By: Ted Camp, Silent Word Ministries
In 1912 when the Titanic, the greatest ship of its time, sank on its maiden voyage, killing more than 1,500 passengers. Many movies, documentaries and books have told fascinating stories of some of the passengers and survivors. Yet one of the supreme stories of the Titanic involved a heroic pastor and his passion to save lives and souls.
Preacher John Harper and six–year–old daughter of London, England, boarded the Titanic for America as the Moody Church in Chicago anxiously awaited his arrival as they planned for him to be their next pastor. John Harper had an evangelistic zeal to see people come to Christ.
When the Titanic hit the iceberg, Harper led his daughter safely to a lifeboat, then ran person to person, passionately telling others about Christ.
As the water began to submerge the “unsinkable” ship, Harper was heard shouting, “women, children, and the unsaved into the lifeboats.” Up until the last moment on the ship Harper pleaded with people to give their lives to Jesus.
The ship then disappeared beneath the deep frigid waters leaving hundreds floundering in its wake with no realistic chance for rescue. Harper struggled through freezing waters to swim to as many people as he could, still sharing the Gospel. Harper eventually would lose his battle with hypothermia, but not before giving many people one last glorious Gospel witness.
Now, for the rest of the story... ”Four years after the tragedy at a Titanic survivor’s meeting in Ontario, Canada, one survivor recounted his interaction with John Harper in the middle of the icy waters. He testified he was clinging to ship debris when Harper swam up to him, twice challenging him to “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”
He rejected the offer once. Yet given the second chance the man finally gave his life to Christ as Harper succumbed to his watery grave.
As he concluded his remarks he simply stated, “I am the last convert of John Harper.” (encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/john-harper.html )
When the Titanic set sail there were listed three classes of passengers. Yet the White Star Line in Liverpool, England placed a board outside its office with only two classes of passengers reading, “Known to be saved” and “Known to be lost.”
The owners of the Titanic had simply reaffirmed what John Harper already knew. There are only two classes of people those (1) “in Christ” who will spend eternity with God in heaven and those (2) “without Christ.
Friend, if you are “without Christ” listen again to the words of John Harper, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Then your name can be listed as “known to be saved.”
These are Words of Wisdom.
Ted Camp is director of Silent Word Ministries, a worldwide ministry to the deaf based in Trenton. E-mail him at TC@silentword.org to be added to the email list for weekly articles or phone (706) 657-8000.