On this day in 1854 James Voller preached his first message as pastor of the Bathhurst Baptist Church in Sydney, Australia. It was only twenty-three years earlier that the first Baptist worship service was given to the Lord in that country. Something which made Voller’s first message especially auspicious was the fact that several national newspapers had made announcements of that service. And it was a surprise to everyone that he and his family were even there.
In answer to the call of the Bathhurst church, the Vollers had set sail from England. But their ship, the Meridian, had been run aground on the uninhabited Isle of Amsterdam in the Indian Ocean. Apparently, another ship saw evidence of the Meridian’s destruction and carried the news to Australia, breaking the hearts of the brethren who were expecting their new pastor.
But the Vollers and a few others were providentially delivered to a tiny beach at the foot of formidable cliffs on the island. There was no escape except up, so Brother Voller lead the survivors in prayer. They were cold, starving and fearing death, when the Lord answered, and some of the cargo from the ship wreak floated ashore. Then one of the stronger sailors scaled the cliffs, and with ropes everyone was eventually raised up to the plateau above. God continued to bless, and later an American whaling ship saw the smoke of their fires, and launching a daring rescue, saved the survivors.
When pastor Voller finally reached his destination, the church, and even the country, was elated. That first service became a national event. The church had been in serious doctrinal disorder, but considering their pastor to be God’s gift, they listened attentively to everything he said. Over the next few months and years, as he taught the principles of God’s Word, the candlestick of that congregation was spared.
James Voller was forty-years-of-age when he arrived in Sidney. He pastored that congregation for the next forty-eight years. It is said that from the Bathhurst Baptist Church many other churches were birthed.
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