On the eve of the 100-year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, I wanted to share this real story of sacrifice and love for Christ. In the book The Ruler Who Serves, Ray Stedman shares this amazing story of evangelist John Harper.
John Harper, traveling with his six-year old daughter, Nana, was sailing to America as the newly called pastor of Chicago’s Moody Church. After the ship struck an iceberg and began sinking, Harper put his daughter into a lifeboat, then called out to the people on the tilting deck, “Women, children and unsaved in the lifeboats!” He was ready for eternity, but his love for the others was so great that he wanted any who were unsaved to have the opportunity to live and find Jesus.
When the lifeboats were gone, Harper preached the message of salvation to those who, awaiting death, remained huddled on the deck of the Titanic. He gave his lifejacket to another man and then jumped into the water, where he clung to a piece of wreckage.
The dread numbness of hypothermia seized Harper as he clung to life in the icy sea. After just a few minutes in the water, his heartbeat was slowing and his muscles were becoming rigid. He could feel his consciousness ebbing away, but then he saw a man floating nearby. With teeth chattering uncontrollably, Harper called out, “Man! Are you saved?”
“No,” the stranger answered, “I am not!”
Harper explained the gospel to the man, then said, “Do you believe?”
“Yes!” the stranger answered. And then, in the middle of the icy North Atlantic, this stranger gave his heart to Jesus Christ. A short time later, this believer was pulled from the water by a passing lifeboat, but Harper was never found. For years afterward, that survivor—John Harper’s last convert—told the story of the evangelist’s last words. Those words gave a lost soul the power to believe and live forever.
Everyday is a day to live with passion, purpose, and being ready to share the hope and salvation to a lost world that is sinking in icy water. Now is the time to believe!
Vice-President of Infusion Ministries