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...with Jesus, doctors and common sense


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God bless you.

As I ponder a Oct. 26 surgical date with a heart pump, I do so with added hope after

a wonderful weekend of good news from two families, whose loved ones were helped by

the God-blessed modern medical technology of organ transplantation.

First, there is Jessie Ramirez' family on Chicago's southwestside. For months,

Tomas and his sister Patty have been begging me to come to their home to break bread

and to hear` how the transplantation of a heart pump gave them and their father, Jessie,

a retired butcher, a lifetime of joy by adding four extra years to his life.

Second, there is the family of my dear friend, Rev. Gregory Macon. His wife of 40

years, Vaughn, shouted to high heavens when his six-year wait was rewarded with a new

kidney. When I led her in prayer over the phone, after she had made me one of the first

to receive the good news, she shouted the way my dear mother, Sarah Loraine Banks,

used to shout over this kind of good news and the joy of the Lord.

I felt good for both families and led both in prayer thanking God for blessing

mankind with the medical breakthroughs that are enabling us to live longer. After all,

all our help comes from the Lord. Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down

from above, down from the Lord of lights, in whom there is no variableness, neither

shadow of turning.

After years of high blood pressure and diabetes that mutated into end-stage

congestive heart failure, Jessie, at age 60, was so weak he could hardly get out of

his easy chair in front of the giant-screen living-room TV and walk to the front door 17

feet away.

Doctors told him, he was a dying man who could only be saved by a heart pump

because he had gotten too weak from his multiple health issues to receive a heart

transplant. Faced with the gruesome alternative, it was a no-brainer for Jessie to choose

the pump because he just had too much to live for.

First, there was his lovely wife of some 40 years, Maria, who has the face of an

angel and a demeanor to match. Quiet, charming and graced with the smooth olive-hued

skin of a baby, she had been his primary caregiver, his best friend, the mother of his

children, the apply of his eye and the spice of his life.

Second, there were his children: sons Tomas, Marco and Jessie Jr., and daughters

Patty, Sandra and Kristina.

Third, there was his other relatives headed by his sister-in-law Chila, who has been

Maria's support system whenever she was wearied by the weight of her husband's


Fourth, there was the promise of seeing a grandchild or two, every father's dream.

"His will to live was greater than his fear of death," Tomas said. "He loved his

family dearly and he longed to bounce a grandchild on his knees before leaving this

world. He fought like heck. He was a warrior. We all love him so and will forever miss


The pump added four more years to Jessie's life.

"But they were precious years we enjoyed with our father," Patty said. "The pump

restored a lot of his strength and his vitality, He'd get up and go out for walks. He could

not keep still. And we were happy to see him enjoy life again."

Those four years were even more precious for Jessie, too, because it was during

that time that his children gave him two grandsons, three-year-old Stefano (Tomas' boy)

and two-year-old Christopher (Patty's boy), who are both thrust a couple of months apart.

When I walked into Jessie's home to enjoy dinner, I felt the warmth of his loving

spirit for his family still thick in the air. I felt also the afterglow of his family's love for him.

This mutual passion was so perfect and palpable.

First, the family answered a variety of questions I had about the pump, how Jessy

adjusted to it, how his care became a whole family affair and not just Maria's job, how

he reveled in holding his grandkids and other things.

After an hour, we retired to the dinning room where Maria served up a delicious

dish of pozole, a rich soup of hominy grits with vegetables and chucks of beef. Hmmmm.

La comida estaba muy deliciosa! Afterward, I wolfed down a slice of pie.

Then Patty closed the show and brought down the house with a 15-minute DVD

of family photos that invited me to journey down the family's memory lane and enjoy

photos of Jessie and Maria from the time there were teenage lovers in Ocoplan, Jalisco

in Mexico, through their beautiful church wedding, through a slew of joyful family

reunions and picnics. It touched my heart so deeply, the profound sense of family of the

Ramirez household, that I had to see the DVD twice. Patty obliged.

It was a chilly, rainy night outside. But a lot of warm sunshine pulsated inside that

house. I felt honored to be in the midst of such a lavish family love nest.

The very next morning, Saturday, Oct. 3, Mrs. Macon phoned me with the good

news. Rev. Macon has been through a lot of health challenges. But he never let them

get the best of him. A couple of times, he collapsed into a coma while out of town

running a revival. You, see, Rev. Macon is one of those old-school Baptist preacher,

steeped in the whooping tradition forged by the promethean likes of Rev. C. L.

Franklin, Rev. Caesar W. Clark, Rev. Clay Evans, Rev. Donald Parson, Rec. Leo

Daniels, Rev. L. L. Laws, Rev. Jasper Williams, Rev. Johnny Miller and Rev. Gordon H.


