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Christian Union
August 23, 2016

Hickman '16 Credits Christian Union Ministry for Turnaround

By Eileen Scott, Senior Writer

peter-hickmanWhen Peter Hickman '16 arrived at Harvard College four years ago from Bonne Terre, Missouri, he was barely hanging on to his Christianity.

Today, as a recent alumnus, he has a firm understanding of the Bible and is living a life of overflowing faith and service. The applied mathematics major credits Christian Union's leadership development ministry at Harvard with helping him go from "almost agnostic to a Christian leader."

"When I came to college, I knew I was not putting Jesus at the center of my life, and I was not sure Christianity was true," Hickman said. "Christian Union provided the intellectual resources to understand better the reasonableness of the Christian faith."

Specifically, he credited Christian Union's emphasis on a seeking God lifestyle with helping him to develop a deep prayer life and noted how his peers were "inspirational in their life-transforming devotion to Christ." Hickman also called the ministry's Bible courses "crucial" in his spiritual development.

His leadership skills were honed as he served on the student organization's executive team as treasurer.

"Peter was deeply involved and invested in building Christian community," said Don Weiss, Christian Union's ministry director at Harvard. "He is exceptionally thoughtful. I have long appreciated his honesty and willingness to engage in the mysteries of faith while maintaining an eye towards faithfulness and sincerity."

As a result of seeking God more intentionally, Hickman found that being closer to Christ gave him a deeper desire to serve those in need. And despite the time he spends working with facts and figures, matters of the heart and compassion seem to come naturally.

One example is his participation in a 10-week service trip to Japan in 2014. Hickman joined six other students from Christian Union's ministry at Harvard to help that country rebuild from the devastating tsunami three years earlier.

"That experience was one of the greatest times of my life," he said. "As I worked with many amazing people who were following Christ, I got to be a part of international missions work and I was able to explore an amazing country."

"In the different jobs I did there, I was very conscious of a desire to show God's grace and love through my actions, in the hope that more Japanese people would trust in Christ."

Closer to home, Hickman devoted countless hours to manning the sound board at Christian Union's leadership lecture series. He has also served at homeless shelters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and near his hometown.

No matter where his attention lies, Hickman says he is grounded in God's love and directed by the calling to be Christ-like.

"My specific desire to study economic development was motivated, in significant part, by my sense that God cares dramatically for the poor and wants His people to value them," he said. "I'm [also] fascinated by economic questions and I think they are very important. When I have questions, I study them, which is why research is the path I want to pursue."

"I really want to help people in the academy to understand Christianity as reasonable, beautiful, and powerful, and I think I can do that as an economist."

For Hickman, work is not a means to an end, but a way to serve others and glorify God. "My life is not the space in which I search for enjoyment or fulfillment, but where I pursue other callings, such as building relationships, serving the church, and seeking God," he said.

"My life feels very coherent. I'm grateful to the Lord for His direction, to the church, and to Christian Union, for the guidance I received."