Abner Pina

The Journey Continues -- Abner Pina 


     I am one of the 22 million living veterans in the United States today. I remember so very well leaving home and entering the service; it was a pivotal point in my life. Recently Abner Pina, a 19-year-old young man I knew from pastoring at Redwood Baptist Church, informed me that he had enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was scheduled to depart for Fort Benning, GA, for Infantry Basic Training on August 26th.  As he shared with me, I knew from my military experience what this meant: He had graduated from high school, passed the background check, a drug-substance test, a rigid physical fitness test, and an Army entrance battery test! When he shared that he had chosen the Infantry Branch, I reached to my lapel to show him my miniature CIB—Combat Infantryman Badge---and we became brothers. Abner said he always wanted to be a soldier and grew up watching History Channel films on WWII, Korea’s Chosin Reservoir, and Vietnam. He wants to make a career of the Army.

     I felt so very proud of Abner, but subtle thoughts came to my mind—Home in San Marcos will never be the same again; Is he prepared spiritually for the challenge? Will he ride his first airplane going to Ft Benning? As the oldest son of seven siblings, how is his family going to function without him?

     I gave him a card with the Bible verses that helped me through my 21-year career in the United States Army:

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”;

Philippians 4:19 “My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” and

I Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”

     A new outreach organization, Veterans Patrol, plans on keeping in contact with Abner on his journey. Four veterans joined me on Monday night and offered Abner encouragement---

(1) Constantly set new goals and always seriously consider new opportunities. 

(2) Surround yourself with good friends.

(3) Confront anxiety directly. Pray and look to the Holy Spirit.

     I gave him several stamped, addressed envelopes with instructions to let his Mom share his mailing address with us as soon as he communicated with her. Mail call is still real important in the service.

     We all joined hands and said a prayer over him. SERVICE TO THE NATION!


Jim Lanning -- August 25, 2019, San Marcos Daily Record