Testimony of Associate Pastor Tony Duty
Growing up in a Christian family with roots in the South allowed me to hear the gospel from the time that I was a young child. My dad (Gary Duty) was raised in West Virginia and moved to Michigan at an early age when my Papaw Duty moved North for work. Dad learned to sing and play music as a boy from his mother, and grew up singing with his family in church.
My mother also grew up in a Christian home, with a father that was a Southern Free Will Baptist preacher. Papaw Wolford was what we call a hacking preacher. I have fond memories of my dad and his family singing in Papaw Wolford’s Church (the Wayne Free Will Baptist Church in Wayne, Michigan) and my Mamaw Duty often getting up to testify for the Lord. Although they were not as doctrinally sound as they should’ve been, they had the touch of God on them and they had some great services where the Spirit of God would come down and people would shout and praise our great God.
As I look back now, I can understand what they were shouting about, but at the time, all I knew was that I would get very uncomfortable in those services as a young child. As time went on, my dad began to sing with another group called “The Crossmen” with his best friend Bill Christian. Those guys could really pick and sing. They would travel all over singing and picking for the Lord.
In the mean time my dad would be introduced to the works of Dr. Peter Ruckman through a guy at work and began ordering some of his preaching, teaching, and books through the mail. It was through Dr. Ruckman’s ministry that I first remember experiencing the conviction of the Holy Spirit of God. It was also through Dr. Ruckman’s ministry that my dad got the touch of God to write songs.
Although my dad and his family were King James Bible believers before they ever heard of Dr. Ruckman, because of the plain teaching and preaching of Dr. Ruckman, my dad would fall in love with that “Blessed Ole’ Book” and begin to read and study IT (not just commentaries) as the book commands us to (2 Tim. 2:15). With the scriptures in his heart they began to come out in songs. Although my dad had played music all of his life he had never dreamed of writing a song.
It was through the preaching of Dr. Ruckman and the songs that my dad was writing that the Lord would bring me under conviction. My dad would get a song from the Lord, like “Do You Know How It Feels” or “Either Him Or Me” and would sit me down and sing it to me. I would be under such conviction that all I could do was try to ignore it or sit there and tremble. Although I was under such conviction that I would lay awake at night afraid to fall asleep, I was too stubborn to repent and ask Christ to save me. I was too embarrassed and more concerned with what those around me thought than what the Lord thought about me. When preachers would ask, during the invitation, for those who were saved to raise their hands, I would raise my hand knowing that I wasn’t saved and too embarrassed to admit that I was a sinner who needed Christ.
On Mother’s Day in 1988 my dad was singing at a Church in Flint, MI. During the invitation, he sang a song (which he didn’t write) that said, “Jesus Is Right For Whatever’s Wrong In Your Life.” My cousin, who was visiting with us from College in New Mexico, went forward and got saved. I just stood there with the classic sweaty palms gripping the back of the pew and weeping. I didn’t get saved that morning. However, that night, in the evening service at our church (the Free Will Baptist Chapel in Madison Heights, Michigan) I didn’t hear anything the preacher said only what the Holy Ghost was saying to my heart. I was under such conviction that all I could think about was dying and going to Hell.
When the preacher was done preaching and the invitation was given I couldn’t hold out any longer and went to the altar, and at the age of thirteen I got saved! I was even baptized that night. It was soon after that, my dad would get the doctrine about the eternal security of the believer straight and write the song, “The Blood Is Still There.”
I would soon pick up the bass guitar and begin to play with my dad in church. We soon formed the band Sound Doctrine and began traveling all over the Eastern United States singing in local independent Baptist churches. It was in these meetings that the Lord began to deal with me about preaching his Word. Being pretty shy and not very good at speaking in public I couldn’t believe the Lord was dealing with me to preach. It just proves that God chooses the “base things” (1 Cor. 1:28).
After I finally surrendered to God and turned my life completely over to Him I began taking some bible courses through Charity Baptist Bible Institute in Dayton, OH. I eventually got married to my lovely wife, Christa, and the Lord has blessed us with four beautiful children, Kayla, Rebekah, Joshua and Emily Nell. After traveling for over thirteen years in many different churches and circles with Sound Doctrine, we have made many wonderful friends in the ministry. I wouldn’t trade serving the Lord with them for anything. The Lord has allowed us to do a small part in the ministry of Victory Baptist Church and train under Pastor Nogalski for the past ten years. We look forward to what the Lord has in store for the future.