The following is an excerpt from Wess Stafford’s “Just a Minute: In the Heart of a Child, One Moment…Can Last Forever.”

My sportscaster friend Jerry Schemmel, now the well-known “Voice of the Colorado Rockies,” survived the 1989 crash of United Flight 232 at Sioux City, Iowa. Miraculously he emerged safe in a cornfield, relieved and standing clear of the burning wreckage…when he heard a baby’s screams still inside that smoke-filled fuselage. He dashed back into the carnage, followed the cries through the billowing smoke, and rescued a little eleven-month-old girl named Sabrina Michaelson. His story is told in his powerful book Chosen to Live.

As Jerry sat in my office reliving that story for me, I wanted to jump up and say, “Me too! That’s what I would have done!”

But would I?  Would you?

Nothing grips our hearts more on the evening news, putting a lump in our throats, than watching a firefighter rescue a shivering child from an icy lake – or a bloodied soldier hoisting his wounded friend onto his shoulder and carrying him to safety amid a hail of bullets and explosions. Such acts of selfless heroism cannot be rehearsed or anticipated. That amazing spirit either resides deep within us, or it doesn’t. The drama seizes us in an unexpected moment, and we act – or we don’t – in just a minute.

There are no second chances, no coulda-woulda-shoulda options. In the instant, heroes seldom know the full significance of what they are doing. In fact, they may never know. Is this child’s life a fair exchange for my own? If I die in the process of rescuing her, will she live to achieve more than I might have? There is no time for such thoughts.

When, in retrospect, we learn years later what that child grew up to be, we say, “Wow, thank goodness!” But when we don’t know, we should also say, “Wow, thank goodness!” A life is precious for what it is, not just for what it does. The truth is that every child is valuable. They are lovingly knit by their Creator in their mother’s womb, one at a time. They are born one at a time. They live and die one at a time. And they can be rescued one at a time, usually by selfless heroes…notice, usually not by politicians, millionaires, or celebrities, but by ordinary people with extraordinary hearts.

(“Just a Minute: In the Heart of a Child, One Moment…Can Last Forever,” by Wess Stafford. Pages 21-22)