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Conversion of James Chalmers: A Man Who Was Clubbed and Eaten

compiled by Hy. Pickering

James Chalmers James Chalmers was born at Ardrishaig, [Scotland], in 1841. At the age of 14 he had adopted a rather reckless mode of life, and had left Sunday School, but he could not flee his thoughts.

At 15 he heard Mr. Meikle read a letter from a missionary in Fiji, relating stories of cannibalism, and the power of the Gospel; and when Mr. Meikle said: "I wonder if there is a boy here who will some day become a missionary and take the Gospel to cannibals?" — James Chalmers resolved that he would.

But, before he could preach salvation to others, James must himself be saved. He was 18 years of age before this came to pass. It is a simple story. Two evangelists, at the request of Mr. Meikle, were conducting services in a joiner's loft, and a Mr. MacNicoll persuaded young Chalmers to go, lending him a Bible at the same time. The meeting had commenced. Old Hundredth was pealing out — "All people that on earth do dwell" — and as the boy entered, the sounds thrilled him. The text was Rev. 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." James wanted to come — he wanted the Water of Life, but it was not till the following Sunday in the Free Church that he was solemnly convicted. Heaven could never be for him, he felt. On Monday, Mr. Meikle had the joy of leading him to the Saviour — showing him that "the Blood of Jesus Christ His [God's] Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).

On January 28th, 1900, his wife wrote that they had a New Year gathering of 1700. It was the last this brave woman saw, the last "Tamate" saw, too. Along with a young colleague he started for Goaribari Island, in the "Niue," and both put off for the shore in the whaleboat on April 7th, 1901. The captain of the "Niue" never saw them again, and it was not until an expeditionary force had landed and caught a prisoner at Dopima, that any news could be had. The story the prisoner told was that "Tamate" and his companion had been felled with stone clubs, beheaded, and both their bodies eaten. The natives who had accompanied the missionaries were treated in the same manner.

From Twice-Born Men: True Conversion Records of 100 Well-Known Men in All Ranks of Life compiled by Hy. Pickering. London: Pickering & Inglis, [193-?]

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