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Faithfulness, prayerfulness & alertness fuel Duncan’s passion

PATASKALA, Ohio (BP)–Phil Duncan has been exercising his spiritual gift, the gift of evangelism, since he received Christ.

At the age of 13, Duncan saw his older brother get hit by a car and subsequently die. It not only drove Duncan to receive the gift of eternal life, but it also ignited a flame in him to share the Gospel with anyone who would listen so that they also can have peace with God.

“When God saves us, He gifts us,” said Duncan, associate pastor of evangelism and discipleship at Jersey Baptist Church in Pataskala, Ohio, near Columbus. Developing one’s spiritual gifts by using them is vital to discovering God’s plan for one’s life. Jersey Baptist offers a course called Serving with Joy, a curriculum Duncan recommends for those needing to understand how God has gifted them.

By exercising his gift regularly, Duncan has learned how to use it. Over the years, he has tried a number of approaches to sharing the Gospel and has learned which are most effective. One approach he likes to use helps him discern someone’s true spiritual condition to know how to proceed. “You have to pause when you ask this question, but if you say it right, it works well,” he asserts. The question is: “Have you ever personally given your life to Christ, or would you say you are in the process?” In Duncan’s experience, when given an alternative response, almost every unsaved prospect will choose the latter –“I’m in the process,” which opens the door for Duncan to ask permission to share how they can have peace with God.

As Duncan has exercised the gift of evangelism, he continues to learn how to use it in God’s timing, in His way and through His power -– something he believes every believer can do with his or her own gift.

“I know that it’s God’s desire to draw everybody to Him,” Duncan said. “But I also know the path to destruction is broad and many will find it, while the path to salvation is narrow and few will find it. But I don’t know which ones are which.”

A second key for making the most of his spiritual gift “isn’t anything new,” Duncan said -– it is prayer and quiet time, “honoring and adoring God, including Him in every detail of my life, and learning to pray without ceasing.” Duncan nurtures his love for Christ by spending time in the Word, both reading and memorizing it, and in prayer. In keeping his heart focused on Christ, he can say, “God, here is my day. When do I jump up and go?”

Scott Burdette came to Christ because Phil Duncan jumped up and went to him at a dramatic point in Burdette’s life. His wife had just delivered their first child — a son — and she was still in the hospital. Burdette went home for a quick shower and a change of clothes before returning to the hospital. Just as he turned on the shower, he heard a knock at the door. “Pastor Phil was there,” Burdette said. “Phil said, ‘I just feel like I need to be here today. What’s going on?’”

About 30 minutes later, Burdette was on his living room floor giving his life to Christ. “It was the most incredible day of my life — I entered fatherhood and became a new follower all in one day!” he celebrated.

By staying close to the Source, Duncan has been able to sense God’s leading and know that he has joined God in His work — something any believer can do as well.

Third, Duncan listens to God leading him to opportunities through circumstances and through others. At Jersey Baptist Church, members are well aware that his gift is evangelism and that he uses it well. He receives many opportunities to exercise it by following up the leads of others.

John Haines, for example, received Christ because his secretary gave his name to Duncan. “I had been reading the Bible — I’m kind of a history buff —- and I got to [the Book of] Job,” Haines recounted. “Reading Job, I began to think, ‘John, you better get your life together.’”

One day Haines asked his secretary (a member at Jersey Baptist) if she thought her church would baptize him. Haines laughingly stated, “She knew me really well, and her response was ‘No way!’”

About two weeks later, Haines got a call at his office from Duncan. Assuming that he was a potential client, Haines returned the call and Duncan invited him to lunch. In the course of their lunch, Duncan shared the Gospel and Haines, at age 64, received Christ.

For 50 years God has used Duncan’s life to draw hundreds of people to a saving knowledge of Christ. By daily dying to self and letting Jesus live through him, he has found the “life more abundant” that Jesus offers, and he daily enjoys joining God in His work, confident that God can use and transform every believer just as dramatically.

    About the Author

  • Kay Adkins