less. I can’t believe that God’s not able to intervene. I trust His Word.”
God has already been using their experiences to help others. Jesús was hired as the children’s pastor at Faith Fellowship Ministries in New Jersey, and last October, they started a class for special needs children during church. Before, parents of special needs children didn’t have a place to bring their kids for a Sunday service. Now, they have a haven where their children are worshipping God and improving behavior.
“There’s a huge need, this thing has grown and there’s no answers for it,” Jesús said about autism. “When there’s no answers, it’s because God has the answer, and people will flock to wherever the answer is. I believe this is why God’s allowed all of this to happen. For you to be able to touch someone you have to have compassion. You have to go through it or understand it.”
To understand Jesús and Maglys’ trust in God, you have to understand their background. Maglys’ family was “the epitome of dysfunctional.” Her father was an alcoholic and drug addict, and she had a distant relationship with her mother. The family unity she lacked growing up, God gave her with Jesús. “If I would have never gone through those things, I wouldn’t love God the way I love Him now,” Maglys said.
Jesús’ faith emanated from his father, who was diagnosed with cancer and given just 30 days to live. The day he was diagnosed, his father went to a Bible study and told God, “If you’re real, give me 20 more years to live to enjoy my family.” Later he was re-examined and they found no cancer in him. He lived exactly 20 more years, serving God. “I’m a Christian because what God did in my father’s life,” Jesús said.
Before they faced the trials in their children’s lives, they had seen miracles. A foundation of faith was already built. They drew on the grace and strength of God to endure. There’s plenty more to their story — including financial struggles and setbacks in which they lost homes, cars, and went through bankruptcy — but as Jesús says, it’s still unfolding. They’ve witnessed God work miracles in their lives. And they are expecting more.
“In everybody’s story, there’s conflict,” Jesús said. “There’s a moment when something’s going to happen. You can’t live this life and expect that nothing’s going to happen. There’s always going to be conflict somewhere down the line. It could be early on, in the middle or at the end, but you’re going to have conflict. That way you can understand who Jesus Christ is. I believe our story’s not finished. This is just the beginning.”
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