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'Urban Missionary' making a difference in hard neighborhood through faith

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

In a human life chock-full of choices, a spiritual calling was once nowhere to be found among Ennie Hickman's very earthly aspirations.

"Mostly because it was just uncool and nobody wanted to be labeled you know Jesus freak," said Hickman.

But as in so many ultimately guided by powerful belief, a moment of epiphany altered a young man's path.

"That's literally how it was. It was just all of a sudden and it was, What are we living for? What are we doing?," he recalled.

Irreversibly inspired by faith, Ennie Hickman set out to make a difference, a journey which would lead he and wife Cana to youth ministry within the Catholic church.

It was all good, but somehow, just not good enough.

"We were just serving in these parishes that have all this money and all these people and they are doing a fine job and I'm doing a fine job, but I'm uncomfortable when I'm mediocre and you know I'm uncomfortable when I'm just settling for status quo," said Hickman.

It was in that spiritual discomfort that Ennie Hickman was driven to a more radically, fundamental expression of faith, that of reaching out to the chronically left-out.

To find them he, like many, felt compelled to leave the country, time and again until the very day a new and more familiar mission field emerged just a few miles from his Houston home.

"We're on the way to the airport and we're going, look at all this, look at this neighborhood, look at that neighborhood," said Hickman.

To the "mission table", Ennie Hickman brought his own powerful communication tools which he's often shared with audiences numbering in the thousands.

But on most evenings the "urban missionary" is among a mere handful of folks, building a foundation of trust with kids in some of the hardest neighborhoods Houston has to offer, places where gang life and desperation can leave church pews empty, priestly words unheard and lives ruined early and often.

"A lot of that stuff is just symptoms of a lack of hope. They just don't know that life could be better," said Hickman.

For those willing to hear, the message is a simple one.

"It's like, here's Jesus. Here is this guy that's really done a lot for me and I think he could do a lot for you as well," said Hickman.

On most mission nights there is food and friendship and expressions of faith.

For inner city teens, it is a welcome respite from often harsh realities and a formula for resilience.

"They are looking at each other going 'Wow, you believe this too?' I wish I would have known! I see you every day in school and now we are together on this. We are a different kind of gang'," said Hickman.

Ennie calls his crew of fellow urban missionaries, Adore Ministries. They are caring folks, empowered by belief, walking a grace driven walk as best they can.

"God is so much bigger than your fears," said Hickman.

Bottom-line - No agenda, just Jesus.

On the Web:

Adore Ministries -- http://adoreministries.com/

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