James Chalmers




James Chalmers was born in Scotland, the land which gave the world such romantic names as Robert Moffat, David Livingstone, John G. Paton, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. His father was a stone mason. It was while he and his wife were living at Ardrishaig, a fishing village on Loch Fyne, twenty-three miles south of Inverary, that James Chalmers was born, August 4, 1841 It was in this neighborhood that Chalmers spent the early years of his life. "My first school," he states, "was on the south side of the canal, and I can well remember my mother leading me to the master and giving him strict instructions not to spare the rod."

James lived near one of the great lochs of Scotland and he came to love the sea with a passionate love. He was supremely happy when in a boat, or floating on a log or plank, or paddling a raft. In such escapades he had many narrow escapes. He says: "Three times I was carried home supposed to be dead by drowning, and my father used to say, 'You will never die by drowning.'" The remark proved to be prophetic but in a very different sense from anything he then imagined.

James was a great favourite with the Loch Fyne fishermen and he spent much time with them. Being very eager to go out fishing by himself and not having a boat, he improvised one out of a herring box and sallied forth. He was speedily carried out to sea by the strong current and was rescued only with difficulty. He loved danger and did not hesitate on several occasions to plunge into the water, at the risk of his life, in order to rescue a playmate from drowning. These experiences were a foreshadowing of many an adventure in his later life, when he steered a boatful of New Guinea natives through the raging surf or when he navigated the little mission schooner through the tempestuous storms that swept over the great Gulf of Papua.

In November, 1859, two preachers came from the North of Ireland to Inverary to hold a series of evangelistic meetings. Chalmers, now eighteen years of age, was the leader of a group of wild, reckless fellows who determined to break up the meetings. Although it was raining hard, he found a large company of people gathered on the first night. He was much impressed by the enthusiasm and joyfulness with which the people sang. The evangelist who preached that night took as his text, Revelation 22:17 -- "And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." The words glowed with fire and burned deep into James' soul. He went home that night overwhelmed with a conviction of sin and a vision of the loveliness of Christ. A few days later, Mr. Meikle, pastor of the United Presbyterian Church, came to the assistance of the groping boy. As he told of the wonders of divine love and explained the meaning of the words, "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin," young Chalmers came to the Fountain of Life. He says: "I felt that this salvation was for me. I felt that God was speaking to me in His Word and I believed unto salvation."

"Come!" said the sweet accents of the Great Invitation.

"I was thirsty and I came," said James Chalmers.


From: Giants of the Missionary Trail


James Chalmers

1841 - 1901

The Greatheart of New Guinea

by Eugene Myers Harrison


James Chalmers (1841-1901) was a Scottish missionary-explorer who served in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands for ten years, and in New Guinea from 1877 until his brutal murder by cannibal tribesmen on April 4, 1901, during a missionary trip to Goaribari Island.


From: http://www.wholesomewords.org/