David, (The Tamil Evangelist) is Coming. India’s First Missionary to America. Highly recommended by D.L. Moody, and one of the speakers at Northfield this year [handbill caption title].
David a.k.a. Vathakunu Deresegayam David or “Tamil David” in Massachusetts
Handbill promoting lectures by David (1853-1923), “The Tamil Evangelist,” who was to speak at the Wellington Street Free Baptist Church in Worcester, Massachusetts on September 5, 1897. Here called “India’s First Missionary to America,” David was an associate of Holiness Movement evangelist Dwight L. Moody (1837–1899).
David, also known as Vathakunu Deresegayam David or “Tamil David,” is here recommended to the public as one of the speakers at Moody’s hometown of Northfield, Massachusetts. A few days prior to David’s two lectures in Worcester, he had spoken in Northfield at the Fifteenth General Conference for Christian Workers organized by Moody. A contemporary newspaper article on the Northfield Conference reported that “V. D. David, the Tamil evangelist from India, spoke again this afternoon …It is said that ten thousand people have been converted under his preaching.”¹
Prior to coming to America, David was an evangelist in Sri Lanka, India, Australia, and Great Britain. “Tamil David was born in Tirunelveli District of Tamil Nadu state into an Anglican (Episcopal) family. His father, a mission worker, died when he was two and he moved to Sri Lanka at the age of sixteen where he learned Sinhalese and worked as a self-employed (and totally untrained) English teacher and later an ‘accountant’ in a liquor business. ... After his conversion, through the influence of his wife, Mary, he became a catechist associated with the Anglican Church Missionary Society. An 1897 report described him as a ‘celebrated preacher in India’ and ‘an Indian Whitefield or Spurgeon.’ He was also described in an American newspaper as ‘the Moody of India.’”²
Description: David, (The Tamil Evangelist) is Coming. India’s First Missionary to America. Highly recommended by D.L. Moody, and one of the speakers at Northfield this year [handbill caption title].
[Worcester, Massachusetts]: O.B. Wood, Printer, 50 Foster Street (1897). p. Handbill. 8½ x 5½ inches. Folds; very good.
Note. 1. TAMIL DAVID, The Tamil Evangelist. “Vathakunu Deresegayam David,” (V.D. “Eye of faith, God helps”) accessed online. 2. Ibid.