Sometimes we despair at the difficulties we face in our efforts to serve God. We wonder why the highest and noblest of all work by mankind would be impeded by wrecks, trouble, and near disaster. But providentially our pilgrimage is cluttered with pain, setbacks, and frightening walks ‘through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.’ Such was the case of James Voller who set sail from England with his family to become the pastor of the Bathurst Street Baptist church in Sydney, Australia. The earliest known Baptist worship service in Australia had been conducted on April 24, 1831, but now the James Voller family were on their way to minister in the Bathurst Baptist Church. Their ship was highly anticipated by the congregation who had bright hopes for their new pastor, but a dark shadow was cast over them when word came that their pastor’s ship was lost at sea. The Voller’s ship, the Meridian, had been run aground on the uninhabited island of Amsterdam in the Indian Sea. They were forced to abandon ship and clung to the rocks at the bottom of cliffs that seemed impossible to scale. They were cold, wet, hungry, and almost naked. But God caused some of the Meridian’s shipment to break open in front of them and the group was thus providentially supplied with warm clothing and food. One sailor courageously climbed the cliff and threw down ropes by which they were able to hoist everyone up to dry land, an effort that took almost two days to accomplish because of the difficulty of the terrain. After several days when the crew and passengers thought all was lost, God heard the cries of His ambassadors and caused an American whaling ship to see their smoke signals and launched a daring rescue. On April 24, 1854, James Voller preached his first message at his new church. Such was the excitement of the shipwreck and rescue that national papers carried the story and many came to hear the new Baptist preacher speak. Voller arrived in Australia at the age of forty; Forty-eight years later, when he entered his reward, he left behind him many Baptist churches.
Dr. Dale R. Hart adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins) p.p. 237 – 239