The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 53
Service member says he rediscovered God after time in Navy
By , Staff Reporter
Published: November 14 2012
After dropping out of high school for the third time, Jeremiah Hinton didn’t know where his life was headed.
“I didn’t really have a plan, and I used up my finances to get whatever I needed to have a good time with my friends,” Hinton said.
As a result, Hinton found himself working as a manager at a Baskin Robbins in California.
After Hinton decided he couldn’t afford to attend college, or even get a GED, he quit his job and enlisted in the Navy.
“I joined the Navy for a couple of reasons,” Hinton said. “My grandfather was in the Navy, and my father was a merchant marine.”
“And I have always been compelled to the vastness to the ocean and its witness to God’s greatness,” he said.
Hinton served in the Navy as a gunner’s mate on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln from 2003 to 2008 before receiving an honorable discharge.
Hinton used his GI Bill to attend Seattle Pacific University for his undergraduate degrees in sociology and theology, which he completed earlier this this year. He is now enrolled in SPU’s graduate seminary program, where he is working towards his Master of Divinity.
Hinton entered bootcamp in 2008 and nearly worked himself to the point of exhaustion.
“I thought I was supposed to do every pushup, run, pullup, etc.,” Hinton said, “I worked way too hard early on.”
During bootcamp, Hinton ended up contracting pneumonia, bronchitis and then a second round of pneumonia.
“We slept with the windows open while it snowed on us as a means to toughen us up,” he said.
Hinton never missed any of the daily exercises or runs, despite his chronic sickness.
“I got sick to the point where I would black out during runs and fall down at the end,” he said. “But I didn’t want to quit.”
Hinton completed the last training event, Battle Stations, while he was still sick.
During Battle Stations, participants stay up for three days straight for a drill involving high-stress situations.
Hinton said that if he didn’t participate in the drill due to illness, he would have been held back from graduating.
After Hinton completed the drill, he was commanded to report to medical. Hinton was told he had pneumonia in 90 percent of his lungs and was medically unfit to do anything.
Hinton graduated on time, but his health took a hard hit as a result of boot camp.
“I was down to 140lbs when I finished boot camp from a healthy weight of 220lbs,” he said.
When Hinton enlisted, he scored high enough on his aptitude test to qualify for the various nuclear programs that the Navy offered, but he chose to be a gunner’s mate.
Gunner’s mates have several responsibilities in the Navy.
On the aircraft carrier that Hinton was on, gunner’s mates worked almost exclusively in armory. As Hinton advanced in rank, he was given authority over those with a lower rank.
While on the ship, Hinton said he felt himself spending less time with God. He said he spent more time drinking and shooting than he did reading his Bible.
“There were a solid four years I didn’t go to church,” Hinton said.
But Hinton said he found himself defending God to others.
“I was constantly defending the truth of the Gospel in the face of my superiors who derided it,” he said. “I spoke out against visiting prostitutes, even though I was unfaithful to God and the church.”
Hinton said he slowly made his way back to God after leaving the Navy. Hinton said that he felt God was preparing his life all along for his inevitable return to him.
Upon his return to Seattle, Hinton found a home at Mars Hill Church, where he leads small groups as a deacon. Hinton feels the Navy equipped him with the skills to lead small groups as well as grow him into the Christian he is today.
Hinton said that although he was away from God during part of his enlistment, God still continued to grow him into the person he is today.
Hinton said he didn’t start truly living as a Christian until he attended Mars Hill.
“God grew me during my time in the Navy so that I have gone from refusing to attend services, to serving as a deacon and coaching small group leaders,” he said.
Hinton isn’t sure what is in his future beyond completing seminary, but he said he will follow God’s call wherever it takes him.
“If God calls me to be an overqualified janitor,” Hinton said, “I know how to push a mop. If I’m called to lead a congregation, I’ll try not to make them do too many pushups if they get out of line,” Hinton said.
Hinton said lessons he learned in the Navy have been invaluable in his academics.
“Do I want to read 200 pages every day? No, not always, but thanks to the lessons I learned cleaning 200 guns, the books don’t seem that bad,” he said.
Although Hinton is proud of how far he has come, he takes no credit for the work he says God has done.
“As much as I can see how the Navy has been a turning point in my life, all the glory goes to God for making that happen,” he said.
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