David Daniell, missionary who advanced evangelism to Spanish-speaking peoples through radio ministry, dies at age 83

David Daniell, a missionary who used his love of radio to advance evangelism to Spanish-speaking people groups throughout Mexico and Central America, died Jan. 26 of COVID-related pneumonia. He was 83.

A native of Texas, Daniell made public his call to missions as a teenager. His early passion for radio also was evident when, as a child, he would use a broomstick as a microphone.

He earned degrees from Texas A&M and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, all while working in radio and occasionally TV broadcasting.

Daniell and his wife, Lorna, met while she was a missions volunteer in Corpus Christi, Texas. They were appointed as missionaries to Mexico in 1966 by the Foreign Mission Board (now the International Mission Board). He served as a media specialist and media consultant for Central America. He soon set up a studio above the Baptist Book Store in downtown Mexico City and began producing programs in Spanish.

Spanish-language programs

Daniell wrote and produced hundreds of radio programs in Spanish which were broadcast in Mexico and Central America. Programs included Bible dramas, Bible studies, doctrinal spots and videos about cholera and alcoholism. He also taught future pastors how to use media effectively and produced videos of professors teaching classes at the “Seminario Teológico Bautista Mexicano” for use in extension classes.

In 1976 the IMB asked Daniell to write the adult Mission Study book featuring student work in Mexico. The “Jesus Movement” was in full swing and coffee houses were popular.  He named the book “Stronger than Mushrooms” declaring Jesus is more powerful than getting high on drugs.  He also authored the manual, “The Missionary Radio Station — an Electronic John the Baptist.”

In 1987, Daniell was sent “on loan” from Mexico for a year to help the Guatemalan Mission set up the first Foreign Mission Board-funded radio station in this hemisphere.

Radio K’ekchi went on the air from Fray Bartolomé de la Casas in Alta Verapaz in March 1988. Then came “Radio Bautista” in Managua, Nicaragua. Others followed, broadcasting in many indigenous Mayan and Caribbean dialects.

When Mexico banned Christian radio and TV programs, Daniell found a new way to use radio. He produced spots with jingles and bought time advertising Family Life Conferences, which he organized. Choirs were brought down from the U.S. to participate. These conferences resulted in many conversions and three new churches being formed.

Still on mission

Upon retirement in 2003, Daniell formed “Missionary Broadcasting, Inc.,” a  nonprofit based in Mobile, which allowed him to continue to help struggling Christian stations in Mexico, Central and South America and Texas.

He worked with 23 radio stations to provide them with programming materials and enlisted and accompanied volunteer engineers to go repair or replace equipment, repair and strengthen towers and teach computer skills. In 2019, Missionary Broadcasting helped launch “Radio Solo Uno,” which streams 24/7 on the internet and reaches Spanish speakers all over the world. Daniell’s programs are still being broadcast on more than 60 stations today.

Daniell is survived by Lorna, his wife of more than 60 years; son, Forrest (Emma); daughter, Rebecca; and seven grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. at Dayspring Baptist Church, Mobile.

Memorial donations can be made to Missionary Broadcasting, Inc., 7401 Wesley Ct., Mobile, AL  36695.

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