Mel Trotter was converted, on January 19, 1897, 10 minutes past 9. On that day he staggered into the Pacific Garden Mission so drunk that he didn’t even know his own name.
Trotter was born in 1870, to a godly mother and a father who was a drunkard. His dad was an alcoholic bar tender. Mel followed in those footsteps. He couldn’t keep a job. He committed burglary … and was hospitalised to help him overcome his craving, but to no avail.
Even though he was a hopeless alcoholic at age 20, a good woman – Lottie Fisher – married him (23 April, 1891) and suffered greatly under his neglect and addiction.
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Following one of his ten-day drinking sprees, Trotter returned home to find his two-year-old son dead in Lottie’s arms. Filled with remorse he promised his wife never to touch another drop of alcohol. But “Two hours after the funeral he staggered home … drunk.”
At the age of 27, in a Chicago winter, Trotted decided to kill himself. As he walked toward Lake Michigan to plunge into the icy waters, he passed the Pacific Garden Mission and was pulled inside to hear its superintendent, Harry Monroe, himself a converted alcoholic, giving his personal testimony of deliverance from booze.
When Harry Monroe called for a response to the Gospel, Mel Trotter raised his hand and went forward for prayer. Christ laid hold of his life and changed it. Once Trotter gained victory over alcohol he took as his favourite text, 2Corinthians 5:17: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature”.
Three years after his conversion Trotter was privileged to supervise a new rescue mission in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Trotter was superintendent for 40 years and saw the new mission expand to cater for 750 men.
Among the many triumphs he saw was the closure of the hotel next door to the mission, due to lack of business, and the establishment of 67 other rescue missions across the nation. Trotter also became an evangelist, and was ordained to the Presbyterian ministry in 1905.
Trotter’s powerful testimony caught much attention and he was often asked to share it at meetings for RA Torrey and Bill Sunday, during their revival campaigns. He also preached at Moody’s Northfield Bible Conference 28 times, and spoke in 54 YMCA camps during World War I.
His biographer tells us that Mel Trotter was “responsible for thousands finding Christ…”
Suffering from cancer, Trotter last preached at the Grand Rapids Mission on its 40th anniversary in January 1940, at the age of 70. He died later that year.
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This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com