A Happy Childhood in Spite of Being “The Big Kid” in School
Tony Duncan grew up an only child in a loving family in the town of Pleasanton near the San Francisco Bay area. Tony says he had the greatest parents in the world, and he knew they loved him without them even having to say it. They taught him discipline and hard work, along with independence and self-sufficiency. As a young man he was always active in both sports and helping the family raise cattle.
He explains, “Despite an amazing upbringing, I remember always being the ‘big kid’ in class. Because of my weight, I usually ended up being the heaviest kid on the youngest team, or the youngest kid playing with children much older. I didn’t know what food-focus was back then. Before I was in high school, I can remember once eating an entire 3-1/2 pound tub of licorice in one day. Another time I ate a 5 pound bag of my favorite candy in a weekend. Both situations were in addition to other meals and snacks.”
Over-Drinking Led to Hopelessness
After Tony entered college, he started drinking, and then over-drinking. Because of these wrong choices, his life progressively got worse and worse. “I even considered ending my life several times. I never took action on the thoughts, but they were there nonetheless.”
In 2006, Tony met his wife Nicole, and they were married the following year. During their dating time and into the first two years of their marriage, they “church-hopped.” They visited many denominations of all different sizes from mega-churches where we got lost in the crowd and didn’t feel like they belonged, to the small local corner church.
Looking for Answers in “Church” But Coming Up Empty
“We were looking for answers and finding none. We would always feel good for a day after the service, but then feel miserable again right away. One of the churches had a great ‘newly married’ class that met every week and discussed how to build strong, lasting marriages. Instead, it turned out to be a class where everyone complained about their spouses.
“We later found out that the current teachers of the class had taken on the roll because the previous teachers had just gotten divorced! We debated if we wanted to raise children in a world of so much pain and hopelessness. We saw a lot of ‘production,’ but no changed lives. Our lives were changing…but for the worse. We were lost and searching.”
Finally, a Church with Answers, Truth & Real Change!
It was in 2009 after moving from California and then living in Houston, Texas that Tony’s brother-in-law and sister-in-law Rob and Tiffani Day had taken an East Coast road trip with a stop in Nashville. Through a set of circumstances, God had their families living together under one roof. When they returned, the Days shared all they had seen and heard from their trip including a visit to Remnant Fellowship Church.
“I was initially turned off because I didn’t understand why they were so excited about a new church in another state, but I could tell that they were. At that point and still to this day, I looked up to Rob as a mentor. Rob and Tiffani spoke of meeting individuals and families who had genuine born again lives as a direct result from what they were being taught and put into practice at the church. Was this what I had been looking for? I was intrigued, to say the least. So, Rob and I spent many hours each night for weeks researching and checking out this growing movement called “Remnant Fellowship.” Bottom line, the only thing I figured out as factual in all our research is that what is taught at Remnant Fellowship is absolute Truth from the Bible:
You could have a whole new life.
There are blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience.
You can have joy and peace in any situation.
You can really love others more than yourself.
You can have a genuine, personal relationship with God.
A Remnant Wedding Changed Everything
“If all of that were true, I thought we’d be fools not to jump in! My first visit was for a Remnant wedding in December 2009. I was blown away! Just hearing the couple read their vows of commitment they had written for each other, I realized I had heard more Truth in a matter of minutes than any hour-long church service I had attended. Their love for God was mind-blowing. Shortly after, we became members in June of 2010 and moved to Brentwood in December of 2010 to be near the families of Remnant Fellowship including Rob and Tiffani who are leaders in the church to become part of a beautiful extended church family.
Tony says prior to Remnant Fellowship, his life was a mess. When he and Nicole were newlyweds, they lived in a two story house. They each took a floor to live in and never saw each other. In addition to over-drinking, he had a lot of anger.
A Happy Marriage & No More Over-Drinking or Sports Addiction
“We were miserable and only getting worse. Now because of what I’ve learned and put into practice from Remnant Fellowship, I love my wife more, and I tell her all the time. She is my best blessing from God and I don’t deserve her. We enjoy spending time together. I want to love her as Christ loved the church. I joyfully give up my life to make her happy and lead our family on the straight and narrow road.”
In addition, Tony learned how to be completely done with over-drinking. His heart changed so much that he can now have a drink and not even feel the need or desire to over-drink. This change allows him to continue to serve and meet the needs of his family whereas before, drinking was an opportunity to space out. Tony used to get outwardly angry when he didn’t get his way or when plans changed.
“I used to spend hours watching sports on the weekend and neglecting my family, and my mood was either up or down depending on if my team won or lost. Now, I could care less about the games. I still enjoy watching if I get the opportunity, but my life doesn’t center around it anymore. I don’t clear my schedule to watch a game and my mood isn’t affected by the outcome of the game.
Life of Purpose, Intention & God’s Agenda
“Now, I look for God’s lead in all things—my marriage, how we raise our children, how I approach my work day. I want to go where He wants me to go and do what He wants me to do. We’ve been taught how to make God’s agenda, our agenda and to find His purpose and plan in all things. It’s so much more fun and productive than the plans I make for myself. The hours I formerly spent in frustration and anger are now are now full of purpose, clarity and joy. I thoroughly enjoy getting to take care of my family and the needs of others.”
Before Remnant Fellowship, Tony and Nicole debated whether or not to even have children. Now, they have two amazing boys – Seth age 8 and Ethan age 5. “We have so much hope for the future. We’ve been taught how to raise our children up in righteousness and how to genuinely have lives of purpose. As a result, our boys love God and love their parents. Our conversations are full of meaning —talking about what God is teaching us and the answered prayers from the day. Church is not at all a drudgery. In fact, the highlights of our week is going to church and other fellowship times .”
In addition to having a healed marriage, Tony has lost weight by following the principles of Weigh Down. His first class was Weigh Down Advanced in 2010. “I didn’t take the class to lose weight because I didn’t think I had any weight to lose. But I wanted to dig into the scriptures. In the first 4 weeks of class, I lost 33 pounds and it’s been off ever since! This is my favorite class and I would recommend it for anyone.”
The other resources that have changed Tony’s life is the sermon The Power of The Ring, which describes how real the spiritual warfare is and how satan and his forces are trying so hard to get you off track. He also loves Divine Forgiveness because it describes how even in the most painful and torturous of situations, Jesus could look down from the cross and pray for forgiveness of those who had just put him up there because he was focused on God and doing His will.
He loves reading the Bible with his family along with Gwen Shamblin’s books like Rise Above, The Tablet, and The History of the Love of God. Finally, the incredible Remnant music is essential in helping Tony stay focused on God. “All it takes is one of the literally hundreds of amazing songs this message has produced, and it totally changes the direction of my day!”
Watch Tony share his testimony on the You Can Overcome Show with Gwen Shamblin, Tedd Anger and Marci Carter: