John Day was born in Virginia 1797.
John Day was the first African American appointed by the Southern Baptist Conventions Foreign Missions Board (SBC).
He was ordained a Baptist minister in 1821 and had hopes of ministering in Haiti but could not garner enough support among Virginia Baptists. In 1830, he migrated to Liberia to minister and was appointed by the Triennial Convention’s Baptist Board of Foreign Missions shortly after. In 1844, John Day resigned from the Triennial Convention post. He was then appointed by the SBC and given the lead of their ministry in Liberia.He was a missionary to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Central Africa and is known as a founding father of Liberia because he signed its Declaration of Independence and became the Republic’s chief justice.
Within one year of his family’s arrival in Liberia, his wife and his 5 children died. John Day spent 13 years in Africa and preached to more than 10,000 people during his ministry. In 1856 he founded Day’s Hope, a high school and seminary intended to train African boys as missionaries to their own people. John Day died on February 15, 1859, and on his deathbed, when asked how he was feeling, said these words –
“If I speak with regard to the union subsisting between me and Christ, I am well.”