Veterans deploy to Biola
Two military service members make leaps and bounds in academic life. | Jessica Goddard/THE CHIMES
From battlelines to books, veterans continue to fight everyday to make the world a better place.
One was called to Talbot School of Theology with his spouse, and continues to impact the world greatly. The Veterans of Biola held their first orientation this year and will also launch a club.
Talbot School of Theology student Fernando Lopez served in the military and still has the desire to give back. He has experienced hardships and triumphs, yet he did not expect the impact Biola would have on his life.
Lopez served in the United States Navy for five years with three combat and one non-combat deployments in both the Pacific Rim and the Persian Gulf.
In the Navy, Fernando worked three years as a damage controlman, or a shipboard fire fighter. Then he worked two years with the military police for the Navy called Master at Arms. After the Navy, Fernando went to Whittier College and received his bachelor’s degree in religious studies.
“I joined the Navy when I turned 18. After I got married when I was 20, I was really looking forward to going to back to school,” Fernando said. “ My wife and I were looking at going to school together over at Cal State Long Beach. After some prayer, God put it on our hearts to go check out Biola. Then we saw that the Holy Spirit was here, and the Holy Spirit was working in us, and slowly but surely, God’s been calling us to go into ministry.”
As Fernando mentioned, his wife Alexis also attends Talbot with him as she pursues her master’s degree in Biblical and Theological Studies. Fernando and Alexis married in 2009 and have gone through military and studious life together. They were highschool sweethearts and got married when they were 20 and 18 years old, respectively. Alexis admits that getting married at a young age to a man in the military brought significant challenges.
“Getting married at any age is difficult, getting married at a young age is generally more difficult. I think that getting married at a young age with the military, where the divorce rate is over 90% in the first two years is even more difficult,” Alexis said. “It felt a lot of times like I was just a single wife. You know, my husband was gone most of the time.”
Communication between Fernando and Alexis remained very limited in the five years he was in the service. During those five years, they only saw each other about a year in a half in total. They communicated mainly through email, and talked on the phone every once in awhile. Even through all the difficulty, God brought the Lopez family to Biola.
“It’s surreal. After all the difficulty, God has called us here,” Alexis said. “It’s really neat to be here with my husband. God’s done a lot in our marriage. We’re completely different than we were five years ago.”
God has called veterans to the Biola campus, and they are taking advantage of the opportunity by launching the Biola Veterans for Christ club. While new things have started for veterans, they have and will remain a vital part to the Biola community.