Mel Trotter was an alcoholic. Again and again he promised his wife that he would give up drink for good. Once he managed to stay dry for eleven and a half weeks. At the end, thirst overcame him. He squandered his horse to pay for a round of drinks. He reached the point that he committed burglary to feed his awful habit. His wife and child suffered terribly for his sin.
They had only the one child. The boy was about two years old when Mel came home after a drinking spree. "I went home after a ten-day drunk and found him dead in his mother's arms. I'll never forget that day. I was a slave, and I knew it. It pretty nearly broke my heart. I said, 'I'm a murderer. I'm anything but a man. I can't stand it, and I won't stand it! I'll end my life." But he didn't have the courage to do it because he feared God's judgment.
He put his arms around his wife and swore on the baby's coffin that he'd never touch another drop. Two hours after the funeral, he staggered home blind drunk.
On this day, January 19, 1897, Mel Trotter made the decision to kill himself. Drunk, he staggered through Chicago, determined to throw himself into the freezing waters of Lake Michigan. Unable to break his habit, unable to keep his promises, he wanted to die.
Mel's progress brought him past the door of the Pacific Garden Mission. Harry Monroe, who himself had been an alcoholic, was leading singing. As the doorman helped Mel in, Monroe stopped to pray for Mel. "O God, Save that poor, poor boy," he pleaded.
Monroe told the audience of his own past and how Christ had delivered him from alcohol. Mel listened and believed. That night, he answered Monroe's invitation to make room for God in his life. Monroe explained that Jesus loved him and would change him.
And that is what Jesus did. Asked later how he knew he was saved, Mel replied, "I was there when it happened, January 19, 1897, 10 minutes past 9, Central time, Pacific Garden Mission, Chicago, Illinois, USA."
Three years later, Mel Trotter was asked to head a rescue work in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He went on to found a chain of missions throughout the United States to help men like himself who could not escape the slavery of alcoholism.
- Henry, Carl F. H. The Pacific Garden Mission. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1942.
- "Mel Trotter." Sword of the Lord Biographies. http://www.swordofthelord.com/biographies/trotter.htm
- "Our History." Mel Trotter Mission. http://www.meltrotter.org/history.shtml
Last updated June, 2007