Below is the testimony of Melvin E. (Mel) Trotter in his own words as he told it with thrilling effect on several occasions at Philadelphia, and at Wilmington, Delaware -- printed in a book copyrighted in 1909:

"Brother A____ likes to have me with him; I believe he loves me -- I know he does but he sort of takes me around as a kind of 'horrible example,' a 'Before' and 'After' taking advertisement. Did you ever see one of them? you know -- a lean man up one side, and a big, fat, prosperous -- looking one up the other side: 'Before' and 'After.' I'm 'After' -- after the Lord Jesus Christ found me. He found me in Chicago one night nine years ago and more, and he saved me.

"I started out in life with as good a chance as any one you can find. My father would have let me go to school, but of course, I did not need it. I knew so much more than the old man, so I did not get any schooling. I went out into the world and learned the barber trade; and at the age of sixteen I was drawing a man's salary. That's a bad thing for a boy. I was able to indulge in many things that did me harm.

"I got to know a great deal about four-legged Trotters. I was always stuck on the finest horses; and I was a good fellow. And I kept on drinking, and the first thing I knew I couldn't stop. The friends I had found that when they needed me the most I was not there; and they cut me out, and bye and bye I got down to drinking sheenies, three for five.

"And I couldn't help it. I tried to break away and get into the country. A man named Cook gave me a splendid big black horse, one of the best horses I ever drove, and I got a buggy and a job in the country. I moved out into the country, and made a lot of money. My wife would go with me to keep me sober, and I would stay sober awhile, and how I wanted to stay sober, and I'd say, 'I'll never take another drink as long as I live.'

 

Eleven Miles For Drink

 

"One night I went to put my horse in a barn after a long drive, and took my wife to the house. It was snowing, and one of the coldest days in Iowa. All of a sudden the devil seemed to get hold of me. I had driven my horse nearly as fast as he would go; but I started him out again, and drove eleven miles and came back home with eleven big drinks inside of me, and three big quarts of whiskey in my buggy, and my wife was heartbroken. She looked into my face, and she said, 'I didn't know where you had gone, but if I could have walked through this awful storm I would have come to look for you.' I did not want to do that! I would have given my life if I could have stayed sober, but it wasn't in me.

"Another night I went on a drunk after I had been sober eleven weeks and three days, with a suspended sentence hanging over me. I went out into the country, and I was having a good time, and I drove up to a saloon, put my horse in the shed, and said, 'There's the old horse out there in the buggy; I want to give everybody something to drink, and just keep right on paying until the horse is drunk up.' I was just simply imbecile; there was nothing else to it. And I tried my level best. I do not look like a man that goes down easy, but I just could not stop it. I went on worse and worse and finally I got back to the city again; and the drunks got oftener and oftener, and they'd get a little bit longer.

"I tried for six years to quit. There is no fun in that. Every time I would fall after promising my wife and my boy and myself that I would never take it again. Then when I would fall I would be just that much lower in my own estimation; I would hate myself. Finally when I would get drunk I would not go home. I got to staying away on a week's drunk, three or four days at first, and then gradually longer and longer. I would commit burglary in order to satisfy the awful craving for drink.

 

Gold Cure Useless

 

"They were trying to turn me off the whiskey, but they did not give me any remedy. You cannot tie a big fellow like me with a bit of ribbon. It needs something more than that. They tried the gold cure; and they gave me a hypodermic syringe and three bottles of medicine; but I sold the whole outfit in fifteen minutes for three drinks of whiskey. And I want to tell you they couldn't hold me with that thing. I needed Jesus in my heart before the old things could pass away and all things become new. That is my favorite verse in the Bible -- II Cor. 5:17 -- 'Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.' Present tense -- you do not have to wait till you get to heaven before all this happens. The 'old things' -- the old appetites, the old desires are passed away. Where are they? You can search me; I do not know.

"God gave us only one baby, and when the little fellow was two years and a month old I went to our little home one day -- it had almost ceased to be a home -- I went home after a ten days' drunk, and found him dead in his mother's arms. I will never forget that day. I was simply a slave, and I knew it. It pretty nearly broke my heart. I said, 'I am a murderer. I am anything but a man; and I cannot stand it, and I won't stand it, and I will just end my life.' But I did not have courage enough. At my mother's knee I had been taught to say, 'Now I lay me,' and I knew there was a God; I did not dare face him; I couldn't stand suicide.

