In memoriam: Missionary emeritus David W. King Sr., 97

David W. King Sr., 1925-2022. IMB Photo

David W. King Sr., an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in Lebanon, died Sept. 27, 2022, in Jefferson, Texas. He was 97.   

David was born May 3, 1925, in Buchanan, Michigan, to the late Charles L. King and Jeanne Lutz King. He graduated from West Orange High School in West Orange, New Jersey. He received the Bachelor of Arts from Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas, and the Bachelor of Divinity and the Doctor of Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. 

After graduating from high school, David worked for Hanovia Chemical and Manufacturing Company in Newark, New Jersey, before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. He served as a mechanic and maintenance inspector for the Air Force in Honolulu, Hawaii.  

He wrote in his letter seeking missionary appointment that the Lord spoke to him about foreign missions while he was training at a military gunnery school in Texas. While at training, he met three people who were preparing to move to Mexico as missionaries. 

“Their testimonies of how the Lord had worked in their lives to raise their vision to the regions beyond struck a responsive chord in my heart,” King wrote. “When they showed me that it was not fair that so many here in our wonderful country should hear the gospel over and over again while there were so many millions who were dying in sin while waiting for someone to come to tell them the way of life, I said in my heart, ‘Lord, this is it. I know now what you want me to do, and with your help, I will do it.” 

While stationed in Hawaii, David met Claudie “Maxine” Steele King at an evangelistic street service. They married in 1946.  

In 1946, David began studying at Howard Payne University. 

He served as the pastor of Angus Baptist Church in Corsicana, Texas, and later served as the pastor of Star Baptist Church in Star, Texas. He worked as an inspector for Chance Vought Aircraft Corporation in Dallas, Texas. He then pastored First Baptist Church, Keller, Texas.  

In 1959, the Foreign Mission Board (now the International Mission Board) appointed the Kings as missionaries to Lebanon, where they served for 30 years. 

David was passionate about seminary education.  

“We feel a conviction in our hearts that the mission work of today must be carried on by dedicated and well-trained national Christians. For this reason, we are vitally interested in the establishment of a seminary or training school for nationals,” David wrote. 

David taught New Testament and pastoral studies at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary. He pioneered Christian radio ministry in the Middle East and served as the studio director for the Baptist Recording Studio in Beirut. He also organized evangelistic efforts across the region.  

The Kings served in Lebanon during a tumultuous 12 years of war and were some of the last Americans to leave Beirut during the civil war. 

After he retired, he taught at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas, and made frequent trips back to the Middle East to teach seminary classes for local pastors. He continued teaching online into his 90s. He was active at the First Baptist Church of Marshall.  

David is survived by Maxine, his wife of 76 years; sons David W. King, Jr. (Sherry) and Jonathan C. King (Loi Beth); daughter Jeanne Yates (Russell); six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.  

A celebration of life service was held Oct. 1, 2022, at First Baptist Church in Marshall.  

Read an obituary here.