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Ray Hicks is well-acquainted with conflict, but he strives to be a signpost pointing the direction to the source of calm.
Hicks uses the story of Jesus calming the storm as he is out on the sea with his disciples in a boat to illustrate his point of who to turn to. There is no calm in the storm without Christ, he said.
Among other things, Hicks provides pre-marital and marital counseling, works with a special recovery program and has worked as a police chaplain at three departments, including training as a hostage negotiator. For 29 years, he and his wife, Bev, lived in the war zone in the Middle East while doing missionary work.
The associate pastor of member care at Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown, Hicks began missionary work after graduating from Georgetown College in 1973. He and Bev were given a two-year missionary assignment in Israel.
Hicks served as a representative and member care consultant for the International Mission Board.
Shortly after they arrived, the Yom Kippur War broke out.
“From the beginning of our ministry, we were in stressful situations,” Hicks said.
The missionary trip originally lasted from 1973 to 1975, but they returned in 1977 and stayed until 2005.
During their time there, Hicks said, a bombing took place as close as a block away.
Often throughout the experience, though, Hicks did not feel fearful. He said his faith carried him through it.
“If God wants to take me home, he’ll take me home” he said.
Hicks speaks fluent Arabic because of his his time in the Middle East. He even has a personal copy of the New Testament written in Arabic.
Additionally, he reads Hebrew and Greek and can speak some modern Hebrew.
Before becoming associate pastor at Severns Valley Baptist Church in 2010, Hicks worked as a marriage and family therapist intern and a pastor in Texas. While in Texas, Hicks also served as police chaplain with Richardson Police Department and as police chaplain and police hostage negotiator with Watauga Department of Public Safety.
“My first ridealong with the police there was a shootout,” Hicks said. “That was my indoctrination into being a police chaplain.”
In 2009, Hicks took basic and advanced police hostage negotiator training. One month after he completed advanced training, he was on the scene with a man who barricaded himself in his home.
“It took about nine hours, but it got resolved,” Hicks said, noting the incident occurred in 105-degree heat.
His role at the time was to provide information to family members.
Though Hicks is a police chaplain with Elizabethtown Police Department now and still does ridealongs, he said occurrences such as the shootout and barricade are exceptions. He prefers to think of himself as a resource for law enforcement, who he describes as “incredible” and as “heroes.”
“That’s where I give back to the community,” he said of being a police chaplain.
It also is where Hicks can, by taking a “healthy step away,” disengage from his work as associate pastor, which he loves.
“It helps me do this better,” Hicks said.
Part of his role as associate pastor includes working with the Celebrate Recovery program. The ministry, which meets every Monday night, is open to the community.
Anything from issues with jobs, family and finances to drugs, alcohol and depression are addressed through the program.
“Everybody who reads this article is struggling with something,” Hicks said.
Bev said her husband is very honest about some of his own struggles but draws strength from God and the Bible. She described him as “very positive, very encouraging,” a “man of integrity,” “trustworthy” and “humble.”
“He doesn’t ask anybody to do anything that he himself
isn’t willing to do,” she said.
Bev said she’s never been too concerned about her husband’s safety.
“I feel like he doesn’t go anywhere God doesn’t want him to be,” she said.
Hicks seems to take his past in stride.
“I think God has given me some unique experiences in life,” he said.
MORE ABOUT RAY HICKS:
City of birth: Highland Park, Mich.
City of residence: Elizabethtown.
Favorite music: Contemporary Christian, some country.
Favorite books: The Bible; “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet and Spy” by Eric Metaxas.
Favorite movies: “Open Range,” “What About Bob?” and “Homerun: The Movie.”
Favorite TV shows: “NCIS” franchise, “The Amazing Race.”
Favorite foods: Skyline Chili, Graeter’s Ice Cream, Arabic food.
Hobbies: Bicycling, working on his '86 Corvette.
Interesting fact: “We actually applied to be on ‘The Amazing Race,’ but we never got on.”
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or rvillanueva@ thenewsenterprise.com.