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Best wishes from high school classmates

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God bless you.
Three months ago, when news of my newest health issues hit my former hometown of Kansas City, Kan., I got a lot of calls and get-well cards from former high school classmates, who have assured me ever since that they have been praying for God to heal me from my brain cancer, prostate cancer and end-stage congestive heart failure. Indeed, God is doing just that.
But the closest I've ever been to a reunion of my Sumner High School graduating class of 1961 came last Sunday when 30 of my former classmates came to hear me preach at the Strangers Rest Baptist Church in KCK, where my brother, the Rev. Jimmie Lee Banks, is pastor.
My good friend, Joann Ferguson Kendall, with the help of Annette Williams, was kind enough to call a couple of days in advance and inform fellow classmates that I would be preaching. I was extremely surprised, pleased and encouraged to see so many faces that I had not seen in 47 years and that gathering reminded me of how blessed I am.
Class reunions help many of us to count and relish our blessings as we see how we and our classmates have handled the many challenges of life since graduation. Especially hardships. Perhaps, you, too, have been equally touched by such reunions.
You've never met them. But nobody could have had better high school classmates than I had in the likes of Joann, Jimmie Lee (who was so smart he skipped a grade to be in the same class I was), his wife the former Alice Yates, Annette, Shelby Johnson, Lemuel Norman, Beverly Fouse, Henry Briscoe, Lurie Horton, Robert Scroggins, Carolyn Officer-Cook, Wiletta Easley, Herman Love, Jackie Brown, Margaret McGilbray, Sam Fennell, Annette St. Jean, Margaret McCluney and so many more. Former underclassmen present Sunday included Dr. Bertram Caruthers, an highly accomplished dematologist, my wife Joyce and Betty Maddox.
Many of our classmates, as old folks used to say, died before time. We lost some in the Vietnam War and some from the Vietnam War after they came home with drug addictions and assorted other afflictions that proved terminal. Others died young from cancer, heart attacks, auto accidents, violent crimes and other accidents. Most of my classmates, who got married, suffered at least two divorces and have been single ever since. Bad marriages can be hard, but good, teachers.
I especially hate to see so many of our fine black women unable to find good husbands, who are willing to love them, work hard, respect them, help raise their children and preserve their marriages. Too many are looking for wives to be their meal tickets, second mothers or punching bags. So I agree wholeheartedly with the exhortations of Presidential candidate Barack Obama. It's the same thing I preach about again and again as I look out from the pulpit and see that women make up 85 percent of the congregations I preach to. They are the backbone of our churches and families. And that's the raw, ugly, but honest ,truth.

"We were just glad to see you're still alive and doing well," Joann said. "Now we hope you'll fully

recover and be able to attend our 50th class reunion in 2011."

I assured her that if the Lord preserves me until then and they won't have to roll me in on a hospital

bed and in a critical illness, I promise to attend.

As a native of Lyon, Miss., who spent three years there attending an elementary school that had no

plumbing, no electricity, where one teacher taught five four grades in one room, where school was

scheduled not to conflict with the cotton-picking season and where our textbooks were the out-dated,

ragged publications that the white schools had thrown away, I saw first-hand the vicious lie in the

so-called "separate-but-equal" claim by southern white racists. School were racially separate but far,

far from being equal. And that was by design.

But when my mother, Mrs. Sarah Loraine Banks, died in 1954, and my father, the late Rev. A. D.

Banks got elected pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in KCK and moved us there in 1956, it was like

moving from a wilderness to a paradise in terms of improved opportunity and quality of life. I

was shocked to walk into Northeast Junior High School and find students taking for granted the

indoor plumbing, the electricity, the water fountains, the bathrooms with showers, the gym, the

cafeteria, the air conditioning, the beautiful classrooms and wonderful teachers.

Although I did not attend an integrated school until I enrolled at the University of Kansas, I was

blessed by the wealth of knowledge, experience and dedication of the all-black faculties at Northeast

and Sumner. I took advantage of every opportunity to excel and prevail at a student and as a boy

preacher in KCK. I started preaching at the age of nine. But as a 13-year-old preacher in KCK, I was

still a big attraction in the black churches there.

As a consistent honor society member, an athlete, singer, actor and leader, at Northeast and

Sumner, where I rose to student council president, I was considered one of the most likely to succeed.

My classmates looked up to me and have always admired me of my many accomplishments. I was the

president of all the YMCA's Hi-Y clubs in Wyandotte County and, as a senior, was elected the first

black boy governor of Kansas, when Kansas Hi-Ys took over the state house for an annual day of mock


At KU, I was president of the largest student organization on campus, the KU-Y, and I also

represented the national YMCA with a dozen other YMCA youth leaders from across America in the

1964 International Workshop Seminar that was held that summer in Omuta, Japan, Hong Kong, China,

and the Philippines capital of Manila. I also joined the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the 1963

civil rights march on Washington, D.C.

After college, I was the first black reporter for the Kansas City Star before I joined the Navy as an

officer after graduating from the U.S. Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I.

So all that history and more came to play in my former high school classmates coming to hear me

preach last Sunday. I'm sure that most, if not all, came praying and believing that that would not be the

last time they would see me alive. But just in case, they wanted to make sure because so many of our

other classmates died much earlier though they were much younger and in much better health. Death

plays no favorites. Death is an equal-opportunity destroyer.

The subject of my sermon was "You've Got Mail." taken from that AOL greeting we hear when we

log in to check our emails. The gist of my sermon was that Jesus was the best mail that man has ever

gotten from heaven. He is God's best love letter. I closed by identifying my ongoing healing as the

latest email that God is giving me and those who believe that He is still in the healing business. I got a

standing ovation and was greeted by heartening smiles and best wishes afterward.

God bless you.

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We continue to pray for you daily. When there is no additional blog I pray a little harder because the only thing I can be certain of is that the Lord is still with you. It is good to know that you are doing well enough to travel and the Lord is still giving you messages to inspire. Reunions are really good for the soul. It is always amazing the things that you recall when you look back over time with those you shared. And then we are reminded how awesome is our God that we can store soooo much in these little brains we have, as memories come rushing like a river. Ain't He great. Love to the family.

Banks' response: Yes, it's a miracle how much we can store into "these little brains" and a tragedy that too many store so little, then demand so much more than they have the mental and emotional ability to handle. Then there are the classmates who accomplish the most after they appeared to be ;east likely when they were stumbling away in high school. Then there are those who appeared to have everything going for them only to be become crashing failures.

Good Morning Rev,

Good to have you back. I, like Gwen, check the blog every day for your postings. When I don't see one my prayer is that you are OK and not suffering in any way. Glad to hear that you are still out and about being about God's business while He is about His business of healing you. Your credentials are impressive. You have lived a good life. God has been and still is good to you. Class reunions like you said can be sad but also inspiring. I haven't been to a reunion in about 10 years. After attending the last one I remember counting my blessings and thanking God for his protection and blessings. If you want to know how blessed you are listen to someone else's story. You are soo blessed Rev and we, your blog followers are soo blessed to have you. You have experienced just about everything that life offers and you are not ashamed to talk about the bad times. I continue to pray for you daily. Are you preaching Sunday and if so where?


Banks' response: Donna, thanks for being one of the wonderful winds beneath my wings, hoisting me higher and higher in the blues skies of healthful recovery. It's a magnificent reflection of God's amazing grace when He crosses my path with the prayerful, supportive likes of you in the times of struggles. In a sense, then, you are an extension of God. For we are His hands, His feet, His voice and His energy when He wants to get things done between us. He moves through us when we yield ourselves to Him to use as His instruments. I pray that God continues to use Him as one of his heavenly utensils. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. Sunday morning, I preach at Cathedral of Joy in Homewood, Ill.. It will be the fifth straight week that I will be preaching somewhere. I am encouraged that more and more churches want to see God's Healing in Progress, which is me.

If you’re strong enough to preach, you must be healing nicely…
I can’t help but think that you’ll be hosting a book release party a couple of years from now to promote your book which will be filled with the lessons that you’ve learned from this journey that God has asked you to take… You continue to teach us with every one of your blogs… What a great blog!!! I really admire you for living life to the fullest!!!

