Holding signs in public big part of church’s ministry
SPRUCE PINE – Luke Wheeler felt compelled to “do something,” he said. Sitting on his porch watching it rain the afternoon of June 4, he called his pastor, Brent Duncan.
“I wanted to stand with signs somewhere,” Wheeler said. “But, it was raining and getting late in the day so I figured I’d do it sometime. But something told me, ‘Do it now.’”
For two hours that evening Duncan and Wheeler stood at the corner of Highland and Summit avenues in Spruce Pine holding yellow signs with black, bold letters. On Wheeler’s sign was Matthew 11:28: “Jesus said – Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Duncan’s sign displayed Romans 5:8: “But God commandeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Duncan, 40, has been holding these signs in public for years. A Christian since he was 12 years old and preacher since 2011, he started Contenders for Faith Church in April 2016 in his home. The church has since moved to 33 Summit Ave. in the space formerly occupied by Crystal’s Tanning.
About a dozen members of Contenders for Faith held signs in downtown Bakersville during the Rhododendron Festival and they plan to do the same during the Spruce Pine BBQ and Bluegrass Festival.
“I like to go where there’s a stocked pond,” Duncan said. “When we are out there we are not mad and we are not protesting, we are simply preaching the Gospel. If someone feels the call to preach there’s plenty of street corners out there.”
Wheeler, 30, said he has attended several Mitchell County churches and had heard Duncan preach several times. After hearing a sermon from Duncan at Freedom Church, Wheeler made a declaration.
“I told a friend if Brent ever started a church, I’d go,” he said. “It was about five months later when he started one.”
There are 14 signs in Duncan’s repertoire and verses chosen for the signs are “whatever comes to mind,” he said.
“Too many churches just maintain the status quo,” Duncan said. “When we are out holding these signs, we are being fishers of men and trying to do what we think Christ wants us to do. It’s all about the love of Christ and, like the old hymn says, ‘All to Him I owe.’”