God bless you.
My faith that God will completely heal me from brain cancer, prostate cancer and end-stage congestive heart failure owes some of its support to my daddy, the late Rev. Anderson Douglas Banks, Sr.
In 1951, daddy, then 40, was driving through a rain storm from our hometown, Indianapolis, Ind., on U.S. highway 24, on his way to Nashville, Tenn., for a board meeting of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Incorp.
When he came across two women trying to push their bogged-down car out of roadside mud, just outside of Paducah, Ky., the Christian and gentleman in him refused to let him pass by on the other side. So he stopped and ran across the road to help.
Thanks to his 5-9, 230-pound frame, daddy succeeded in pushing the car sufficiently forward to gain traction and spin its tires out of the mud. The women went on their way. His good deed done, daddy says he then pushed his luck and tried to run back across the highway to his car. But the rain and an apparent bend in the road blinded him from seeing a pickup truck that hit him and propelled him some 25 feet through the air.
When daddy landed and would-be rescuers came to him, he lay unconscious on the ground, bleeding profusely from compound fractures of both legs. Unable to feel his pulse, the rescuers concluded he was dead and called an ambulance to take him to the nearest funeral home.
But during the slow trip to the mortuary, one of the ambulance attendants saw him move a finger, examined him, found a pulse and had the driver to turn on the siren and change his destination from the funeral home and speed to the nearest hospital.
After hours of emergency surgery and pints of blood transfusions, daddy's life was saved.
When the news of his accident reached home within hours, my mama, the late Sarah Loraine Sanders-Banks, announced its arrival with a ear-piercing scream that woke up her four sons and two daughters.
I awake to find her standing in the frame of our opened front door, looking up to the gray, rainy, early-morning sky, crying and praying in epileptic anguish.
"Your daddy's been in a bad accident and they don't think he'll live," mama said. "We all gotta pray."
We joined her in tears and prayers as my older sisters Maude Lee and Lue Kuicious hugged and consoled her.
Within a couple of days, daddy regained consciousness, but remained in critical condition. When his condition was stabilized and ungraded and he was transferred to Indianapolis, he says his chief doctor gave him a grave prognosis.
"You're lucky to be alive because you had been severely injured," the doctor said, "had lost a lot of blood and your heart had stopped beating temporarily. You'll live. But it will take a miracle for you to ever walk again. And if you do, it will be with the aid of crutches or a walking cane."
I was eight years old at the time and I remember the great jubilation when they brought daddy home and camped him in a hospital bed in the dinning room, so that he could better receive visitors. My mama and we children waited on him and bathed him in prayers around the clock. It was doing that time that I was called to preach at the age of nine.
Within six months of his return home, daddy recovered well enough to return to the pulpit at the Mt. Carmel Baptist church, where he was pastor. But he preached from a wheel chair with both his legs in casks. Members shouted for joy each time he preached.
A few months later, he preached, aided by crutches. Members shouted even more vociferously.
A few months later, daddy would shed his casks and preached with the aid of a walking cane. The shouting grew more madly with mama leading the joyful wrecking crew.
A few months later, daddy was able to stand flat-footed, preach with even more power and no tear glands of true believers could withstand seeing and hearing him without unleashing torrential praise.
Thereafter, for the remaining 20 years of his life, that miraculous recovery was the principal testimony that daddy used to close his sermons until he died from a stroke in 1974 at the age of 63.
That testimony was branded into the hearts, minds and souls of me and my siblings. Again, at the time of his convalescence, I was called to preach. Daddy and I then became a tag team, preaching and fighting the devil bare-handed, slaying satanic dragons and combing Mississippi cotton fields for sinners after daddy had lost his pastorage in Mississippi and moved his family back to Lyon, Miss., to live in the same house where I had been born with the aid of a midwife.
Life was hard at times in those days as daddy pastored four churches, that held services once a month. Plus, we sharecropped 15 acres of cotton for a couple of years to make ends meet. Daddy pastored the poor, who paid him with farm produce and game when they could not pay him money.
Mama died at the age of 42 from blood poisoning after unknowingly carrying a dead fetus, her 13th child, in her womb for a couple of weeks. Daddy greeted the news of her death by sitting on the steps of the front porch of our house (the church parsonage) in Lyon and unleashed a crying scream I'd never heard before, have never heard since and don't want to. Death had parted him from his loving wife of 23 years.
Mama never lived long enough to see one of her eight surviving children get married or have one of us to take her out, or invite her over, for dinner. To this very day, I cry when I recall how mama--an old-schooled housewife who could cook, iron, wash (with scrub board), sew, keep house, make the most beautiful quilts--lived so little and died so young.
After her funeral, her brothers and sisters wanted to parcel out her children because they didn't think a traveling preacher like daddy could do a good job of raising us. But daddy refused to break us up. He had promised mama that he would keep us all together.
"There's not a step child in the bunch," he'd often say.
In 1956, daddy left the Liberty Baptist Church in Lyon to become pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Kansas City, Kansas. There, as liberated refugees from the Mississippi cotton fields and the ruthless racism of the South, my sisters and brothers and I found new hope and great opportunity to upgrade our lives north of the Mason-Dixon line.
But the testimony of how the Lord raised my daddy from the dead and healed him of crippling injuries, suffered while playing good Samaritan on a rain-drenched Kentucky highway, has remained, for me, an abiding anthem of my faith. And it is from that miracle that I draw confidence that the same God who delivered him will deliver me for all the world to see.
I'm ready to accept whatever God's final decision is. In the interim, I want Him to get glory out of my aches and pains, my losses and gains. I am a healing in progress. The brain cancer has been ruled benign. The prostate cancer, despite resultant incidents of painful and embarrassing incontinence, is being effectively treated with radioactive seeds. And my heart is strong enough to no longer warrant an emergency heart transplant.
God bless you!
Praise the Lord.
Thank you Jesus!