When the gang-banger was on trial for nearly killing her brother, Cynthia Santiago wrote a letter to the court asking for leniency.
“We are Christians. We believe in forgiveness,” said Santiago, 31, now an immigration lawyer based in El Segundo. “We prayed for him (the shooter). We prayed God transform his life. I’m not the person to pass that kind of judgment on another human being.”
Santiago said her brother got involved in a race-based altercation at 20th St. and Delaware in Santa Monica in the early 2000s, and he was shot with a 22-caliber gun from close range. One bullet shattered his jaw and another pierced his heart and lung, she said.
He was rushed to St. John’s where he lay unconscious for nearly three weeks. When he woke up, he asked about his kids. After months of physical therapy, he returned to normal life.
Santiago’s extraordinary plea for clemency is part of the troubled past of a Santa Monica once beset by gang violence. Part of the reason she chose law is because she saw her own parents, as working class residents, struggle to get sound legal advice for her troubled brother. Read the rest of the article.
Editor’s Note: Cynthia Santiago was the flower girl in my wedding 25 years ago. My wife and I lost track of her when we spent 16 years in Guatemala as missionaries. When I found her on Facebook 24 years later, I’m surprised to see her all grown up and a lawyer! I praise God she, coming from a family without college students, had the wherewithal to study and achieve a dream. It seems to me that her choice to forgive is extreme and compelling. Her choice to help the neediest who need help only makes me admire her more.
Posted in Christianity, faith, forgiveness
Tagged attorney, Christian school, college, compassion, defense, education, El Segundo, God, immigration, Jesus, Latin, lawyer, Los Angeles, love, mercy, overcoming obstacles, Santa Monica
One girl sputtered out of the church. Her pastor/uncle treated her gruffly when she got pregnant out of wedlock. Twenty years later, she’s still out of the church.
Another girl, in her down and out moment, got friendship, love, acceptance, encouragement. Today she’s serving in the church, a huge blessing.
It’s good to uphold a high standard for the church. But we must never lose sight of mercy. Sometimes striking a balance is tough. If we err, let’s err on the side of mercy. That’s what God does.
Kata, left, with her sister-in-law, Karina.
Kata was the spiritual pillar of her household. The eldest of eight siblings, she came to Christ first. She prayed for each one to come to Christ. She counseled tirelessly. And then after encouraging so many others, she grew discouraged herself.
She was getting older and felt like she was losing her chances to get married. Lonely and dejected, she made a mistake.
Pregnant out of wedlock, she was basically shunned by her church and run off (not my church).
This all broke my heart. We all make mistakes. So I visited Kata. Her reception was wary. I spoke of her leadership in her family, of her past successes. I made no mention of her mistakes.
Today, Kata is back at serving Jesus. Compassion, not condemnation, is what she needed. All I had to do was take some time out of my schedule to show her she was important to Jesus. She was valuable.
Today, it’s Kata who keeps our church and school cleaner than the National Palace. Everyone praises her. I am overjoyed.
To whom can you show mercy today?
Animation thanks to On r’fait le film
I was completely unprepared for my 9th grade class to so roundly criticize Willy Loman from Arthur Miller‘s Death of a Salesman. He’s meant to represent the average American male in futile pursuit of the hoax called the American Dream.
The students admitted no merit to the man. He was unfaithful, a failed businessman, a liar, prideful, insane, a sufferer of delusions of grandeur. He deserved no sympathy in his stupid and tragic end. Never mind that he was hard-working, sacrificial, concerned about his family, the class ganged up on me when I spoke of his redeeming qualities!
When I was a pastor, I was neither as good nor as bad as people said. Some praised me excessively; others criticized me too much. The truth was and is that I am a mixture of both good and bad, saint and sinner, hypocrite and sincere, neither black nor white — just gray — like the rest of humanity.
The saddest thing is NOT perfectionism, puritanism, or Phariseeism. The depressing thing is that hyper-critics eventually wind up in their own crosshairs. Eventually you stub your own toe, and then Satan echoes back to you every harsh word you uttered over others’ failures. When this happens, you fall away from Christ: since there was no grace for others, there’s no grace for you.
Wisely, Jesus said: Judge not lest you be judged. If you have mercy on others, you’ll get mercy yourself. Prayer is NOT for exulting your superiority; it is a time of empathy and compassion for others.
Posted in prayer
Tagged Arthur Miller, Bible, Christianity, church, Death of a Salesman, drama, Faith, God, inspiration, Jesus, judging others, love, mercy, ministry, no condemnation, pastors, plays, relationships, theater, Willy Loman
When I was kid, I felt sorry for myself intensely. When bigger kids pushed me around and my mom wouldn’t go out and make it right, I gloated on my woes. Self-pity has been an evil that has plagued me even up to the present.
from Kathy Long
The good thing is that she has a twin called Compassion. As with many “evils,” you can flip them and make them good. When I took aptitude tests in high school, I scored low or average on everything — but they didn’t even measure the deep well of gifting God had given me. Compassion and empathy have driven years of successful ministry. Feeling others’ pain keeps me in prayer.
Self-aggrandizement is a wicked
from Three Chad Presents Stunning Photos
motivation to get in ministry. The only true calling is serving others. Consider the contrast: Jesus reflects on the hungry multitudes, “I have compassion on them.” The disciples reflect harsh realities, “And where are we gonna get the money to feed them???” (Matt 15 32 – 39).
Are there others in your world or just yourself? Pic from Unbelievable Pictures
Are you more like Christ or his disciples? The case is all the worse if you realize the disciples HAD the money to buy enough food (Luke 8:3) — they just were selfish! Compassionlessness is ugly.
So if you suffer from self-pity, don’t despair. Just turn your eyes outward, and you’ll become a marvelously effective servant of God/ of humanity!
Posted in Christianity
Tagged church, compassion, depression, God, hope, hopeless, hopelessness, inspiration, Jesus, life, lifestyle, mercy, ministry, pastors, self esteem, self-hate, self-pity, suicide