By Morgan Bryce
Giving military veterans, first responders and law enforcement officers a chance to take a reprieve from their demanding jobs and grow closer to God are the goals of Warriors’ Rest, an umbrella program of the Tommy Tuberville Foundation.
According to WR Founder Jonathan Duncan, his ministry’s message is tailored to Matthew 11:28-30, an appeal from Jesus Christ to those with heavy burdens to come find rest in Him and replenish their souls.
An Army veteran, former worship pastor and Opelika Police Department officer, Duncan said he uses his background to build rapport with others, provide an environment to experience God on a deeper level and form lifelong relationships. “One thing a buddy of mine told me a while back stuck: ‘where you need to go to serve; as God develops you, He shows you who you need to serve,’” Duncan said. “I love people. There’s nothing I enjoy more than helping someone discover the real reason why they’re on this earth. My desire is to not only help people know God in a deeper way but to provide an environment for them to determine what He is saying and how they should respond.” According to Duncan, his blend of life experiences led him to forging Warrior’s Rest last year.
During a deployment to Iraq in 2006, close friend and comrade Sgt. David Herrera died in the line of duty. Duncan said he believes that the boxing up of grief and tragedy, along with a lack of purpose, are key contributors in the rising numbers of suicide among America’s military personnel and first responders.
Currently, the ministry’s format features a monthly two week retreat for Duncan and program participants to dive into intensive Bible studies, prayer times and musical praise. There is also a six-month follow up process so that no one gets left behind.
Held in a remote location on Lake Martin, Duncan said they value the “privacy of (their) participants and the solitude provides the perfect opportunity for closeness and ability to worship God without distraction.”
“We go through a Christ-centered curriculum, and because we do it for two weeks, there’s nothing else to do but place God first. We get to praise God through music … I play guitar and lead a short worship service right where we are,” Duncan said. “People have asked me, ‘hey man, you leading worship anymore?’ And I say, ‘yeah man, just on a different platform.” Duncan, who also serves as a chaplain at Opelika’s Global K9 Protection Group, said he is in the process of turning Warriors’ Rest into a 501c3 nonprofit and one day hopes to be involved with the ministry on a full-time basis.
“My goal is to have a physical location for Warriors’ Rest, with full-fledged counseling services provided through a fully Biblical approach. That is the only way we can truly make a difference, using it as our foundation,” Duncan said.
Duncan, a member of the Opelika branch of Church of the Highlands, expressed his gratitude to his wife Katherine, as well as the support of Beallwood Baptist Church, Church at the Crossing in Dothan, Tapestry Community Church and Act6missions in Roswell, Georgia, First Choice Personnel of Gadsden and Lee County’s Flags for Vets.
For more information, email Duncan at Jonathan@tommytubervillefoundation.org, visit www.tommytubervillefoundation.org/warriors or like and follow the organization’s Facebook page.