James Moore Hickson was born August 13, 1868 in Mansfield, Victoria, Australia to Robert Onslow Bellrophon Hickson and Emily Villeneuve Watton, the sixth of thirteen children. He attributed his spiritual heritage as coming from his mother. He says in his book "Heal the Sick" that she taught him to pray and made the Person and Presence of Jesus real to him. Hickson grew up in Australia and said that they often prayed for the sick as a family and even as a young man was moved to intercede for the afflicted on his own. The first time he saw healing was in 1882 when he was about 14 years old. He prayed for two of his cousins and they were instantly healed. His mother declared that he had a special gift in this area and encouraged him to follow it. For the next 18 years he lived a normal life and was a banker, while praying for those asking for help and often interceding for many from a distance.
Sometime before 1900 Hickson married his wife Grace, also from Victoria Australia. In 1900 his wife's uncle, who was a doctor, asked him to pray for a soldier who had been wounded in the South African war. He went to the young man, who was in constant pain and a nervous wreck. When he did the pain instantly left and the man quickly recovered. His wife's uncle told him that he needed to use the gift God had given him. Hickson became instantly aware that God was calling him to step into full-time ministry in the area of healing. He decided to get medical training to understand anatomy and physiology. By 1901 Hickson and his wife were living in London.
In 1905, with support from Bishop Mylne and others, the Society of Emmanuel was formed. The goal of the society was fourfold: to restore the gifts to the church, especially healing; to unite in intercession for one another and take communion together every month; to safeguard the Doctrine of Incarnation and Godhead of Jesus; to provide services free to all who asked for them. Hickson stepped out and began teaching on healing throughout England. 1908 was a significant year, he wrote the book "The Healing of Christ in His Church" and started a magazine titled "The Healer". Hickson had support from a couple of prominent Archbishops who sent 250 of his books to other Bishops for review. In 1910 he also started a healing home called the Hospice of Emmanuel, where the poor could receive both medical care and prayer from the church. Hickson's healing ministry blossomed and the support he received from the Society of Emmanuel continued until his work took him out of the country in the 1920s. Hickson life was busy from morning until night praying for the sick. He described it as "one continuous stream, day after day, and year after year. Old and young they came, with every kind of trouble, both spiritual and physical: people of all nationalities and creeds, and of every grade in the social and business world, all took their turn and received the same attention. Volumes could be filled with the letters from grateful patients giving thanks for benefits received."
Hickson's goal was not to be "the healer" but to have the church take up it's call to heal. Most places he went began programs for praying for the sick after he left. There was nothing dramatic about his personality or style. He looked like a businessman and was referred to as a Missioner by the church. When Hickson prayed, it was with the support of the church leadership. Before he started a Mission a Bishop would pray for him and release him to minister in their diocese. He used traditional liturgy and prayers, and normally had clergy pray alongside him to speak a blessing over people when he laid hands on them. He taught that God's love extended to people in sickness, just as it extended to people in sin. He prayed for people regardless of their faith because he believed that seeing the living Christ would turn their hearts toward Him. Hickson always gave the gospel and brought people to salvation, but never required it for them to receive prayer. Although he saw many cases of instantaneious healing he said the majority of healings were gradual. He was supportive of doctors and medicine, and felt that God used both in healing.
In 1914 Hickson formed the Emmanual League of Prayer, whose mission was to pray for the sick, wounded, broken and mourning people who had been touched by the war. There were a thousand members. In 1917 Hickson went to a small island off of Scotland to pray. While there he saw several people healed and God impressed upon him that he was about to enter a worldwide ministry on God's love and healing power. He felt that as soon as the war was over that he would need to step out, so he began to make arrangements. He sold his house, set up plans for the continuation of the paper, and turned over duties in his intercessory and mission organizations to others. His friends were astounded and told him that it didn't make any sense. His only reply was that he must be obedient. His ministry was founded entirely on faith. He never took a collection and his ministry was free to all. He amazingly supported himself and a staff in England without ever asking for money or receiving any support from the church.
In March of 1919 Hickson sailed for America. He didn't know a single person, but had been praying since the Scotland event in 1917 for God's guidance about this trip. He got off the boat in Boston and walked to St. Paul's Cathedral. One of the Bishops who had supported him in England was arriving that day to speak in Boston. He found out that Hickson was there and opened the way for him to hold meetings. Hickson declared "from that moment every Episcopal church opened to me." Hickson traveled constantly with a heavy speaking and praying schedule. He went from Massachusetts to New York to the West coast, back to the Midwest, and finally back to the East coast and finishing in Ontario, Canada on his way back to England. Between March 1919 and June 1920 Hickson held 80 missions lasting from 1 day to several weeks. He prayed for tens of thousands of people and saw thousands of healings. Still it was only the beginning and he was 52 years old.
The trip to the United States had provided finances for Hickson to travel to other nations. He returned to England only to turn around in September 1920 and head out again. This time his journeys took him to Egypt, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), India, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Japan, the Philippines, Palestine, France, South Africa, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Australia, and New Zealand for a 3 1/2 year healing missionary journey. He saw groups between ten and twenty thousand in India. He also traveled for days to hold a three day mission with a small group of lepers in Japan. He normally laid hands on all who wanted prayer. He saw thousands of healings, some instantaneous and some progressive. The blind saw, the deaf were healed, the crippled walk, and churches came alive. One clergyman described his visit as "bringing an earthquake". According to one interviewer (see article James Moore Hickson Healer in the reference section) Hickson believed many people were demon oppressed, especially those with mental illnesses. He indicated he could discern a demonic spirit by smell.
Everywhere Hickson went he taught it was time for healing to be restored to the church. He regularly prayed for deliverance and saw people set free. In a two week time period in Johannesburg, South Africa he laid hands on 10,000 people for healing. He worked entirely within the structure of the Anglican and Episcopalian churches, although his meetings were often inter-denominational. His Healing Missions had covered a five year period from March 1919 to April 1924 when he finally returned to England. It is interesting to note that Hickson's meetings often came within days or weeks of meetings held by Smith Wigglesworth or Aimee Semple Mcpherson in several of the places he visited. God was organizing a healing movement that crossed denominational and cultural lines. Hickson not only held meetings but regularly visited hospitals, sanitariums, mental institutions, private homes, schools for the disabled, leper colonies, and went wherever doors were opened to him in praying for the sick. In 1927 Hickson embarked on another journey which covered Jamaica, South America, Canada, and Bermuda. He also held missions in Ireland in 1930.
His ministry was not without controversy. Some clergy believed people were being healed due to psychological reasons and spoke against Hickson's "pschotherapeutics". The American Bishops held a meeting to decide church policy on Divine Healing but since opinions covered strong stances, both pro and con, a resolution was drawn up which was ambiguous in its decision. Still, in many churches that Hickson visited, prayer teams were created and prayer for the sick was integrated into traditional church practices. Hickson continued to pray for the sick and teach on the ministry of healing after his return to London. Over his life he wrote several books including "The Healing of Christ in His Church" and "The Revival of the Gifts of Healing" in 1919. In 1924 he published a book about his 5 year journey titled "Heal the Sick". Hickson died on November 14, 1933 but in 1937 his publishers brought out "Behold the Bridegroom Cometh: addresses given at the services of healing in Christ Church, Westminster 1931-1933".