Last week was the 103rd anniversary of one of the most tragic events in world history – the sinking of the Titanic.
One passenger interested me – John Harper. He was a Baptist minister on his way to Chicago to hold a revival meeting at Moody Church. His wife had died and he was accompanied with his 6 year old daughter, Nana, and her nurse. On April 14, the Titanic hit an iceberg and Harper made sure his daughter and her nurse were safely on a lifeboat.
As the rear of the huge ship began to lurch upwards, it was reported that Harper was seen making his way up the deck yelling, “Women, children and unsaved into the lifeboats!” It was only minutes later that the Titanic began to rumble deep within. Most people thought it was an explosion; actually the ship was literally breaking in half. At this point, many people jumped off the decks and into the icy, dark waters below. John Harper was one of these people.
That night 1,528 people went into the frigid waters. John Harper was seen swimming frantically to people in the water leading them to Jesus before the hypothermia became fatal. Mr. Harper swam up to one young man who had climbed up on a piece of debris. Rev. Harper asked him between breaths, “Are you saved?” The young man replied that he was not.
Harper then tried to lead him to Christ only to have the young man who was near shock, reply no. John Harper then took off his life jacket and threw it to the man and said, “Here then, you need this more than I do…” and swam away to other people. A few minutes later Harper swam back to the young man and succeeded in leading him to salvation. Of the 1,528 people that went into the water that night, six were rescued by the lifeboats. One of them was this young man.
Four years later, at a survivors meeting, this young man stood up and in tears recounted how that after John Harper had led him to Christ. Mr.Harper had tried to swim back to help other people, yet because of the intense cold, had grown too weak to swim. His last words before going under in the frigid waters were, “Believe on the Name of the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” This servant of God did what he had to do. While other people were trying to buy their way onto the lifeboats and selfishly trying to save their own lives, John Harper gave up his life so that others could be saved.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends…” John Harper was truly the hero of the Titanic!