In 1912 the Titanic, the largest, most luxurious, and most advanced ship of its time, sank on its maiden voyage, taking the lives of 1,514 passengers. Though the disaster occurred over a hundred years ago, several movies, documentaries, and books have kept the horror of that night alive in our minds. We’ve all heard of passengers such as “the unsinkable” Molly Brown and the entrepreneur John Jacob Astor IV.
But one of the most astounding stories from the Titanic has received little press.
It’s the story of Pastor John Harper, a man who was traveling with his six-year-old daughter at the invitation of the great Moody Church in Chicago. Not only was he to preach there, he intended to accept the church’s offer to become their next pastor. His hopes were high, and it seemed he had a brilliant future ahead.
After the ship hit the iceberg and it became apparent that it would sink, Harper got his daughter safely aboard a lifeboat. It’s likely he could have joined her, being her only parent, but he chose to stay aboard the sinking ship because he knew that with this disaster, God had given him an urgent mission.
Harper immediately began to go from one person to another, TELLING THEM ABOUT CHRIST’S LOVE AND URGING THEM TO ACCEPT HIM. He shouted for Christians to let the unsaved fill the lifeboats so they would live to come to belief. When one angry man rejected the message, Harper removed his own life vest and gave it to him, saying, “You need this more than I do.”
Harper was still actively pressing his urgent evangelism when the ship tipped upward, wrenched in half, and slipped beneath the frigid North Sea. Even then Harper did not stop. Seeing the many passengers struggling in the water with little chance of rescue, he swam to as many as he could, URGING THEM TO ACCEPT GOD’S LOVING OFFER UNTIL HYPOTHERMIA FINALLY OVERCAME HIM.
Four years later, at a Titanic survivors meeting in Ontario, one survivor told the story of his own encounter with John Harper. He was clinging to a piece of flotsam when Harper swam to him and urged him to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” The man rejected the offer and Harper swam away.But soon Harper came around again, and this time, knowing death to be only minutes away, the man gave his life to Christ.
Moments afterward, he watched the near-freezing water finally take Harper’s life just as a returning lifeboat approached to rescue him. At the conclusion of his story, he said simply, “I am the last convert of John Harper.”
John Harper carried a zeal that flows with the heartbeat of God. Seeing souls practically losing their chances to be saved, he would do anything it takes just to share the Gospel of God’s love to as many as he can, whether he survived the climatic conditions – or not.
“You need this lifejacket than I do”! Wow. The Titanic left England with three classes of passengers aboard.
– the upper class (super rich)
– the middle class (financially comfortable)
– the lower class (poor)
But when accounting for their fate, the White Star Line set up a board listing only two classes:
– KNOWN TO BE SAVED and
– KNOWN TO BE LOST.
These categories provided a fitting analogy for what John Harper already knew which are the two classes of people in this world:
– those who have chosen to accept Christ and will enjoy eternity with God, and
– those who have not chosen Him and will not.
Are you a believer in Jesus? Then renew your passion to see the lost saved! Learn what the gospel really is…and go ahead in the power of Holy Spirit and get as much as you can to hear it. Oh, I can’t imagine the kind of welcome party that John Harper would have got from Jesus in heaven.
All believers will enter the kingdom – that’s sure. But not all believers will abundantly enter into the kingdom.
“…for if ye do these things… an ENTRANCE shall be ministered unto you ABUNDANTLY into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…” (2Peter 1:10-11)
If John Harper will evangelize in a critical environmental condition, wouldn’t you evangelize in your cool street? Let the story of John Harper wake up your spirit man to the real thing that gladdens the heart of God.
“…and an ENTRANCE shall be ministered unto you ABUNDANTLY into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…” (2Peter 1:10-11)