Eusebio Perez currently leads Canada’s first Hispanic congregation located in Toronto. He served 11 years in Cuba as a pastor, and 40 years in Canada. He was the Spanish National Work Coordinator for Cultural Ministries (1982-2000) and facilitated the establishment of Spanish congregations across Canada.
In my youth, a revolution to reset justice for the poor in my beloved Cuba delivered a great injustice to my family. False witness brought against my father led to an undeserved jail sentence for 15 years. We were robbed of my father and of everything we had owned for generations. That event ignited a rage and a thirst for revenge in me that set me on a destructive path. I wanted to be the judge, jury, and executor of the sentence I thought the false accuser deserved.
While on this path, my life collided with the Gospel, the story of the cross where justice and mercy were brought together in a uniquely painful and beautiful way. The song “at the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light…” pierced my heart, opened my eyes, and set me walking on a new path of freedom and peace.
As the prophet says in Micah 6, rituals are not enough to satisfy Him. I learned that I could show mercy in the midst of injustice. I could forgive and let God be the judge. After having received such great mercy in Jesus, how could I not extend that same mercy to the one who falsely accused my father? That was the day I chose to walk in mercy and do away with revenge.
Otoniel Perez is a Global Worker and, together with his wife, Liz, the cofounder of NEXO International. He is passionate about connecting local Canadian congregations with the Hispanic church in mission to the unreached. He has an MDiv from McMaster University and has served Spanish and English congregations for more than 25 years.
“To change the world, Sancho, my friend, is not madness or utopia, but justice.” This conviction drives Cervante’s Man from La Mancha in his adventurous mission toward adopting a heroic life of justice.
Growing up in a Spanish congregation in Toronto and doing life with Hispanics in Canada widened my scope of understanding and clarified my view on injustice in our world. Arriving in Canada from Cuba at the age of thirteen, I knew all too well from experience the intimidation and oppression under communism. We heard new stories of Chilenos escaping Pinochet, the totalitarian military dictator; Colombians caught in the crossfire between paramilitaries, drug lords, and their government’s army; Venezuelans fleeing what they feared Chavez’s’ administration implied for their nation. Not to mention all the displaced people from Central American countries and undocumented Mexicans from the USA. Oppression resides in every realm of the political spectrum because injustice is lodged in the human heart.
These new Canadians, whether former refugees or landed immigrants, stir my gratitude and challenge me to continue to be committed to doing good everywhere. No matter how small or insignificant the action may seem, it can tell people, “you are not invisible, and you are not forgotten.”
Kaylee Perez is the Refugee Sponsorship and Settlement Associate at Mennonite Central Committee Ontario. Growing up in a Cuban-Colombian-Palestinian family in Canada fueled her passion for peace work both locally and abroad. She has an MA in Peace and Conflict Studies and has worked extensively in refugee settlement support.
A wise woman once said, “There is a world of difference between a problem and a person with a face and a name. You see things differently and you solve things differently. You believe differently” (Mary Jo Leddy).
I wake up in the morning and hear news stories rooted in fear of the other; blanket statements that vilify whole groups of people who are turned into pawns, used by the powerful for political gain. I then go to work and interact daily with survivors of the greatest injustices one could imagine. Individuals who are talked about by many, yet known by very few.
When justice has a name, it transforms the way you live and makes loving mercy possible.
To love mercy is to recognize the brokenness inside all of us, the complexity of this world, and that, if not for Jesus, we would all be lost. To do justice is to seek to understand God’s justice and not our own, to be in relationship with those who experience injustice, and to work together for peace.
“When justice has a name, it transforms the way you live and makes loving mercy possible.”