"Mrs. Trotter was alone with the little body when she laid it down, dead; and she turned away to God, and said, 'Father, I have had my thoughts on my baby more than on you, and now I want to turn away to you. You are all I have left.' Mrs. Trotter had never been away from our baby one hour from the time he was born till the time he died in her arms. She had a drunken husband, and her only joy and hope was in her baby, and, oh, how she cared for him! And she turned around from the dead child and she said, 'Lord, I am going to serve you, to help others in trouble. I have my husband' -- and she began to pray for me. That's a thing that counts; when a wife gets hold of God without letting go there's something going to happen.

 

Almost Drunk at The Funeral

 

"She led me into the little room and closed the door upon the three of us; and over the body of our dead baby, lying in the little white casket, she made me promise that I would not take another drop. I made the promise, put my arms about her, and told her I'd never touch liquor again as long as I lived, and the funeral was not over two hours before I staggered home so drunk I could not see. You know I could not help that. The devil had got hold of me.

"I went away from home, left my wife to get along as best she could; and I went clean down into the gutter. I went on down in sin till I was a hopeless, homeless drunkard. I was so far down that I had to reach up to touch bottom; and one night I made up my mind I could not stand it any longer. It looked as if there was no other way for me but to take my own life in the lake, along what they called the 'Viaduct Route,' where the railroad was reclaiming some land; and where all the suicides went over.

"Going down East Van Buren Street I went past a place; and I heard them singing inside, 'Throw Out the Life-line Across the Dark Wave.' I stopped just a little, and a man outside boosted me in. He said, 'Come on in, Fatty; just the place for you,' and in I went.

"Well, bless your hearts, it proved to be the old Pacific Garden Mission. That's the place in Chicago where an old bum is always welcome, where they will give him just as good a seat as they will when you've got your Prince Albert coat on, and where they will take just as good care of you as any place in all the world. I got a good seat, and I heard them singing.

"I went to sleep during the preaching, but I woke up when the testimonies started; and I heard the most marvelous stories I ever heard in my life. Why, men and women, I tell you that those boys in there were like these men here; they had found a new joy; they had been saved by the saving grace of God, some of them a week, some two weeks, some six months, some ten years, and there they were just filled with the Spirit instead of filled with sin and wickedness. And Harry Monroe got up and told how Jesus had come into his life and saved him. He said, 'Listen, fellows, God loves you,' and he pointed his finger straight at me, and God was in the whole business.

"Mr. Monroe gave an invitation, and I was the first man to raise my hand for prayer. I gripped my old cap and started down the aisle; and knocked over all the chairs in my way. Mr. Monroe got off the platform and helped me down front; we knelt down there, and he told me to pray the publican's prayer. Well, I did not know anything about it, but just what he told me to do I did. I heard the story that Jesus loved me, and that if I confessed my sin he was faithful and just to forgive my sin, and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. The verse he stood me on that night was 'Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out'; and all of a sudden I remembered, so many times I had heard the story of the Cross, how Jesus went all the way to Calvary, and

 

"'None of the ransomed ever knew

How deep were the waters crossed,'

 

and I saw Jesus, bearing his cross, men spitting at him and crowning him with thorns, all for my sin. I saw him starting up that awful steep hill with his cross, and falling under it. I got a glimpse of my Lord that I have never lost for an instant from that moment until this.

 

Was a Tobacco Fiend, Too

 

"I did not have any money, and not much more clothes. I had a lovely overcoat, though. It was a bargain. I didn't stop to get measured for it. I bought it in a hurry. You know I wanted to catch a train; and I just picked out the biggest coat I could see; a friend of mine went back and paid for it. If you had taken the overcoat away from me I would not have had clothes enough to pad a crutch. I do not believe I could have stopped a bread wagon on a bet. I was just as much a fiend for tobacco as I was for whiskey; and I didn't have the money to buy the one, so I had my right hand pocket filled with 'wet ones,' and my left hand pocket filled with 'dry ones.'

"A godly fellow took me to his home that night; my own brother Will. I want to tell you there were three of us boys, and all three of us tended bar, for my own father. My father was a drunkard, and my brothers and I were drunkards. But tonight brother George has a lovely Mission in Saginaw, Michigan; brother Will has a large Mission in Los Angeles, California; and I have one in Grand Rapids, Michigan. My old mother is not known outside of the little town in which she lives in Illinois. She is a very quiet woman; if you would ask her to stand up here she couldn't do it; she has never seen a crowd like this. She's just a dear old home body, but she has seven children, and every one of them loves Jesus.

