Pictures of Mel Trotter (1870–1940) show a distinguished gentleman with serious face, slight smile, silver hair, wire glasses around perceptive eyes. His favorite verse was 2 Corinthians 5:17, and for good reason.
Trotter’s father, a bartender, taught Mel the trade at an early age. Despite the earnest prayers of his mother, Mel followed his dad headlong into runaway drinking, smoking, and gambling. When he married, his habits reduced his family to poverty. Mel sold the family possessions from under his wife’s nose to replenish his drinking money, then he resorted to robbery to satisfy the craving for more booze.
One day Trotter staggered home to find his young son dead in his mother’s arms. Over the boy’s casket, Mel promised to never touch another drop of liquor as long as he lived, a resolve that barely lasted through the funeral.
Shortly afterward, Mel, age 27, hopped on a freight car for Chicago. It was a bitterly cold January night, but he sold his shoes for some drinking money. After being evicted from a bar on Clark Street, he headed toward Lake Michigan to commit suicide. Somehow he ended up at the Pacific Garden Mission so drunk the doorman had to prop him against a wall so he wouldn’t fall off his chair.
Despite his inebriation, at the close of the service, Trotter raised his hand for prayer and trusted Christ as his Savior. The change was instant and remarkable. Mel Trotter became a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 became his testimony verse, and he began sharing it everywhere. His wife came to Chicago to join him, and in time Mel Trotter became one of the most sought-after preachers, speakers, soul-winners, and rescue workers in America.
“The greatest day I ever lived was the 19th of January, 1897,” he once said, “when the Lord Jesus came into my life and saved me from sin. That transaction revolutionized my entire life. Don’t call me a reformed drunkard. I am a transformed man, a child of God.”
Robert J. Morgan