David Day was born in England in 1922. During World War II, he worked in a factory making precision instruments for aeroplanes in North London. On September 24, 1941, at the age of 19, God called him to the ministry of preaching. During his spare time, he worked as a local preacher.
When the war ended, he studied at Faith Mission Bible College in Edinburgh in preparation for full-time work. Later, while in London, he met a young Chinese student by the name of Esther Ts’ui. Through her, he decided to join the West China Evangelistic Band and set sail for Western Szechuan, China in 1947.
In China, Day learned the local language quickly and had a successful ministry among students. In 1949, when the Communists took over Szechuan, he left the Band and joined China Inland Mission (CIM) at Chungking. He was among the CIM missionaries who were arrested and detained by the new Communist government, and he spent seven weeks in prison. Day had met and married his wife Phyllis in Chungking in June 1951. Later that year, when all foreign missionaries were expelled, both managed to return to England.
In 1953, they set sail for Malaya with their first-born child, Miriam. The Days were assigned to work in the New Villages of Bukit Siput and Cha’ah. Using a phonograph, they carried out evangelism with gospel messages in Hakka, Cantonese and Hokkien. Their son, Jimmy, and second daughter, Joy, were born in the New Village. The couple helped to build up the Cha’ah church to be self-supporting and self-propagating before they returned to England for furlough in 1957.
On their return, they were posted to a church in Serdang in Selangor. After a year, David Day took over as Superintendent of South Malaya when Percy Moore suffered a heart attack. In November 1963, Day took over as principal of the two-year-old Rawang Christian Training Centre (RCTC). Over the next nine years, he enjoyed the challenge of teaching the Bible to poor students with little education from New Villages. He also taught them livestock rearing and cash crop farming to subsidise their tuition fees. The students underwent a two- to three-year course, and many returned to their villages to become pastors or Bible teachers.
The Days were assisted in their busy schedule by several other Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF) missionaries. In August 1972, RCTC was renamed the Malaysian Christian Training Centre (MCTC). There were three streams of Chinese classes; Shirley Woo was the resident teacher with many other visiting lecturers. When David and Phyllis returned to England in December 1977, Malaysianisation was proceeding rapidly. The MCTC was closed temporarily when no local Chinese was prepared to take over as principal.
Back home, David Day took up a three-year course in psychology at Warwick University. While there, he was instrumental in starting the Coventry Chinese Christian Fellowship which later became a church. After graduation, he spent 11 years working with the Chinese Overseas Christian Mission (COCM), building up the Chinese student fellowships. He was a speaker at many COCM conferences and even travelled to China in 1993.
Day retired in 1992 with signs of a neurological illness setting in. He was called home to the Lord on December 31, 1995. It could be said of Day, in Keith Ranger’s words, there was “no one like him” which was how Paul described Timothy. No one like him who took a genuine interest in others, no one like him who looked to the things of Jesus Christ and no one like him who served tirelessly in the work of the gospel.
- ^ Adapted from Phyllis Day, “A Short Summary of the Life of David Day, 1922–1995,” private letter.