Publication: One-to-One, Spring 2015
Even in the midst of great personal suffering, he continued to minister, counsel, pray, prophesy, and care for those in his family and church. The anointing of God never left him, and continued to pour out of him until he breathed his last breath.
For me personally, the worth of his life, example, love, and wisdom is incalculably great. I knew him all of my life, from my earliest memory. He and his extraordinary wife, Ellen (a heroine in her own right), were always close to my parents, and our families were close together. John Duke personified friendship.
I was honored to grow up watching him, listening to him, being encouraged by him, being chastened by him, and ultimately, receiving a prophetic blessing over my life and my family’s life that I will always cherish. John Duke was humble, and preferred the role of the servant rather than the served. And, he certainly wanted no pomp or fuss made over him. Therefore, I will not give him the title of “prophet” here, but make no mistake: he was prophetic and carried a prophet’s mantle. He was in ministry for more than 50 years across the USA and in New Zealand, where he and his family lived for 2 years.
He was a powerful preacher, with great insights. Among the many great sermons I heard by Brother John, I was especially affected by a message he gave in 1984 about Job entitled, “Gird Up Your Loins, and Act Like a Man!” That night, he inspired hundreds of young men to embrace the call of God on their lives and to be relentless in pursuit of Him.
I never saw a more loyal or faithful man than John Duke. He was tenacious in his desire to serve God and God’s people. He was tough, as tough as anyone I’ve ever seen. More than once, I saw his face, head, and ears get red with the intensity of his desire to do right, and to see right done. John Duke was a worker, and he attracted people who loved to work. He never demanded more of anyone than he demanded of himself; in fact, it wasn’t ever anywhere close to what he demanded of himself.
Brother John was sincere and passionate in his prayers. As he would pray, it was a privilege to be a witness to the dialogue he was having with God. He would listen to the Holy Spirit, and pray out of what he was hearing. Sometimes he would laugh, sometimes he would cry. He would stand up with his hands in the air, or he would lie flat on the floor, face down, calling out to God. And the tangible sense of God’s presence in the room would be electrifying.
As fierce of a prayer warrior as he was, he was just as tender with his family; his wife, children, grandchildren, and great- grandchildren were precious to him and he delighted in being with them. He had an unshakable trust that God’s faithfulness does indeed endure from generation to generation.
And to that end, he also made disciples, right up until he passed away, among many generations. Young people were drawn to him, to learn and to receive an impartation of his spirit. Brother John leaves with them an exceptional legacy.
Nearly 30 years ago, he founded Covenant Life Church in the Atlanta area. In early 2014, he began the transition with Presiding Pastor Curtis Forman and now Senior Pastor Chris Hyatt. The church family there is in good hands with these faithful men and the outstanding leadership team that is around them. Please continue to pray for Brother John’s family and the church there.
Thank you, Jesus, for the life of your servant, John Duke. May we be worthy of the legacy we have received, and may we serve you with the same joy and faithfulness that he did.
STEPHEN SIMPSON is the Editor of One-to-One Magazine and the Director of CSM Publishing. In addition to publishing ministry, Stephen has served in leadership for churches and ministries in Costa Rica, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Michigan, as well as being the Senior Pastor of Covenant Church of Mobile (2004-2013). He continues to travel in ministry across North America and in other nations.