Banks' response: If God chooses to swing down His sweet chariot right now and let me ride back to Him in Bright Glory, I couldn't think of a better thing to do than what I'm doing. And that is giving Him glory and thanksgiving in the midst His healing me from serious sickness. Yes, this Sunday morning will mark the fifth straight week that I will be preaching somewhere. And each time, I have chosen a healing theme because I am a living testimony that He is a real testimony. And if my testimony increases the faith of others to call upon him in similar situations, then my suffering is not in vain and to God be the glory for the things He has done, is doing and will do in our lives. I am so glad that I know Jesus as my personal Saviour that I feel like shouting right now, Stan. I mean right here in my family room right now at 12:45 a.m. Saturday morning with a Brahms violin-piano sonata playing in the background on my satellite radio classical music station. Truly, God is great and greatly to be praised. Try meditating on God in the middle of the night while listening to some beautiful classical music in the background. Believe me, that's a powerful moment of profound praise and private worship, where His Holy Spirit can minister to your soul. We just can't thank Him enough for His goodness.

Good morning Rev. Banks and a good morning it is. I was so glad to read about your class reunion and having the opportunity to fellowship with good and praying friends on this side of heaven. You and your family are in my prayers daily. God is not finish with you yet! There is more in store for you.
God Bless you,

Banks' response: Prayer makes way for more blessings from God. Prayer is not only a mean for petitioning God, but for praising and thanking God for what He's already done, what He's doing and what He's going to do. That's one of the reasons the bibles says men ought always to pray and not faint.

Hello Lacy, I think of you whenever I see Jimmy and I just saw him preach Charlotte Dabney's Memorial last Sunday. I didn't know you had been sick, but am glad you seem to be getting much better. I ran across your column when I google Margret McGilbray's name (I need her address) and low a behold all the names you mentioned in your newsletter popped up. I enjoyed your column very much. Well, God Bless You! I'm off to a class reunion meeting.

Banks' response: Bonnie, how great it is to hear from you. Thank you for your

reading my blog and for your compliments and well-wishes. I'm impressed that you

came by the blog through Googling Magaret McGilbray's name. But that's how

Google networks and allows bloggers to expand their outreach.

While in Kansas City last weekend to set up some major home improvement

for my mother-in-law, Sister Emma Wooten-Searcy, I enjoyed the special treat of

hearing my brother, Dr. Jimmie Lee Banks, preach the morning sermon at

Strangers Rest, where he is pastoring and doing a magnificent job. He preached

from the subject "Life's Most Important Appointment." His sermon was

a masterpiece and his delivery was truly outstanding. My mother-in-law says she

has yet to hear him preach a bad. Based on that and other sermons I've heard

him preach live and on audio tapes, I conclude that Jimmie has not only come a

long way fast, but I now defer to him as the best preacher in our family.

I came up as a boy preacher in the prehistoric era when divine dinosaurs

roomed and ruled the black baptist pulpit. Leviathan like our daddy, Dr. C.L.

Franklin, Dr. Caesar A. W. Clark, Dr. D.V. Jemison, Dr. T.J. Jemison, Dr. J. H.

Jackson, Dr. Gardner Taylor, Rev. I.H. Henderson Sr., Rev. Leo Daniels, Dr. T.

M. Chambers, Rev. Cleophus Robinson, Dr. E.A. Freeman, Dr. Frederick G.

Sampson, Dr. Gordon H. Humphrey Sr., Dr. J.W Williams Sr. and so many,

many more would stir ecclesiastical earthquakes with their preaching and shake

sinners aloose from the sinister socket of satan.

As you know, I come from an household of priests with two preaching

brothers and a sister who ought to be preaching for real instead of jacklegging

as an unofficial pulpiteer. Jimmie is taking preaching in our family not just to a

new level, since there are different levels of mediocrity, but to a new and higher

dimension. And Bonnie, if there ever was a time we needed good preaching,

good sound-doctrine preaching, we sure so need it now.


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Lacy J. Banks

Lacy J. Banks, 67, has been a Sun-Times sportswriter/columnist for 38 years and a Baptist preacher for 58 years. He has preached at more than 100 different churches in the Chicago area. A native of Lyon, Miss., Banks graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.A. in French and he served three years in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Naval officer. Lacy and wife, Joyce, have been married 42 years and have three daughters and five grandchildren. Among beats Banks has covered for the Sun-Times are the Bulls, Fire, defunct Sting, Blackhawks, Wolves, Cubs, defunct Hussle, Rush, Sky, college football and basketball and pro boxing.



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lacy Banks published on July 10, 2008 9:49 PM.

40 years of marriage to my high school sweetheart was the previous entry in this blog.

Daddy came back from the dead is the next entry in this blog.

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