I don’t know that I can tell a man “I understand” his challenge in life, but I will certainly be able to better relate to what he is going through when I’m “walking in another man’s shoes.”
A man named Mel Trotter didn’t want to follow in the misguided footsteps of his father, so he left the “bar scene” to take up barbering, and it proved to be financially rewarding. But it also became a two-edged sword. It also gave him the ability to gamble and drink as well.
He knew he needed to follow a new path in life, so he moved from the big city. He relocated in the country, and that’s where he met the woman he married. But that wasn’t the cure to keep him sober. Even the birth of their son couldn’t turn him around. Mel couldn’t break the cycle of his addiction.
After another binge, he returned home. He found his wife weeping over the loss of their 2 year-old son.
Mel felt life wasn’t worth living any more, so he left his wife and thought he could solve his problem by running from his troubles. On Jan. 19, 1897, he was ready to “cash in his life.” He was homeless, coatless and hatless. All he had left were his shoes and he became shoeless when he sold his shoes to buy one last drink. He trudged barefoot through a blizzard, on his way to literally looking to drown his sorrows in the lake.
He even failed at doing that when he stumbled and fell to the ground. A man stepped out of a building, reached out to him and picked him up. The man invited him into the building. Mel didn’t notice the sign over the door, which said, “Pacific Garden Mission”.
The mission’s superintendent was sharing a message with all the derelict men. The superintendent spoke about how his life had also been off-course in the past, but it changed when he surrendered his life to Christ.
He said to Mel, “Jesus loves you, and so do I.” Then he said to Mel, “Let God know you want to make room in your heart and life for Him.”
Mel made a profession of faith, to begin a new life of surrendering to Jesus, and making Him the Master of his life. At that moment, the bondage of his addiction and despair was shed from his life!
That was the catalyst that led Mel to a 43-year ministry of reaching out to men and women on the streets. Just as a man had reached out to him, when he was lost and homeless, he had a passion to reach out to the lost and homeless too.
Mel knew how to “pay it forward.” He always had a simple message when reaching out to someone who was “down and out.” His words, “God loves you in the midst of your failures and despair, and God’s love has the power to change even the most ruined life.”
It took a horribly dark night in the life of Mel to the be able to see the light and have a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. Instead of his life ending that night, it was his new beginning.
I have shared this story because it is such an encouraging and powerful reminder of the transforming power of Jesus Christ.
Is there someone you can reach with that eternal, life changing good news? Pray for God to use you. There are more “Mels out there.”