He preaches with power an aerobic athleticism until he is lathered with sweat and

saints are shouting like crazy and demons are screaming for mercy and the devil is

screaming, "Ouch! That hurts! Ouch!" Rev. Macon's kind of preaching with grow hair on

a bald-headed man, make a bulldog hug a hound and make a sinner repent and become

a saint.

Six years, he waited diligently and often painfully. Six years, he underwent dialysis

three times a week. Six years, he had his blood washed almost 1,000 times. Six years

he endured needles and pills and bills for his ills. But six years, he and his prayer

partners never gave up hope. The switchboard in heaven stayed busy 24-7 with prayers

of the righteous being offered up on Macon's behalf.

In my mind, I can hear angelic operators saying, "My, my, my. That Rev. Macon

and Jessy Ramirez' family sure have a lot of prayer partners."

Before I let you know, I want you all to know that God is still answering prayers.

God is still saving to the utmost. God is still delivering. God is still feeding and leading.

God is still fighting the battle for the underdogs and the downtrodden all around the

world. God is still in the healing and blessing business. Just ask the Ramirez and

Macon families. Their souls are a witness for my Lord.

And right now, wherever you are and regardless of what you're going through, if

you drop down on your knees and prayer the prayer of faith asking in Jesus' name, God

will hear and answer prayer. I love Him. I trust Him. any way He wants to heal me is

alright with me.

God bless you.

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Three weeks hence, the next chapter in the Lacy J. Banks Story will be written. It's a chapter of renewal and resurrection. A chapter of love and family. A chapter of healing. The way has been made clear for you. Your time has been extended. And your story reminds us all that we can trust that things, even in the most dire conditions, can work out.

Ain't that good news?

BANKS' RESPONSE: I'm so thankful that the Lord is still large and in charge.

So I dare not let myself be troubled because He not only has my back. He has my

front, my sides, my top, my bottom, my inside and my outside. He just has the

whole world in His hand. That's why t'is so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him

at His word, just to lean upon His promise, just to know thus saith the Lord. So

my saga continues to be written and you are among my co-authors.

T'is so sweet to trust in Jesus! Shout, shout, shout! Oh Father in Heaven you have brought us so far on a journey we could not have known the many turns, ups and downs, hills and valleys. Oh, thank you Father for your goodness, your direction, your saving grace and sweet mercies. Thank you Father for allowing us to see your work in our lives and the lives of our brother, Rev. Banks. Oh, thank you Father for this patience we did not know we had. Thank you for our brother Rev. Banks, who so filled with your love has been overflowing touching each and every one of us, to your glory. Now, Father, we ask in your Son, Jesus' name, to bring our brother through, if it be your Holy Will. Amen. Now, Rev. get well because there is much to be done. BTW, my 16 year old grandson has been called, had been struggling with it, finally spoke with his parents and has been meeting with his pastor. Grandmother's advice, study the Word and let the Holy Spirit guide you. Hallelujah! God is good! Love to the family!

BANKS' RESPONSE: "Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus" is one of my most

favorite hymns and people rarely sing them anymore. I especially like the version

that Chicago's Acme Baptist Church choir sang to win the "How Sweet The Sound"

gospel music contest of 2008. So I'm taking God at His word. I'm leaning upon His

promises and I'm wallowing in His word. Then there is that name: Jesus. Oh how

sweet the name. Jesus! Every day the same. Jesus! Let all saints proclaim His

worthy praise forever. I thank the Lord tonight that He did not give our Savior just

any ol' name. I'm glad that He did not name Him Jerry or Johnny or Rufus or John

or Darnell or any other name. Rather, He gave Jesus a name above every other

name. A name so above every other that the very recitation of it commands the

bowing of every knee, of things in heaven, things in the earth and things under the

earth. And every tongue must confess that JESUS is Lord to the glory of God the

Father. And when my life down here is over, if there is one word I'd want dripping

from my lips with my last breath, it is "Jesus." Until then, oh to be kept by Jesus!

DUH. Everybody's will to live is greater than their fear of death.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Everybody, Elizabeth? Everybody? If that is true, then

whence cometh suicides? Whence cometh the desire for one to take his life or

have someone assist him to end his suffering? Some people live life as if they have

a death wish. They intentionally live dangerously or carelessly. Then there are

terrorists who court and prefer a violent death where they take as many innocent

people with them.

