The early years of Norman Hicks (‘18) were full of struggle, strife and many injustices. Hicks grew up in an unstable home with an abusive father. At the tender age of 11, fearing for his safety, this little boy decided it would be better for him to run away than to endure another day at home with his father. His mother passed away nine years before that, so, thought Hicks, “I thought I could do much better on my own.”
Scared and with nowhere to go, a young Hicks set off to live in the woods of San Antonio, Texas. “In order to survive, I had to steal for food and sneak back into my father’s house to steal blankets and clothing to survive the elements on the outside.” Life seemed pretty bleak.
But his stint in the woods didn’t last long. “I was caught by the police and taken to child protective services after two weeks,” recounted Hicks. From there, he was taken to live at a boy’s shelter for the next two and a half years. Sadly, due to some oversights, Hicks fell through the cracks of the system. “I missed the six through eight grades during my time under child protective services’ care,” he explained. “And those are the years where most of the English and reading comprehension skills are taught.” Eventually, the shelter tried to get him caught up – he did graduate from high school on time – but he knew that there was a gap in his learning. “After high school, I swore I would never go to college,” he said. “I felt educationally challenged because I lacked those skills.”
God had different plans for Hicks. As he grew up, he felt a call to the ministry and began working with homeless individuals. “I felt the call of God to go sharpen my sword,” is how Hicks explained it. “I had previously taken some bible courses at Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church where I received a certificate of ministry in biblical studies,” he said. “Through the partnership of Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church and Lancaster Bible College, I was afforded the opportunity to continue my education where I could obtain my bachelor’s degree.” Hesitant but interested, he began to research the program.
Hicks was excited about the prospect of earning his degree – but also nervous. Ever since his experience at the boy’s shelter, he lacked confidence in his skills in the classroom. “This opportunity did come with a slight bit of fear on my part,” he said. “All of a sudden those skills I was lacking came back to mind. At Greater Mount Calvary’s program, it was all biblical courses. But this meant taking English, math and literature – all of the courses that would require me to use skills I felt I did not have. But I didn’t let that stop me.” He applied and was accepted at Lancaster Bible College | Capital Seminary & Graduate School – Washington DC, where he’s currently enrolled in our biblical studies program for adult learners. He says it’s been going great – better than he ever imagined.
“The experience that I have had at LBC has been great,” Hicks said enthusiastically. “The professors have been wonderful. They are very encouraging and have given me tremendous help in the areas where I felt I lacked – but now I can truly say I don’t lack anymore.” He said he’s thankful for his time at LBC and the education that’s prepared him for life outside the classroom. “I am now starting to feel very equipped to answer the call that God has placed on my life,” said Hicks. “The Bible teaches us that when you have gone through something, it’s as though you had been sifted and you then overcame it. We as Christians are supposed to go back find someone who is going through similar circumstances and give your brother or sister strength to overcome it.”
Hicks is doing just that. “For the last eleven years, I have been working in the homeless ministry at my church,” he said. “Our ministry goes out to show love. Our homeless ministry strives to minister in the way that Jesus did.” Helping Hands Ministry, a ministry of Greater Saint John Cathedral in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, serves hot meals, provides gently-used clothing and personal care products to the homeless community in the Washington D.C. area – and under Hicks’ supervision, the ministry is growing all the time. “Now that I can see my college degree on the horizon, I feel more equipped to work outside the walls of the church to evangelize to those who are standing in need of a savior,” he said excitedly. “To God be the glory!”