STUTTGART, Ark.– A gangster turned pastor returns home to Arkansas in hopes his story will stop the violence in his hometown of Stuttgart.
The Louisiana pastor shared his story he titled “From Crip to Christ” with high school students in Stuttgart for the first time on Thursday.
“From Crip to Christ”— a Louisiana pastor returns to his hometown of Stuttgart, AR. The former drug dealer & gangster returns to HS to share his story in hopes it changes these students STORIES positively & bring the community together after recent violence in town. #ARNews pic.twitter.com/8lrDKqENIX— Price McKeon (@PriceMcKeon) February 28, 2019
Charles Banks met us on Rose Street in Stuttgart before heading to the high school.
“This is where I came from,” he said.
The 53-year-old showed us where a home used to stand. It was where he grew up.
Banks told us, “You can look at it. Where I was born and raised at is one block away from where the shooting took place at.”
The recent violence prompted the pastor to try to make a difference.
“I’ve got high. I’ve done it. I’ve smoked crystal meth for 12 years (and) burnt my brain up,” he said to a group of high schoolers.
The times of what he describes as being a former gangster, drug dealer and drug user led him to prison. The 53-year-old said about 15 years ago it also led him to Christ.
He shares his story he titles. “from Crip to Christ”
Stuttgart’s mayor, an alderman, local pastor join the conversation. The students choice to be part of a group the school resource officer is mentoring. We learned a recent homicide victim was a member of this group last school year. #ARnews pic.twitter.com/5ax1VEQkpA— Price McKeon (@PriceMcKeon) February 28, 2019
He described his past, “”Sold dope from Compton, California to Little Rock to Tupelo, Mississippi. I was once told I’d never be nothing [sic].”
He talked with a group of young men the school resource officer mentors.
Rev. Banks said, “God saved me for a day like this to share with the people (that) there’s still hope. You can come out if you want to come out.”
We learned the rural city’s most recent homicide victim used to be a member of the group of mentees.
“I don’t care what no body says. You don’t have to get no gun and shoot nobody,” he passionately told them.
We also met a local pastor and Ward 1’s alderman in the Banks’ neighborhood.
Holt said, “I’m deeply concerned about what’s been going on in our city- the violence.”
Alderman Teddy Holt, local pastor Alane Allen and the city’s mayor attended Banks’ motivational speech.
Holt said, “I never thought I’d be walking around with a computer in my pocket but the way things are the way the world is anything can happen.”
We’ve learned Banks’ plans to meet with city leaders and local pastors to put a plan into place to reach the community after recent violence in the rural town.
“What can we do as a community to solve this problem in this little town called Stuttgart, Arkansas?” he asked.
Banks told us he hopes he can help bring hope back home.
Rev. Banks is based out of Lafayette, LA. To learn more about his story and how you can help him help his hometown he can be reached at (337)344-9345 or dgapp.web.com.