Dear Rev. Banks,
Once again I apologize for being "off line" for a while. I've read recent blogs and comments to keep informed. Other readers have responded like I would have so there was no need for me to be redundant. (smile) One thing I can contribute is a scripture that came into my spirit when you announced the date of your surgery and taking leave to prepare for it. I didn't write immediately because I wanted to be sure. So silly we sometimes are, doubting what the Spirit says to do very clearly. Of course, I couldn't get it out of my head and went to the Book to find it. The scripture is 2 Kings 20:1-6. I won't summarize here because I want those whose interest is piqued to read it for themselves in the bible. You're a much better teacher and preacher of the Word than I am and I know that you will do this scripture more than justice in your response. As always, my prayers for your mighty blessings continue to bombard God's throne. God bless you, Marie

BANKS' RESPONSE: There is a piece of Hezekiah in the spirit of every

born-again Christian. There is the fight to live and the capacity to beg God to

extend our lives in times of great sickness and distress. There is that part of us

that feels a familiarity with the God who controls life and death. There is that

confident part of us that knows when there is no need for a whole lot of words

because we know that God is omniscient. That's why Hezekiah's prayer to God

through the wall beside his dying bed was a rather terse variation on a simple

theme: "Lord, You know." Because he was deep in the faith and had walked holy

and humbly before the Lord, he knew he didn't have to put on a show. He knew

he had nothing to prove to a God who already knows everything. So to make a

long story short and spare himself the vanity of bragging about his faithfulness

and love and stewardship, all he really had to say was, "Lord, You know." And

indeed, God knows our respective records. He knows all about us. And when we

come to Him in prayer, we don't have to ask the silly question, "Lord, do you

remember me? Lord, were you looking at me when I mistreated that person? Lord,

were you listening to that lie I just told?" No, no, no. God knows. He knows our

strengths and our weaknesses. He knows our ups and downs. He knows our ins

and outs. And though we may succeed in fooling each other everyday, we can't

ever fool an all-knowing God. In fact, that's one of the things that makes praying to

God an easy thing. We don't really have to feel Him in. In fact, His Holy Ghost has

to help us pray for we know not what all we should pray for. But He knows. I said

God knows all about it. That's why we have to have Him to explain a lot of stuff

to us. Including stuff about us. Hey, think of the times when you've asked the

question deep down in your heart, "Now, Lord, what shall I do." Then you confide

in your friends and loved ones. But they have troubles, too. There is a God who

rules earth in heaven. In Him is relief from every kind of care and He knows--I'm

so glad He knows--just how much we can bear. You know the rest of the song,

Marie. So why don't you go 'head on and have church and sing that rest of that

song is private worship. Yes, He knows. When others don't want to know and when

others intentionally misunderstand, He knows.

I see by the calendar that you have a week before you take the next step on your road to recovery. So, I thought I'd stop by and wish you Godspeed. I can envision you at Thanksgiving dinner with renewed energy and vigor, and with another great and marvelous thing for which to be thankful.

I also see where the Sun-Times will be going on for a while more. I understand that people had to make some difficult concessions, but it's a good thing that they didn't have to be laid off. And I will trust that, in the coming months, as the new owners decide who stays, they will look favorably upon your legacy as a sportswriter and, now, as a chronicler of healing.

Your reportage here, while offered through your personal lens of your faith and tribulation, tracks along with the studies now being conducted that prove a link between prayer or belief in a higher power and healing. While scientists haven't been able to say why it is so, they have concluded it IS so. We see, through these studies and your essays, that faith - not religion, but faith - is something alive in us. Even those who may not realize it or acknowledge it, carry the mustard seed within them.

So, as you go through the week and then your surgery, you have the best thoughts of all of us who have followed your story that you emerge with new energy, life, and stories to tell.

BANKS' RESPONSE: The Lord just keeps right on blessing me, John. A trip

to the Mayo Clinic has resulted in me postponing the Oct. 26 date to undergo

the implantation of a heart pump at the University of Chicago. UCMC doctors say

I can't get on the heart transplant list until my PSA drops to an acceptably low

lever. In the interim, they recommend the pump, which, they say, I will have to live

with and live off for at least two years. But Mayo doctors appear inclined to declare

me eligible for a heart transplant now because of the progress I've shown in

recovering from prostate cancer. Over the last 19 months, my PSA dropped from

5.5 to .85, as of last week. So I am returning to the Mayo, where they have ordered

more tests and want me to meet with their more extensive cardiac team.

Dear Reverend Banks,

You do not know me, nor do I know you. I stumbled upon this blog by accident while searching for something else. I have read through some of your past posts.

Dear Reverend Banks....are you at peace?

Susanna York
London, UK

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thanks to my Savior, Jesus Christ, who, among other

things, is the Prince of Peace, I am at peace with whatever befalls me between

here and glory. Because heaven is my final destination, I have to be at peace.

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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 October 7, 2009 2:26 AM.

I WISH THE LORD WOULD SAVE THE SUN-TIMES AHEAD OF ME was the previous entry in this blog.

MAYO MOMENTS POSTPONE DATE FOR HEART SURGERY is the next entry in this blog.

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