Sins of the Fathers

So what’s the first thing that comes to your mind when the word “prison” surfaces?  For years I would instantly judge those in prison as evil law breakers who deserve everything they are given – especially those who have preyed upon the innocent!

Then I got knocked by a .357 magnum bullet, spent nine months lying on my back as I awaited both corrective surgery and my trial….and during this time I received a NEW heart from Jesus Christ and subsequently NEW UNDERSTANDING that God looks at people and sin far different than the vast majority – on both sides of the church doors – who are so quick to judge.  Think about it…..some murder with a gun, others murder with their lips!   From God’s higher perspective…..he looks at gossipers, slanderers and backbiters as no different than those who end another’s life.  To him…..sin is sin is sin.

Just think about it…..did God not use ex-murderers to write most of the Bible?  Why, consider yourself….does God not JOYfully turn losers into winners?  And is His forgiveness not for EVERYONE, regardless their sin?  So why should you and I judge others?  After all, we weren’t present when those in prison….were abused by parents, family members and neighbors.

Indeed, the majority who are in prison were abused while young – verbally, physically, sexually – before they ran away to become the abusers!  Does God’s Word not say that “the sins of the fathers come above their children?”

In one of Josh McDowell’s books he says “80% of children who don’t have a Dad as a ‘player’ in their lives will turn to drugs and even worse.  He’s not talking about Dads who work hard to ensure their families’ material needs are met….he’s talking about a Dad who are willing to make their children a higher priority, and who are willing to spend quality time with his children, Dads who are “present” in their lives while they grow up.

Oh yes, those in prison definitely deserve to be punished for their crimes but do they deserve to be punished for the “crimes” of their parents?  And if God is willing to forgive them should we not also?  Does He not clearly say that we are to “let this mind be in you which is also in Christ Jesus…..to remember those in prison as if in prison with them and when we minister to them we are actually ministering to Him?

God’s thoughts and ways are far higher than yours and mine…..and in this hour He is calling us to “come up to His level of thinking, to receive understanding and be transformed into children who are fueled with His passion to minister to the unloved, the forgotten, the outcasts of society….and to “meet them at the gate” if and when they are released from prisons.

One day soon we will all stand before God….and be judge for “both the good and bad” we did as His children.  And in that day, many will say “did we not do this and that in your name?”  What will He say to you….on the subject of turning your hearts and hands away from those whom He loves….just as much as He loves you?

Why not pray right now and ask forgiveness for being so quick to judge others….and to ask for understanding so you can begin to look at others….from God’s perspective.  After all, IF our citizenship is indeed in heaven, and we are living “above” and not “beneath”…..should not we be THINKING in heavenly places – so we can do some earthly good?

* Philip Hicks has been called to minister FREEDOM to captives “on both sides of the prison walls”.  Now back in Roseville, he and his wife, Patti, and their 11-year-old son, Cody, recently returned from ministering to the “incarcerated church” for one full year, coast to coast!  Endorsed by Chuck Colson, Merlin Carothers and Francis Anfuso, Philip’s autobiography, The Cross & the .357 Magnum, is available on their website,www.amerryheart.com.   We encourage you to prayerfully consider scheduling Philip’s JOYful ministry for a future church celebration!

Generational Curses Break in Garza

Early one Sunday morning I pulled into the parking lot at Garza West, a maximum security prison located outside of Beeville, Texas.  I had left my family at a church in Beeville who had allowed us to set up temporary headquarters while Dad was ministering to the incarcerated church for four services in two days.  We were on our eighth month of ministering in US prisons for one full year, coast-to-coast!

Once inside I instantly knew that was once again it would be me who would receive the greatest blessing for I sensed the presence of God was indeed in this place!  Time and time again during our time on the mission field I had seen God show up to minister through me….as I got out of the way.  And today would be no different!

Upon entering the large chapel I was greeted by huge, joyful smiles from the brethren – many of whom might never see the streets again – but it was easy to discern that their hearts had been set free!  And this freedom was not based on circumstances or blessings but on a surrendered life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ!  For a moment I thought back to 1979 when I, myself, arrived at Union Correction Institution in Raiford, Florida.  Six months earlier a judge had sentenced me to a consecutive “Life + 15-Year prison sentence”  But following my 1978 arrest someone had led me to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and I had already begun tasting of the goodness of our Lord and come to fully appreciate the scriptural passage in 2 Cor 3:17 which reads “where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom!”

The Church of Garza West boasted a choir of 100 and that morning their voices touched heaven and quickly brought us into the presence of our King!  Following several songs, one of my “relatives”, Grandpa Dudley Hicks “interrupted” and asked “if he could testify?”  Held up by his walkers and sporting his new dentures (a set of billy bob teeth), Grandpa kept the 400+ men laughing with his comedic routine, entitled “It’s hard to be a hick in a hi-tech world!”

