Evangelist makes return, preaches to students

John Duncan, evangelist, preaches on campus Dec. 6. He has preaches on 93 campuses in 33 states, according to his Web site.

John Duncan, evangelist, preaches on campus Dec. 6. He has preaches on 93 campuses in 33 states, according to his Web site.

Auriel Brown

Fornication, adultery and drunkenness are just a few of several issues yelled out at students as they headed for class Dec. 6 and Dec. 7.

At the Oval, students were greeted by a Christian evangelist with the message about the lives students lead and the consequences if they choose not to change.

He calls himself “Gospel John.” Making annual appearances on the campus of Missouri Southern, John Duncan comes with the intention of enlightening students on religion and sin.

Duncan said his reason for coming to Southern are necessary.

“Why do I go to college campuses?” Duncan said. “Because the Bible tells me so.”

Many students stopped to engage in debates with him while others either watched or continued on to their destinations.

Duncan said he was not at all bothered by many of the negative responses he received from some of the students.

“I’ve not come here today to turn you on or turn you off, I’ve come here to speak the truth and let the chips fall as they may,” Duncan said. “If you don’t want to hear it, that’s your choice.”

The Atlanta native who spreads his message to campuses across the country, said he once engaged in the same sinful activities many college students do today. Then he said he received God’s calling.

“Brother John has not always been this way,” Duncan said. “Brother John use to be a beer guzzling, sexually perverted, rock and roll freak.”

He told the students they needed to be saved and repent for their sins in order to enter the gates of Heaven.

“The more I testify in the light of God, it’s going to turn most people off,” Duncan said.

He said one of his worst hecklers eventually took heed to his words.

“He would take his clothes off and do all kinds of vile things as I preached,” Duncan said. “Four years later, he called me back up; got some kind of deadly illness and wanted to get born again.”

Many students disagreed with Duncan’s method and some said it was a misrepresentation of Christianity.

“I think he’s telling good people that they’re going to Hell and that’s not how you convert people,” said Rachel Shelton, freshman biology major. “If I were out here preaching Islam, they’d kick me off campus.”

Shelton said just because Christians are widely accepted, one should not be allowed to stand and yell at everyone.

Madison Poiry, freshman elementary education major, said his message could be more effective if he preached where his method is more accepted.

Ken Kennedy, manager of the Department of Public Safety, said there have been situations in the past in which instigation on Gospel John’s part has led to students being restrained from violent retaliation.

“We monitor him, we video tape and make sure that he’s not causing a riot or being overly demeaning to students,” Kennedy said.

There were some area residents who came out to listen to Gospel John’s message and fully accepted his mission.

“He’s trying to reinforce scripture, and in today’s world preachers aren’t preaching against sin nearly as hard as Jesus did,” said Mark Lowrey of Joplin.

Lowrey said students should embrace Gospel John’s message instead of turning away.

“When people go out and repeat the word of Jesus they’re not sinning, they’re not doing something wrong,” said Lowrey. “Not everybody has the gift to go out and preach.”

Some saw flaws in Duncan himself.

“My problem is he’s fat, and gluttony is a sin,” Poiry said. “He’s killing himself with calories.”

Poiry said Duncan needs to acknowledge no individual is perfect.

“Sin is nature, everybody’s going to sin,” Poiry said.

Duncan said to get a full understanding of his work students should visit www.gospeljohn.com.