David Ng Kong Lam was born in Klang, Selangor on March 20, 1919 and attended the Klang Anglo Chinese primary school. When he was 10, he joined the Sunday school at Klang Gospel Hall where the superintendent and teacher, Mr Lim Chin Kheng, was also his headmaster.
When David entered secondary school, his father, who was a hawker by day and a fruit seller by night, could not afford the $4 school fees and he had to stop schooling. When his headmaster heard about it, he advised David to ask God for help. After a few days, Lim not only obtained a scholarship for David but also got used books for him as well. On top of that, Lim also asked him to be the Klang Gospel Hall caretaker at a princely sum of $4 a month!
David met many foreign missionaries and local leaders whose dedication, humility and faithfulness as well as care and concern for lost souls convinced him to trust the Lord. He was baptised in Klang Gospel Hall in 1936 at the age of 17. It was then that the elders persuaded him to join them as an elder. He felt inadequate due to his age but they advised him to trust God to prepare him for the solemn responsibility.
David's father, Ng Eng Yen, came from China as a young boy and heard the gospel from New Zealand missionaries Mr and Mrs E.V. Brewerton. Eng Yen was a chain smoker, opium addict and idol worshipper. He, his wife (a nyonya or Straits-born Chinese from Penang), and his mother-in-law received the gospel with much joy and wanted to be baptised. But Brewerton told Eng Yen that he had to get rid of his bad habits first. Eng Yen was changed completely, giving up his bad habits, and all three were baptised. In 1940, Eng Yen became an elder of Klang Gospel Hall.
In December 1941, the Japanese invaded Malaya. During this period, single, able-bodied young men were conscripted by the Japanese to construct the infamous 415km “Death Railway” stretching from Thailand to Burma (present-day Myanmar). In order to avoid conscription, David was match-made with Lee Beng Kwee and they were married on June 2, 1942. They had 11 children – three boys and eight girls.
Klang Gospel Hall went through tough times during the Japanese occupation. David, together with the other believers, continued to preach boldly and pray fervently for protection and safety despite the strict Japanese regulations. Missionaries from Britain and Australia faithfully and fearlessly stayed in the country and helped the Klang assembly work together with the local pioneers – Mr Ma Tham Shun, Mr Chew Tian Fong, Mr Chew Shiu Swee, Dr G.D. James and Mr Lim Chin Kheng.
Others who played a pivotal role in the development of the assembly during those years were Ng Eng Yen and his son, David. The Lord saw the church through those difficult years and it came out stronger. After the war, Mr Goh Keng Siew, Mr and Mrs Chellappah Abishegam, David, and many other faithful brethren worked diligently to spread the gospel in Klang and the surrounding areas. David, now an elder in his 20s, started to work alongside the missionaries and, being fluent in English, often served as their interpreter, translating sermons from English to Hokkien and Mandarin.
He helped the Chinese and English assemblies at Klang, Port Klang and Jenjarom New Village. He preached, taught, did visitation, counselled, and cared for the spiritual and physical needs of the handicapped and destitute. He was always eager to serve the Lord and ready to help anyone in whatever circumstance.
After spending 41 years in secular work, David was commended to full-time service on June 21, 1978 at the age of 59 until 2003. The Lord supplied all his needs from the faithful monthly pledges of loving brothers and sisters in the assemblies.
As the longest serving elder in Klang Gospel Hall, David was able to see the church grow in leaps and bounds over the years. The young people of the late 1940s and early 1950s had now become responsible young adults and began to take on greater responsibility. With the able guidance of Mr Tom Watt, Mr Chellappah, David and later Dr Alastair McGregor, the church grew into a vibrant community. A Tamil ministry was started in 2002 and soon, a Tamil assembly was established. The work was then transferred to Bethany Chapel with the support of the other assemblies. Klang Gospel Hall’s small dilapidated wooden church, which was built in 1911 and withstood two world wars, was demolished in 1989 to make way for a new three-storey building.
During his time, David was able to see the church grow and establish other assemblies in and around Klang namely: Jenjarom Gospel Hall (1953), Port Klang Gospel Hall (1979), Klang Jaya Gospel Hall (1998), and Setia Alam Gospel Assembly (2010).
Through the years, David remained a steadfast and faithful servant who saw the hand of God in every chapter of his life – from triumphs and trials to tragedies. From his poverty-stricken early years and through the war, the Lord was his Redeemer, Provider and Comforter.
The Lord called David’s wife, Beng Kwee, home on September 4, 2006 at the age of 85, and David on July 5, 2015 at the age of 96.
Dr G.D. James, the first commended full-time worker of Klang Gospel Hall in December 1941, once referred to David as “elder, shepherd and encourager.” Such was the legacy he left behind for the assembly and family members.
Today, David’s children and their spouses, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are serving the Lord in various capacities in Malaysia and abroad and also in Brethren assembly ministries.