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Rev Hicks

Rev. B.R. Hicks ( we affectionately refer to her as Sister Hicks) is probably the oldest surviving, old-fashioned Pentecostal preacher alive today.
  I met her first in 1972 at special meetings where she preached at a Christ Gospel Church in Cape Town, South Africa. Both in South Africa and in the United States, I have studied under numerous professors and other academics, and worked with brilliant professionals in the secular world. But Sister Hicks is perhaps the only true genius I have ever met. I do not say that lightly. She is decidedly old school, yet unconventional and different in many respects (as geniuses are allowed to be). But she has consistently for the 40 plus years I have known her, displayed an ever fresh originality and a unique insight into the things of God that have never ceased to amaze me.
As a student at university many years ago, I was beset with doubt about the existence of God, the claims of my philosophy professor about moral relativism, the claims of atheistic scientists, and the spirit of unbelief that started sweeping the world in the 1960s and 1970s.  At that time, I discovered Rev Hicks' teachings from the Bible in Christ Gospel Church literature, and they were like cool water in the hot desert of my mind. She intellectually convinced me that serving God makes perfect sense, that the Bible is the unchanging truth of God, that my life has an eternal purpose, and that devoting my life to God is the greatest and highest goal to pursue. 

To be sure, Rev Sister Hicks is very human and she has on occasion through the years thoroughly irritated or angered me. But I have never met anyone who has instilled in me an awareness of God and a love for Jesus Christ like she has.

As intimated elsewhere in this blog, at one stage of my journey I allowed my vision of going on for God to become blurred. I turned away from my pursuit of God and ventured out to seek fame and fortune in the world. All through this time, although at times I displayed a terrible attitude towards the children of God, Rev Hicks showed me nothing but love, took an interest in whatever I was doing, did not once criticize me, and took much trouble to encourage and inspire me to seek the perfect will of God in my life.  Finally, I received the strength to do so, and I will eternally be grateful for her role in that respect.  

Spiritual leadership in her community 
Rev  Hicks is loved and respected in her community at large, where she is well known as someone who is truly in touch with God. I have lived in that community for many years. Over the years, I have seen politicians, city officials, community leaders, bankers and ministers from other denominations seek her advice, spiritual counsel and prayers. They may not go to her church, but they know, "When in spiritual need, go see Sister Hicks." 

She has always had a heart for orphans, having been one herself. One of her first mission projects more than 50 years ago, was setting up an orphanage in Mexico, which she still helps to support through her personal  fund raising for missions. 

Separation from the world
Rev  Hicks has for more than seven decades unflinchingly upheld the standards of holiness and separation from worldliness that she started out with. These standards were commonly upheld by Pentecostal Christians for much of the 20th century, until the age of lukewarmness also infiltrated the Pentecostal world. 

Rev Hicks has received much criticism from persons who have turned away from these standards of holiness and decided to follow the ways of the world. In my experience, talking to some of these folks, they have never understood what holiness and separation is really all about. Some of them experienced separation as something harsh that their parents imposed on them. Instead of seeing separation from worldly things as a way to come closer to the love of the Father, as the Apostle John wrote, they think of separation as harsh and judgmental. Having to grow their hair as commanded by the Apostle Paul, or not painting their faces, or not walking half naked was a "penalty" that they resented, something that their parents forced them to do in order to be "spiritual."

I have noticed through the years that some adults who grew up in traditional Pentecostal denominations, including ours, have an overwhelming desire to be accepted by what they see as the main stream. They felt marginalized as young people, and now seem willing to throw overboard almost all standards in order to be seen as "normal." That is a great pity, because they never grasped the vision of living a beautiful life separated unto God. They still feel the pain of living and dressing in ways that they thought made them look awkward. They resented being different, and some have never recovered from that resentment. Sadly, that has clouded their vision and made them willing to forsake the call of God they once felt, justifying it with the modern theology of "radical grace" which propagates forsaking most of the tenets of the New Testament in the name of "freedom from the law."  

Something beautiful
What I have learned, though, is that separation from worldly things can be something beautiful, an act of love for the heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. It can be the result of a gradual fulfillment of I John 2:15 in one's life, where He leads me to give up some worldly hindrance so that I can love Him in a deeper way. Then it does not matter what worldly people say, it matters only what my Lord knows and what His will is for me.  Then I gladly stop drinking wine, or put away the television, or cover my body, or put away worldly activities, so that I can please Him and experience more of His presence in my soul and in my heart. 

Song of Solomon 5:16  His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem!

The purpose of pain and suffering
In my view, one of Rev Hicks' greatest contributions is her testimony about the purpose of pain and suffering in our lives. From childhood, she endured much suffering and rejection, which included being sent to an orphanage at a tender age after the death of her father. Initially, according to her testimony, it caused her to become very hard and bitter. But, in the love light of the heavenly Bridegroom and the Eternal Father, she eventually discovered that every heartache, every thorn, every disappointment was a necessary part of His beautiful eternal purpose in her life.  So it is with each one of us. See further the page herein entitled, "The Revelation of God in All Things."  

Below are the introductory remarks from her personal testimony, A Thumb in My Back:

"Everyone's life is a plan, a span of time between two eternities, carefully plotted by an omniscient, omnipotent God. When God sends a man into this world, He gives each individual his own talents and abilities. Then God lifts a man up and lets him fall into just the niche he has been ordained to fill. As man goes through life, he finds that within his niche has been placed a special pair of scales which measures out life's pleasure and pain in the exact amounts needed to bring him to God and to perfect him in Jesus Christ. 

"The majority of people go through life without truly understanding the painful circumstances or even the pleasurable situations into which they have been plunged. When pain comes, they may become embittered, hardened, or disillusioned, and accuse God of being unjust, unfaithful, unloving or even non-existent because they cannot accept the pain that God weighs out in order to bring each of them into a close, personal relationship with Him. Or God may bless people in order to show His love and desire to draw them to Him. In whatever way God approaches us, it is His mercy and concern that pushes us toward Him. And push us He does!          

"God dealt with me, personally, for many years before I recognized that the "push " in my life was His big thumb of mercy prodding me, thrusting me, goading me with pain, and sometimes pleasure, into paths that led me at last into a more intimate, glorious, satisfying, and fulfilling relationship with Him than I had ever dreamed possible for a mortal being to experience. All the darkness, all the despair, all the intense pain of suffering, physically and emotionally that I endured, was preparing me for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a life of service to God, but I was too blind for years to see that the pressure in my life was His thumb in my back. I couldn't escape the feel of it, but it took no form nor shape until I began to walk in His will. Then I saw how good, how gracious, how sweet was every ounce of pain that God put in my scales because each weight brought me closer to Him."