Missionary in Egypt: Jesus continues in Egypt among refugee children
This Comboni missionary has a life dedicated to others. Expedita Pérez has spent eight years in Sudan, seven in Egypt and is now preparing for her new destination.
She knew Sudan when South Sudan had not yet begun. In the African country, she worked with the poorest of the poor and witnessed many injustices.
“South Sudanese and Christians were citizens of third or fourth category. At that time there was very visible persecution. Every December at Christmas parties, the government sent the tanks to sweep the chapels, where Christians celebrated and took them to the desert where there was no water or anything.”
Institutional violence caused many of these people to emigrate, seeking peace outside their own country. Sudanese and Eritreans arrived in Egypt by the thousands, which was the second place Expedita worked. The missionary helped these refugees while focusing, above all, on the little ones.
“Jesus is still in Egypt because He is the Incarnation. Where there is someone hungry, someone thirsty, someone in need, He is there. Who more than these children, who often arrive without their families, need our help, our solidarity and our fraternity? Jesus is present in them.
In Egypt, Expedita also witnessed violence and discrimination against Christians. One of the last attacks she saw was this one, against the church of St. Mark in Alexandria. She says that Egyptian Christians are not afraid of martyrdom.
“The Christian people who worked with us were almost crying when they told us,“Sister, I should have been there. Why wasn't I? I should have gone, but having to come to work here, I didn't go. If I had gone today I would be a martyr for my faith.”
According to her experience, Expedita explains daily coexistence between people of different religions is normal. She asserts extremists make too much noise, especially when they are in governments. Sudan and Egypt are two examples of countries where Christians practice their faith with a certain unease.
“I am surprised there are no people looking toward the door in Rome. This is our experience in Sudan and Egypt. Although nobody stops going to religious celebrations out of fear, we all have an eye on the door.”
The next destination of the religious sister is Turkey. There she will again work with immigrants and refugees, victims of new wars that are multiplying humanity's wounds. Luckily, there are people like Expedita who dedicate their lives to healing them.
Translation: Melissa Butz