Free Methodist World Missions is deeply grateful for Floyd Clinton Hicks’ years of dedicated service to his Lord through the Free Methodist Church in Africa. We celebrate his life – a life used of God to touch the lives of countless others.
Floyd first trained to be a teacher and taught in the public high school on Whitehead Island for six months. He did not like teaching and went to work on a farm for two years. It was during that time that he thought he should train to become a missionary doctor. On the advice of his older brothers, he enrolled in Lorne Park College in 1950 for Senior Matriculation before attending the University of Western Ontario for medical school. He described his two years at Lorne Park College as “a great spiritual blessing to me.” It was there he became friends and classmates with Donald Bastian, the first bishop of the Free Methodist Church in Canada. Bishop Bastian writes, “Those of us who knew Floyd Hicks are sad to hear of his passing, but at the same time we rejoice that the goal he lived for all his Christian life has been reached – ‘absent from the body, present with the Lord.’ Across his years of service, his Christian commitments were solid, whether shared with his wife, Alice and family, reflected in his medical practice, or experienced in pleasant exchanges with his much loved children and grandchildren. He was a quiet, thoughtful man who loved to reflect on or discuss the deeper issues of life. His dedicated medical skills were appreciated by his patients whether he practiced in the homeland of Canada or on the mission fields abroad.”
Floyd married Alice Hewgill in 1957 and graduated from medical school in 1958. They moved to Pelee Island on Lake Erie in 1959 to fill a position as doctor that was subsidized by the government in order to leave themselves free to become missionaries if the call would come. The call never came but they had the privilege of helping to build a church for the only evangelical group on the island. After 15 months, they decided to move to Glencoe, Ontario, and establish a medical practice. It was shortly after their move that they were contacted by the Free Methodist Mission Board about possibly working in Africa. After just taking on a mortgage they weren’t able to leave at that time, but within four years they were able to be free from the mortgage and leave the medical practice.
On August 12, 1965, the Hicks were on their way to Burundi where they spent a year in service at the Kibuye Hospital and in language study while the Ensign missionary family was on furlough. From there they moved to Rwanda where the work was difficult because of corruption and lack of cooperation from the church. Floyd was a courageous communicator of the realities of life on the mission field. In a letter to Mission Board General Secretary Charles Kirkpatrick, Floyd wrote, “The outreach of our hospital is spiritually practically nil because of unconverted staff. I can’t get rid of any more or I shall have to take the worst ones back. Is the mission board and church justified in spending money and personnel for a purely secular institution for humanitarian reasons? I am not completely convinced that we are operating any better an institution than the government. Personally, I feel that if a mission hospital does not have a real Christian witness it doesn’t have too much reason for existence.” Yet on his annual report for that year when asked to write his personal testimony he wrote briefly, “Christ is all sufficient for every need.”
In 1968, the Hicks returned from the field but by 1971 they were headed back to Africa. This time to serve as missionary doctor and nurse at Chikombedzi Hospital in what was then known as Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. They shipped their earthly goods, including a piano, by boat on July 20, 1971 and left Toronto airport on August 4.
As attested by the many letters between Dr. Hicks and the general secretary for the General Mission Board, the years at Chikombedzi were also challenging. The country was in civil war. The hospital was underfunded, without adequate water and sewer, understaffed and riddled by competition for additional doctors with other mission hospitals in Africa. In all of this, Dr. Hicks never wavered in his dedication and support of the people he served. He was their strong advocate.
Dr. Henry Church, former area director of Africa writes, “I met Dr. Floyd Hicks on my first trip to Zimbabwe in 1972. He and his family were at Chikombedzi Mission Hospital in what was then Rhodesia. He picked me and a friend up at Lundi and we spent a couple of days in the ‘bush’ hospital with him and his family. We had a delightful time, having no idea that I would ever live there myself.
“Dr. Hicks was deeply appreciated by the people of the hospital district. He provided deeply needed care that would have been totally unavailable to any of them without Dr. Hicks. His understanding of operating on a shoestring and fixing things himself was a blessing, as there was always something that needed repair in the hospital. He oversaw building. He witnessed for the Lord. He dispensed care, all seemingly equally easily. His dry sense of humor helped him in a lot of situations that could have been frustrating.
“Over the years, we met several times at denominational occasions, and once he came back to Africa and visited us while we were living in Masvingo. What fun we had remembering times together. I deeply appreciate him and his family. He will be missed!”
Bishop Emeritus Gerald Bates, a friend and missionary colleague, writes, “Floyd gave faithful service as a missionary doctor. He was a devoted husband and father, a noble and consistent servant of the Lord. Floyd had a sensitivity to the ironic, thoughtfully seeing a situation in a peculiar way, giving his assessment, then watching your face to see if you agreed with him. This was a special gift making him invaluable as a friend and counselor to someone in leadership. He was also an expert sailor, which my daughter Beth and I enjoyed on one visit to Canada.”
On July 7, 2017, Dr. Floyd Hicks went to be with his Savior, becoming part of the rich legacy of those who have served through Free Methodist World Missions. His decision to follow Jesus to the ends of the earth has borne eternal fruit.
Rev. Gerry Coates
Director of Global Church Advocacy
Free Methodist World Missions