“He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today”, this is the hymn that David Toong sang every day. He felt that God had been good to him in his life and he tried to show his gratitude by obeying him and following his teachings.
Born in 1895, David Toong lived to the age of 103. He studied at Trinity College (now Fuzhou Foreign Language School), at the time considered the best Christian school in Fuzhou, Fujian. He completed the 8-year course at Trinity in only 4 years and was offered a special scholarship by the Faculty to study at St. John’s University in Shanghai. He earned his Bachelor’s degree with honors in only two years instead of 4 years. Upon graduation, he was invited by his Alma Mater to teach at Trinity College. In 1919, he was made the first Chinese and youngest Principal of the school to succeed the Founder from England, who thought it was time to give Chinese people control of the institution. (the school later produced many well-known Christian leaders such as Watchman Nee [Ni Tuosheng], Wang Zai, James Song [Song Xuelian] and Bishop Michael Chang, [Zhang Guangxu] et al.)
Years later, he ventured to explore Peking (Beijing), the cultural center of China. Shortly, he became the head of two high schools and two evening schools concurrently. Knowing of his records as head of the four schools, in 1930 the Board of Peking College elected him to be President of the College, the youngest in its history.
With a keen desire for further education, he went in 1933 to Harvard University for his PhD degree. While a student there, he also worked as an executive director of the Chinese YMCA. As a student leader there, he gave lectures and sponsored numerous Chinese cultural programs, promoting closer friendship between Chinese and Americans. As he was concurrently the president of Chinese Student Christian Association of North America, President of Harvard Chinese Student Association, and Chairman of Greater Boston Chinese Student Association, he gave lectures at universities and sponsored dinners to raise funds for the much-needed medical relief for China during the Japanese invasion war. Dr. Karl Compton, formerly President of M.I.T., told him he was wondering how David could achieve so much as student and social leader while studying at Harvard and working at the “Y”.
Because of his leadership in New England, he was elected Chairman of the Chinese Students National Conference in 1935. Three years later, he became the General Secretary of the C.S.C.A., with headquarters in New York to serve the 3,000-plus Chinese students in the U.S. and Canada. He was invited by then President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the White House for his work and contributions. During those years, most Chinese students had heard and respected the name “Toong”.
After study and research into the teachings of different religions, such as Confucianism and Buddhism, and the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Locke, and others, in 1945, at age 50, his childhood faith in Christ was transformed as he experienced rebirth and full conviction that Jesus Christ was the only living God and his Savior. His faith became stronger as the years went by. After retiring from educational work in 1960, he devoted his time to lecturing, preaching and teaching in churches and seminars in Boston, Massachusetts; Newark, New Jersey; Tampa, Florida; Manteca, California; Hong Kong; and various other locations. Papers written by him afforded powerful and effective witness to his Christian faith. He said he was always cheerful because, he said, he had found the only true living God and the Lord Jesus Christ. His friends and family thought that his life exemplified the true humility and meekness of Christ.