Transformed lives

 

Through the ministry of Charles Thompson the lives of many people were positively and sometimes dramatically affected. Here are a few testimonials of people's lives, which were so affected and transformed as a result of his intervention in their lives.

The well known criminal with no hope

On one occasion a well-known criminal was brought before the magistrates on a charge of being drunk and disorderly and using threats. Everything was as black as could be against him. A redeeming feature, however, was that the man had not been before the court for several months past. The magistrates were disposed to leniency, and ordered his release if he could find surety for his future good behaviour, or in default be sent to jail. It was a risky thing to stand surety for such a bad character. "Can you find surety?" asked the presiding magistrate. "No," replied the prisoner, "I don't know anyone who would say a good word for me." As he was going down to the cells a thought suddenly flashed to his mind, and, looking back, he exclaimed: "Your worship, can I say a word?" The magistrate consented. "I've been out of trouble for some months now, and I don't want to go back. Can't you give me a chance? No one will say a good word for a fellow like me, unless perhaps Mr Thompson - him that looks after the kids! Can I see him?" "If Mr Thompson is willing to take the responsibility that you will be of good behaviour, we will let you off, but if he refuses to do so, to prison you must go. Men like you are a danger to society and to themselves. Mr Thompson will be sent for, and we shall hear what he has to say." Such was the decision; and the prisoner anxiously awaited Mr Thompson's arrival. The interview was a brief one, but it was quite long enough for a heart-to-heart talk between the man and the "ne'er-do-well." The latter was a stranger to Mr Thompson, but he had heard of his name and good work through his children, who attended the Mission. Ultimately Mr Thompson got him to promise to lead a new life for the sake of his wife and little ones, and he was released from custody.

Several months after the above incident Mr Thompson met the man again. What a transformation had been accomplished meanwhile! The man was thoroughly reformed: he was well dressed, in employment, and had got a comfortable home and a little money saved. The children had now no need to seek charity from the Mission, and, as the man himself declared, all this was brought about by Mr Thompson's influence. "You were the first one to say a kind word for me. I was shunned and despised, and hounded down, all through my own fault; and if you had not given surety for me and said a word of sympathy on the day when I first saw you, God knows where I would have landed, for I was thoroughly reckless and sick and tired of life." Such was the poor fellow's confession, and this little incident is only one of many where, by timely intervention and friendly help, Mr Thompson carried light, and hope, and happiness into the hearts of the wayward and erring. He often pleaded with the magistrates not to send transgressors to prison, and to give the children another chance, and on his promise to keep a watchful eye upon them they were liberated.

The lady in dire circumstances

A similar incident that took place was when a poor, wretched, starving woman with her two children were found in the cellar of a dirty lodging-house. All they had to cover them were two sacks, and the poor mother had almost given up in despair her struggle for existence. Through the instrumentality of the good Samaritan, the woman obtained help from a Mrs Birt from the Liverpool Sheltering Homes who was ever ready to lend a helping hand to the poor and needy. * She took the brother and sister to Canada, where they both prospered, and ultimately got married. The daughter subsequently sent the passage money for her mother to join her, there to end her days in happiness.

The destitute family

It was not unusual for the peacemaker, after a tiring day, to be called away by some little troubled child to try and pacify some drunken father or mother. In this painful and difficult task he generally succeeded. To one home of this sort in particular he was called on one occasion. It was entirely devoid of furniture, no fire, little food, and the children neglected. He was the means here of restoring happiness and comfort again. He had the children clothed and washed, and a clean curtain instead of an old newspaper put on the wretched window. The father on returning from his day's work hardly recognised his home and children. The repeated kindness shown to the woman, who had allowed herself to become practically a slave to drink, made her so ashamed that she determined to try and lead a different life, which, though not without many failures she succeeded in doing.

The little girl who longed to be adopted

It is hard to imagine the plight of some of the children who came into the Mission. In the 1904/5 Report it mentions one such little girl, who was a favourite with all that she came into contact with. She was always the first at the Mission and the last to go away, many a time coming back and sitting on the step as late as ten o'clock at night. She cried to them at the Mission that she wanted to be adopted just as a little boy at the Mission had been, and just when they were in great perplexity as to what was to be done with her, a lady called, anxious to hear if they knew of a little girl she could adopt to love and bring up as her own, as she was very lonely and wished for a little one for company. Needless to say in a very short time everything was arranged for the little girl to go to her new home early the next morning. When the little girl subsequently came back to visit them at the Mission they could scarcely recognise her as the little forlorn child who used to sit on the door step - hail, rain or snow, waiting for admission.

The man saved from suicide

Walking from Seacombe to Birkenhead, across the Dock Bridges, on one occasion he stopped a man who was in the act of throwing himself into the dock. He took him to a lodging-house, paid for his bed, and afterwards got him employment. The suicidal man subsequently quite recovered his position as a respectable member of society, thanks to Charles Thompson.

* The Liverpool Sheltering Homes came into being as a result of Liverpool shipowners Alexander Balfour and Stephen Williamson being concerned at the numbers of destitute and orphaned children in Liverpool. This led to the opening of a home in Byrom Street, adjacent to Byrom Hall Baptist Chapel in 1873, its purpose being to rescue destitute and neglected children, train them in the home and accompany groups to a new life in Canada. The work was managed by Mrs Louisa Birt, sister of Annie Macpherson, a prominent evangelical, who began a similar work in London. That same year Mrs Birt took the first group of children to Nova Scotia in Canada.

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