But next came “the serious side of funny” as our Lord anointed me to JOYfully minister freedom to His children as I drew from many of my experiences while incarcerated as well as my failures following my miraculous release from captivity!  As always, God’s Word never returns void as many stood up to receive the gift of eternal life by professing Jesus as their Savior.  The majority of these men had previously raised their hands when I asked “who didn’t have a Dad as a player in their lives while growing up?”  Statistics compiled by Josh McDowell clearly point out that “80% of children who don’t have a Dad who is present in their lives will turn to drugs and even worse.”  Scripture clearly points out “the sins of the fathers come upon their children” for several generations.  Based on this, it sure looks like the vast majority of those behind bars already have two strikes against them while still young!  It’s no wonder they look for love in all the wrong places in a futile attempt to find acceptance but never coming even close to discovering their true identities.

Most everyone present that morning stood up for prayer as the Spirit of God “broke” the generation curses off their lives.  And just as many raised their hands in surrender and we asked our Lord to break the chains of anger and lust from their hearts as well!”

That evening I returned from Garza West Chapel to minister to still another packed church.  As I was slowly making my way to the front of the chapel a man approached me, stuck out his hand and said “hello, Brother Hicks….my name is Manuel….and the message you ministered this morning was for me!”

A member of the choir, Manuel was allowed to sing again that evening if he had sung that morning.  He towered over me (most do) at @ 6’ 2”, looked like he lived in the weight room with muscles rippling all over his body and

was covered in tattoos!

“Brother Hicks,” he began, “this morning when you reminded us that if we are to walk in obedience and full surrender we will have to separate ourselves….from others who want to continue to serve satan.  Well, today…I went to my people and said I can’t hang with ya’ll anymore!”

Suddenly, this giant of a man broke down in sobbing tears – more tears than I had ever seen on a human being, so many that his skin sparkled!  And as I placed my arm around his shoulder and began to pray for him we both sensed a heavy presence leave him…and his mourning was suddenly turned into JOY!

Yes, Jesus is still behind bars…..and the Father’s love is drawing the hearts of orphans into His warm embrace as never before!

Where the Spirit of the Lord is…..there is freedom!

Philip Hicks and his family are based in Roseville, CA but are available to minister in your church and local prison anywhere within the United States.  Endorsed by Chuck Colson, Merlin Carothers and Francis Anfuso, his first book, entitled “The Cross & the .357 Magnum” is available on his website, www.JesusBehindBars.com.

My Story

As a child my parents always took me to church but despite hearing the Word, I demonstrated a “form of godliness” when others were watching.  Bottom line, I was very  “religious” but never truly began an intimate relationship with Jesus.

 

Looking for love and fulfillment in all the wrong places I ran from God for 29 years before getting knocked down so hard that there was nowhere to look but up!

 

As a 29-year old I was flying in the fast lane – reporting sports, eating fire and partying with the likes of Jimmy Buffet, Hunter S. Thompson and Robin Williams.  All this came to a screeching halt during a botched burglary where I found myself on the wrong end of a .357 Magnum!  While wrestling with my attacker, my right femur bone was shattered by a bullet before he put the gun to my head. All I heard were two loud clicks as his gun was now empty!

 

Lying in a hospital bed for one full year while awaiting both corrective surgery and my trial, I was led to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!  I was then encouraged to TELL THE TRUTH at my trial and God gave the grace to OBEY!

 

Sentenced to “Life + 15-Years” in prison I soon underwent surgery before finally reaching my new home in a Florida maximum security prison during Christmas week of 1979!

 

But a mere 18 months later a miracle letter arrived which completely vacated my entire sentence!  Once again our Lord was faithful to accomplish His Word for when I “foolishly told the truth God used that to confound the wise” and my trial judge made a mistake which the Florida Supreme Court later declared justification to reverse my sentence! (I might add that one year after my release the same Court changed the law back!  Yes, another Red Sea opened to set a captive free before again closing)

 

Despite being miraculously set free “all because I told the truth” I remained in a far worse prison of suppressed anger and lust that contributed greatly to the demise of my first marriage!

 

Remarried in 1992, my precious wife, Patti, soon found the courage to confront me about my issues with lust and I broke down like a baby!  I later learned Patti had read an article about the large number of believers that battle with lust and pornography. The Spirit of God moved her heart to graciously confront me without judging me. Surely, my sins had found me out, but this proved to empower me to pursue a lifestyle of accountability – which now begins at home – and today I HATE the sins that held me in a far worse prison!  I now guard my eyes, thoughts and heart from ANYTHING that would give place to satan’s lure into compromise!  I am now DRIVEN by a passion to see men and women – on BOTH sides of the prison walls – live in FREEDOM.

 

Over 90% of those in prison were orphaned as children after being verbally, physically and oftentimes sexually abused!  But our Lord still looks upon them as mere children with wounded hearts and Jesus is calling us to join Him behind bars to not only minister His love to the unloved but to, most importantly, meet them at the gate when many are released!

 

As never before, He is raising up shepherds after His heart who are being discipled to minister in their mission fields as well as being released to minister understanding to a lukewarm church!  Indeed, whom the Son sets free is FREE INDEED!  But I have learned that unless I walk in integrity and full surrender I only tie my Lord’s hands from making good on His many promises!

 

After passionately ministering in the Placer County Jail this week the following morning during devotions Holy Spirit whispered to me about my destiny.  He said “just as the slums of Calcutta were Mother Teresa’s destiny yours is to join me behind bars to minister hope to those who are cherished by me.

 

There is NOTHING more EXCITING than to discover one’s destiny!

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