Thursday, May 23, 2019
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Six guns were pointed at him, close range. Others had died before him. Without a doubt he knew he would be next. Terror swept through his body as he waited. Praying was the only thing this man of God could do and he was praying with vengeance. Reverend Feliberto Pereira had done nothing but serve the God he loved, but here in Cuba, in the communist regime in 1966, that was a crime.

During those first years in concentration camps his faith had never wavered. Even now, as he stood there awaiting the word from the Captain for his men to fire, he was doing what was most natural in times of need–he was praying. And…God gave Feliberto his answer. Though he had preached of the Miracles that had happened to that Man over 2000 years ago, Feliberto still had his doubts. But then, his miracle happened and everything changed.

20150319 Feliberto-with-RiceTerror made a quiet exit as peace and calm enveloped him. Standing nine feet tall, he watched the happenings going on as if in a daze.

“Run!” the lieutenant of the cruelty fleet said. “You have 60 seconds and then we will shoot!”

Flying on bone weary feet, Feliberto fled across the field.

“As I ran, I knew I wasn’t running alone.” His Big Boss had sent him a protector and Feliberto ran with a new and grateful understanding of the God he served.

“Not until I suffered the same situation did I understand His miracles were true,” Feliberto’s eyes glistened.

Born in the country, Feliberto grew up as a cowboy, riding horses, working in the fields with his family helping them bring in their rice, beans, bananas, sugar and meat in their self-sustaining farm. With no school available, his parents still believed in the power of education, though they had to struggle to obtain their own credentials.

“My father, orphaned when he was 11, took care of his 9 siblings, keeping the family together. He taught himself to read and write and though he only had an education to the eighth grade, after we moved to the city he finished his education and became a junior high school teacher.” Feliberto’s pride in his father shone through his words and glowing face.

Missionaries had come to the countryside where Feliberto and his family lived. By the age of 9, Feliberto gave himself to the Lord. At 12 he felt an urgent calling to go to seminary. With an eighth grade education, plus years of reading everything, he applied to seminary at 17. Forced to upgrade his schooling, he made it to 12th grade in seven months and entered the halls of his future.

For five years, he followed his life’s goal, pastoring to his fellow man. In 1961, Fidel Castro brought his communist regime to Cuba’s government. Feliberto was warned to stay within his church walls.

“Since I was a child, my father taught us that communists were the worst; being a communist was like being a slave.” In 1962, the communists came to him again, warning him.

“Christians are puppets of the Yankees teaching people that God exists. God does not exist!” They were set in the doctrine of their party and were convinced Feliberto could be changed.

Taking two weeks to instruct him in the goodness of the communist party, a philosopher of the party was assigned to him. Teaching him socialism, communism, forcing him to daily lectures and reading the likes of Karl Marx, the brainwashing went on day after day.

Finally, offered the position of the director of the school where he taught, there were only a few conditions. 1) He had to join the communist party. 2) He had to state God did not exist.

How he had the courage to take his next step, only God knows.

“I am not in fear of you or 50 Fidel Castros that would come right now. My faith is strong. I will not sign your papers. I don’t want to be the director of the school. I don’t need it.”

Those words sealed his fate that Thursday morning. By Monday morning he was firmly ensconced in a concentration camp, working the sugar cane fields.

Two years later he found himself running for his life.

“If there were shots, I didn’t hear them, but I knew I was not alone even though I saw nothing.”

Found at his home, he was thrown into another camp. But now, in this camp where dishing out unimaginable cruelty to their fellow humans was the goal of the guards, he found he was angry at God.

“Why me?” the thought blazed through his head.

The answer? Juan Valdez Moreno, a young man Feliberto saved from killing himself with his machete. There, in the middle of a sugar cane field, far from the soldiers on the parameters, he talked to Juan about God and how the Lord would handle the situation.

“We prayed and he was converted. Today, he is alive and well in New York. Safe.”

For four years, Feliberto suffered intensely in these camps, but through an amazing “save” involving the CIA and the United States, he found himself and his family in Miami in 1969. A church took him under their wings, enveloping him just as that peace had a few years earlier.

“Where would you like to go?”

“Where they speak Spanish and where it is hot!” laughed an overjoyed Feliberto.

To the Valley he came, pastoring in San Benito for 14 years before he went to his church in Los Fresnos. Here in the Valley he found others like him, running from fear of death, torture, family retribution.

Salvadoreans, Nicaraguans, from 1979 on they came, thousands. Helping them brought Feliberto to a new phase in his life.

“This is what I really want to do, help persons like me to escape prison, torture, with nothing or nobody to help them.”

Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries became official in 1985 after years of involvement. Today, the SWGSM has their own center with dormitories, kitchen, offices, fellowship halls, family areas and above all, a sense of safety.

Feliberto is living his life as he was taught so many years ago in the countryside of Cuba-loving God, being a Good Samaritan to thousands, feeding the poor, giving lives back as his life was given back to him 45 years ago.

(For the rest of his story, read Feliberto Pereira’s inspiring autobiography, “I Was A Stranger, Hope for a Hidden World.”)

Mission Statement

The Mission of Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries is to teach the love of Jesus Christ by building a renewed sense of wholeness and dignity and by standing with those who are broken, especially among refugees and those who are disenfranchised and displaced.

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