My name is James H. Banks Jr. I had a pretty good life. I come from Thomasville, Georgia – born and raised there. Went to high school at Thomasville High School. Then went on later and pursued a degree at Mercy University in Macon, Georgia.
I’ve always been a member of the church. I was raised in the Methodist Church – served as a musician all of my life. I always had a great love for God, and my mom and dad always impressed that upon me from the time that I was a small child.
I can remember that I got full membership in the church when I was about 10 years old. God began to work with me a whole lot then. I was spending times imitating my uncle, who was a pastor himself. I would try to do things that he did in the pulpit, talk the way he did, act the way he did because he was an impressive individual to me that always kept his cool in all kinds of situations.
Then after I graduated from high school, when I went to college, I could tell the difference. I would always try to go out and party and hang out, but I always felt that I didn’t need to be there. And there would be people that would tell me I didn’t need to be there.
So as I grew older and got closer and closer to God, I started studying more. Still hanging out . . . going to church, doing all the right things, but . . .
One day I just didn’t feel right anymore. I knew that I had to do something different. We use this term sometimes, we “ran” for a long time. I didn’t come into the ministry until I was later in my years, in my 40’s.
I was working at a good company, a Fortune 500 company, and I went to work that day and I walked inside and all of a sudden I couldn’t see or talk. And that experience put me in the hospital for 13 days. At that time God revealed to me that He wanted me out of there. He had something else for me to do.
And so I’ve turned around. I’m a pastor now, working hard.
I’ve had some other times in my life that were crucial. One bad marriage – and God gave me insight on that, on how to treat other people, as well as be treated well myself.
I’m happier now. The struggle is hard. Being a pastor is not an easy thing. The hardest thing for me to deal with is how people view me as being something super that I’m not, and therefore when I make mistakes, it’s hard to recover. But knowing that I trust in God, He gives me the strength.
That’s why I came to the Center for Biblical Studies. This has been one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had. In fact I call this place “God’s hidden treasure.” It’s been a wonderful thing for me. The spirit is just so wonderful here. To me, I feel like I’m home when I’m here. And this has been one of the greatest turning points in my life, right here.
If you are a young man like I was, who thought that it was okay to hang out and get drunk and hang out – you’re really missing the real trueness of life. There’s a void there. When I would come in for the next day I would find myself feeling bad, broke, disgusted for a week, and the real joy was not there.
But now – to enjoy the beauties that God has given us – I enjoy the same things. I enjoy the music. I enjoy the beaches, all of that stuff, but without all the drudgery and the repercussions that goes along with hanging out and getting drunk and doing all those wild things.
There’s a peace now. And that peace supersedes all that falseness that the devil puts in front of you. It may look good, now, don’t get me wrong, but what you suffer the next day is not worth it. And I would tell any young man, reconsider. Have fun, but give your life to God. God doesn’t want you to change your character. He just wants your character working for Him.
When I look back over my life now, I’m just thankful that I didn’t get to be a truly old man before God showed me some life, because the peace that I have now is so good. If I could just recapture about 20 years, I can see that I would have done marvelous things for God. But I’m just thankful that God told me that He would restore all those years that the cankerworm took away from me.
So I’m just going at Him full throttle now, because I know that He’s going to give me the best that He can give me, and I’m going to give Him the best that I can give Him now, because He’s allowed me to live through all those experiences for a reason. And I want that reason to be fulfilled before my time is up.