“Thank You, King James” – the tough life of Robert Hicks James Hastings
John Bennett, Pinxton, Nottingham [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
Published by Day One Publications, Ryelands Road, Leominster. HR6 8NZ.
It was the psalmist who wrote, ‘He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings’, Ps. 40. 2. Reading this traumatic and troubling story, it would seem a most apt text to write over the life described.
Robert Hicks was born in Birmingham, spending much of his early life in ‘different overcrowded houses and lengthy stays in care homes’. He grew up without memory of his mother ‘ever hugging or kissing me unless it was to impress visiting social workers. Birthdays and Christmas went unmarked . . . there was just silence born out of sheer disinterest’. His memories of his father, who returned from military service in the Second World War in 1947, were worse, describing him as violent and pitiless, one who ‘took a perverse pleasure in beating, ridiculing and ignoring’ his children.
For a boy tongue-tied, dyslexic, rejected by his parents and poorly educated the future looked grim until Robert discovered a book unknown to him called the Holy Bible. The advice of the surgeon who had performed the simple operation to cut the membrane holding Robert’s tongue was ‘read a book out loud while writing the words’. The only book that Robert could find in his house was the Bible that had been pushed behind the gas meter. Starting at Genesis chapter 1 he began the task that was to transform his life.
From such seemingly hopeless conditions Robert Hicks was saved, baptized and received into the fellowship of Christians meeting in the Gospel Hall, Jiggins Lane, Birmingham. As well as growing physically and spiritually, Robert also developed a talent in retailing, rising quickly from grocer’s boy to relief provisions manager before becoming the manager of his own shop as part of the Mason group.
It is remarkable that out of a home characterized by moral depravity and child abuse there should grow a man who has contributed so much to the work of the Lord in a variety of ways. It is a testimony to the grace and sustaining power of God that saved and has kept Robert Hicks. This is an honest, if initially harrowing, account of how God can, and does, change lives!