By LORETTA FULTON
Four McMurry University students wrapped up Better Together Week Friday, April 13, by sharing their beliefs through a program called Interfaith Story Telling.
Events during the week included an international game night, diaper drive to benefit refugees resettled in Abilene through the International Rescue Committee, and an interfaith prayer and meditation session.
Sharing their beliefs were Christina Martinez, Christian mysticism; Kaitlyn Thompson, United Methodist; Yuwei Bao, non-religious with beliefs; and Ian Limones, Brujeria.
Martinez, a junior political science major from El Paso, went “church shopping” when she got to Abilene and was disappointed.
“I didn’t feel like they were welcoming,” she said.
So, she left the church but not Christianity. She was introduced to mysticism, which emphasizes awareness, mindfulness and being in communion with God. Martinez’ boyfriend is Muslim and she liked a lot of his beliefs, especially the emphasis on letting go of the ego.
Martinez has learned about other religions and their belief systems. Her own Christian faith has grown from that.
“Jesus is extremely important to me,” she said.
Thompson is a junior sociology major and a member of the United Methodist Church. She grew up Baptist and was baptized at age 12. She heard people say that people who weren’t baptized would go to hell. So, she was relieved once she was baptized.
“I thought everything was OK after that,” she said.
When Thompson arrived at McMurry and took at New Testament class, she made a new connection with faith. She joined the United Methodist Church, which her parents were OK with. She felt the presence of Jesus in her life that she hadn’t felt before.
“It’s been a real journey,” she said.
Bao, a math and computer science major, is from China. She describes herself as “a non-religious person with beliefs.”
Bao said there was only one church near where she lived in China and that she doesn’t know much about Christianity.
“Christianity was a word,” she said, before arriving at McMurry in 2016.
But she is attending church in Abilene with a friend and has a Bible that is printed in both English and Chinese.
Bao carries a pencil box with the image of a Chinese Buddha on one side and a Christian cross on the other. She feels free at McMurry to discuss her faith.
“I feel comfortable,” Bao said.
The most unusual presentation came from Ian Limones, who was taught Brujeria practices by his grandmother when he was growing up. He described Brujeria as a pre-Columbian witch craft, with good witches and bad witches. The word itself means “witches” in Spanish.
Candles are important to the practice, and Limones is partial to a candle devoted to Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is important to Catholics in Hispanic and Mexican cultures.
“As a practicing Brujo,” Limones said, “I take a lot of pride in Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
Limones recalled a day when he was feeling especially low. He lit the Our Lady candle, which proved to be pivotal to his spiritual life.
“Instantly, I felt like I was floating, ” he said.
Brujeria may sound mysterious and exotic, Limones said, but the ceremonial candles can be purchased at Walmart, United Supermarket, H.E.B, or any dollar store. Brujeria is not a religion, Limones said, but a practice.
“Brujeria is about acknowledging the power with you,” he said, “and putting that out into the world through symbolism.”