"Well I cleaned up that night. I just cleaned those dirty old things out of my pockets and started out right. Will stood and watched me, with the tears streaming down his face. He knew if I was ever going to get anywhere I would have to get away from that. I want to tell you right now there is just one thing I have never seen -- and Mrs. Clark and Harry Monroe told me they had never seen -- I never saw one man who had been saved from drinking and kept his tobacco that did not go back again. If I had stuck to that thing, I do not believe I could have been here tonight, standing before you; but God gave me the Holy Spirit in place of it; and I do not want it, and I have been able to go out and tell the story of my salvation.

"The next day I went to work. My brother bought me a coat, and put me to work at a barber shop; and I have never cost a man a dollar from that day to this. We had a compact little room; it was front parlor, back parlor, kitchen, pantry, bedroom and automobile shed all rolled into one room, and that was the best place I had ever been in, for Jesus was there. I set up the family altar, with a little bit of a Testament that cost two and a half cents. And I started to read. I did not know much where to read, but I said, 'I will start at the beginning; most books start there anyhow.'

"So I started off in the first chapter of Matthew; and the names got me up a tree before I got through the second verse. I got over into the second chapter, and began to read things. Then I would get down on my knees, and in the best way I knew how I would commit my way to the Lord; did not have any better sense than just expect him to lead me, and I would just place my hands in his, and ask him to keep us.

 

Memorized Scripture

 

"Presently I got to reading the little Testament on the car. I was not long on newspapers. Well, you could not ride on a car seven miles from town, and let a lot of women stand up while you sat down and read a Testament. Well, I tried reading standing up, so I started to get a verse and to commit it to memory every day. The first year after I was saved I had 365 verses in my head, and, what is better, in my heart.

"I made $4.20 the first week after Jesus saved me; and my wife and myself lived on it and paid 60 cents car fares and a dollar a week rent, and never went back [into debt]. I tell you right now we have been mighty badly bent, but we never went in debt and God took care of us. My wife never complained, although she came out of a splendid home. She said, 'I would rather live in one room and have my old man sober than live in a palace with a drunkard.' But I have paid $1,800 worth of debts since Jesus saved me, and it has been a pretty hard grind, too. I have just gone on, trusting him day by day, and made today count for God. I commit my way unto him every day before I talk to men. We just start the day together. I do not know very much about it, but I know this, that I was a poor old hopeless drunkard and Jesus saved me, and he keeps me all the way.

"My heart goes out to the drunkards; and I pity the poor girl on the streets. I pity her so that we have a home to take her to -- not a Rescue Home that some one has paid for, but our own little home in Grand Rapids, and the door is always open to poor girls that want to live the Christian life. Sometimes we have no spare room, or we do not have the money, but Mrs. Trotter always says, 'Do not turn one of them away.'

What is the reason for their being down in that life? Because some miserable scoundrel put them there. For every poor woman that has gone down into sin there is some man as black as Satan back of it. In the United States today [about 1909] there are 30,000 women who are really outcasts. Their average life is five years, so that 6,000 die every year, and 72 daughters go out of the homes of the United States every day of the year to fill up their awful ranks.

"Men, can you look me in the face and tell me that a woman that goes down into sin is any worse than you are. Some of these days you men that have a lovely home, and a good reputation in your neighborhood, and yet sin will meet judgment.

 

Just "Let God Move In"

 

"I went to work to find the old drunkards; and God has been giving me drunkards ever since. I have gone out in the power of the Spirit of God, depending upon him to do it. We find some cases that will just almost break our hearts. Nearly every scene that we see in our rescue work is a dark one. We get them when everybody else has done with them. But I am glad I am in it. It is the nicest work in the world. There is absolutely no worry. We just move out and let God move in. And I say to you my work is a pleasure all the way through, and if I had a thousand lives I would like to live them all for Him. By the help and grace of God I am determined to use the one I have for him. It is not much I can do, but I tell you it is a good deal He can do.

"I have only got one text, and that is, the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, can cleanse from all sin, and that takes in everything. I have just one remedy. I do not have to do like physicians do -- go in and diagnose a case. I know that sin will cover it every time, and I know that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin. When they begin to tell me their story I say, 'You just wait for my story before you begin to tell me -- hold on just a minute -- the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, will cleanse you from all your sin, and everything else will take care of itself.' 'And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.'"

 

From: STORIES WITH A MESSAGE Selected and Edited By Duane V. Maxey

 

 

Index