THERE was no doubt as to the reality of the
change that had come to Margaret MacKellar. Her
heart was set on her new Treasure, the Lord
Jesus Christ, and she lost all her taste for earthly pleasures.
She never questioned whether playing cards and dancing were right or
wrong: she simply did not desire them. Even her music (she had never
learned to play sacred music) ceased to have any attraction for her. About
this time the piano had to be sold in order to discharge a debt of her
father's as he had had reverses in business. But the loss of it caused her
The evangelists held meetings in various places
till February of the following year, Margaret followed them. With
characteristic Scottish reticence she could not bring herself to give any
public testimony in the meetings, but her letters to her friends were full
of her new joy, and she pleaded with them to accept the Saviour. Cottage
prayer-meetings were begun in the town after the evangelists left, and it
was in one of these that the future missionary's voice was first heard
publicly as, very tremblingly, she engaged in prayer.
In the spring of the year she received a call to the sick bed of her
namesake, Maggie MacKellar, of Paris. She had been corresponding with
Maggie, who was a little more than a year younger than herself, and had
aroused in her friend's heart a desire to know Christ. Not realizing,
however, that her friend was so ill, she stayed off for a week's visit in
Galt on the way. There she was taken to visit a home for orphans, and the
work for these children, brought from England, made a very strong appeal
to her, and she thought she would like to give her whole time to God in
some such work as that.
Mhen she arrived in Paris she found the other Maggie in the last stages of
consumption. She was allowed to sleep with her. In order to test if there
was real desire on her friend's part to hear of Jesus she waited for her
to open the conversation. It was difficult, but at last the sick girl
opened her heart, and Margaret MacKellar, only a short time after her own
conversion, had the joy of bringing a soul to Christ.
Our Margaret MacKellar had always been welcome in this MacKeliar home, but
now she received a special invitation to remain. She decided to stay, and
now being made willing to learn millinery in Paris, she soon got a
position, and worked here for two seasons before the MacKeliars moved to
Ingersoll. The young Christian let her light shine among the other girls
in the workroom and wherever she went. It was not always easy. She had to
suffer some persecution, but she had a Friend to whom she always went with
all her joys and troubles, and she learned that He never failed her. Mr.
Burson had given her a little book, "Tell Jesus." It lay on her table and
the shining gilt letters of the title met her eyes as soon as she entered
the room and seemed to smile up at her with the invitation to "tell
Jesus." And as she told Jesus, she needed not to tell an earthly friend,
and no one else ever knew what she had to bear. One of the girls in the
workroom, a Roman Catholic, seeing her earnest life, said she was sure if
Margaret had been of her religion, she would have become a nun.
Margaret was a regular attendant at church, and soon became a teacher in
the Sabbath school. There was not so much heard then as now about the
keeping of the morning watch. Margaret did not keep it regularly, but
there were times when she rose early and found inexpressibly sweet
fellowship with God in that quiet morning hour before the work of the day
As in Hamilton, so in Paris, the young milliner made herself valuable to
In 1881 Dr. MacKay, of Formosa, visited Paris
and gave a missionary address. It was the first Margaret had ever heard,
and she was greatly stirred. It was not her nature to do anything by
halves. She emptied out all she had in her purse on the collection plate,
and with a daring faith wrote a promise to pay two dollars and a half
towards Oxford College, though she was not yet receiving any wages and did
not know where this amount was to come from. Her faith
was justified, for before the date of payment she received a gift of five
dollars. Sitting beside her that night at the meeting was a friend who
years afterwards spoke to Margaret about the difference in their lives due
to the different response each had made to God's call at that meeting. She
had had the same opportunity, and gave to the collection what she had
brought. She had felt the call of the great mission work, but did not
obey. Margaret's soul had gone out in longing to help. She had obeyed.
In the spring of 1882, feeling ready to take charge of
a millinery establishment herself, Miss MacKellar went to work in a
wholesale millinery establishment in London. Most of the girls there went
at their own expense, but owing to the recommendation of her employers in
Paris, Miss MacKellar was paid a small wage—just sufficient to pay her
About this time her father died of pneumonia, Margaret
arriving home too late to see him alive.
In London Miss MacKellar had a second opportunity of
hearing a great missionary speak. This time it was Robertson, of Erromanga.
Again she gave in the offering every cent she had, and next day had to
borrow money to buy a postage stamp, and had nothing in hand to pay her
board. Was such giving reckless? We shall see. A buyer writing from
Toronto had asked Mr. Green of the wholesale establishment to choose a
milliner for him. His choice fell on Miss MacKellar, but when some days
later the buyer visited the London wholesale, he thought Miss MacKellar,
in her simple black dress and plain hair dressing, was not stylish enough,
and he decided not to take her. He, however, gave Mr. Green ten dollars, a
week's wages, to give her. At first, pride prompted her to refuse it, but
other counsels prevailed, and thus her needs were met.
About this time she went for a week's visit to the home
of the MacPhersons, near Westminster, a few miles from London. While she
was there she had a dream that impressed her much. She thought the
judgment day had come, and she was received into heaven by the Lord Jesus.
She rejoiced at the welcome He gave her, and then her joy turned to sorrow
for she felt that she had come empty-handed. Her grief was deep. She
awoke, rose from her bed, and on her knees gave herself wholly to God to
follow His leading. This was not her call to the mission field, but it
left the way open for that call.
She was soon employed at Ridgetown, and was there for
two seasons, but during this period, as far as her missionary progress is
concerned, there is nothing to record.
In the winter season, 1883, she got a position in the
establishment of Mr. R. J. Colville, of Dresden. He was not only an
employer, but a friend and fellow-Christian. These were the early days of
the Salvation Army, and Mr. and Mrs. Colville had taken two young women,
Army officers, into their home. Their consecrated lives made a great
appeal to Miss MacKellar, and perhaps if she had received encouragement
from those whose advice she sought at this time, she might have joined the
Salvation Army. Mr. Colville's employees, too, were all Christians, and a
rather remarkable group they were. After Miss MacKellar left, Mr. Colville
gave up business and became a Y.M.C.A. secretary; Miss MacKellar became a
medical missionary; Will Rush studied medicine and became a foreign
missionary, and is now at work among the Galicians of Western Canada; Mr.
Groves was also for a time in Y.M.C.A. work. Other girls in the store
became Sabbath school teachers, so all were actively engaged in work for