Words by Terrell Manasco | Image by Blakeney Clouse
Adam Hicks will never forget his first visit to Jasper.
The year was 2013. Adam, then a youth pastor at a church in Hoover, came here shopping for a car. What he experienced that day changed his life. “I remember sitting at a restaurant and overhearing conversations people were having…driving down the road and seeing homeless people,” Adam recalls. “I remember walking in a gas station and seeing people with needle marks on their arm. I asked the clerk how their day was and they’re like, ‘I’m here, I reckon.’ There was just this sense of hopelessness—almost a despair.”
Back home in Helena, Adam still couldn’t forget the things he’d seen. “God began to break my heart for Jasper in those few hours I was here,” he says. “For three nights I lost sleep. I was trying to pray for the ministry I was in, and I was praying for Jasper.”
Four days later, Adam got a phone call. It was from Desperation Church Senior Pastor Andy Hice. “He said, (in a Southern drawl) ‘Hey boy, I want you to pray about something,’” Adam says. “‘We’re driving around a city, praying about launching our next campus. We asked God who could lead this, and He keeps bringing your name to us.’”
When Adam asked what city, Hice dropped the bombshell. They were in Jasper. “I broke down on the phone and started crying,” Adam says.
Desperation Church launched its Jasper campus on January 25, 2015, with Adam as pastor. Since then, the church has played an active benevolent role in the community through various activities. “Andy Hice always says, ‘We’re a church that’s going to see a need and be an answer,’” Adam says. “We believe anything we invest in, whether it’s putting on a fireworks show or stocking secret pantries to feed high school kids, is a bridge that somebody can walk across to meet Jesus. It’s this idea of, ‘We don’t want anything from you. There are no strings attached.’”
But giving away free donuts and breakfast meals isn’t always met with gratitude in today’s “me” culture. In fact, some have reacted with hostility. “People have cussed me out because they could not believe there wasn’t a string attached,” Adam says. “Generosity opens up the door for people to realize they are loved by God. When they find out there is a God who loves them, no matter their screwups… that’s where lives are changed.”
When Adam first came to Jasper, he left with feelings of despair and, ironically, desperation. But where there was despondency, now there is hope. Optimism. And love.
“I fell in love with this place. I want to be buried here,” Adam says. “I love Walker County. I’ve lived a lot of amazing places but there is no place like it. I love what God’s doing.” 78