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Vietnam Veteran fulfills promise to church that prayed for him

For the congregation at Sarah Jane Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church, the service began...
For the congregation at Sarah Jane Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church, the service began like any other. Rev. Pastor Carolyn Stow led her procession down the aisle, while those in attendance took their seats.(WBNG 12 News)
Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 11:15 AM EST
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JOHNSON CITY (WBNG) -- For the congregation at Sarah Jane Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church, the service began like any other. Rev. Pastor Carolyn Stow led her procession down the aisle, while those in attendance took their seats.

However, the sermon was not in its typical format. Pastor Stow took the time to sit down with a familiar face to the church: Gary Hinaman; A Vietnam veteran who grew up in the church, and during the Vietnam War, asked the congregation to pray for him.

Now, decades later, he returned to thank the church that got him through some of his darkest moments.

“And at that point I promise God that if you let me get up that hill and come back and those people who prayed for me and got home, and this church did that,” Hinamen said.

Hinaman said he learned many things at the church that helped him through his time in Vietnam.

“If you’re in, you only realize it’s a matter of time before you’re dead or killed or something bad happens to you and I remember every night I would pray the Lord’s prayer learned in this church,” Rev. Carolyn Stow said.

He shares memories and stories from his memoir titled: “The Ranger” he says he still struggles with the effects of war, including PTSD.

“Do you know the problem with combat is do you want up in a situation where you will spend the rest of your life wondering if I could’ve done something different,” Stow said.

For Stow, this conversation between the two was eye-opening.

“To me, it was a special honor because he was over in Vietnam before I was even born so he is now giving me a perspective on what those people went through that I never have before,” Stow said.

She says it’s important to recognize the history that exists within the church.

“By helping this congregation realize the strength in its history is encouraging because as a pastor I am always trying to teach how we are connected to the generations from before to the generations ahead by the power of the Holy Spirit and we know that the Holy Spirit is brought in through prayer,” Stow said.