The Titanic, struck an iceberg off Newfoundland on the night of April 14-15, 1912. One of the passengers on the Titanic was a Pastor from Scotland, by the name of John Harper.
Harper attended the church service for the passengers that fateful day. His niece reported that later that afternoon she saw her uncle speaking individually to people about their souls. It seems he was in the habit of seeking out the lost sheep wherever he went.
The Titanic struck the iceberg at 11:40 p.m. As the call was issued for passengers to vacate their cabins, Harper wrapped his daughter in a blanket, told her that she would see him again one day, and passed her to one of the crewmen. After watching her safely board one of the lifeboats, he removed his life jacket and gave it to one of the other passengers.
One survivor distinctly remembered hearing him shout, “Women, children and the unsaved into the lifeboats!” Harper knew that believers were ready to die but the unsaved were not ready.
Harper then ran along the decks pleading with people to turn to Christ, and with the ship sinking, he called upon the Titanic’s orchestra to play, “Nearer, my God, to Thee.” Gathering people around him on deck, he then knelt down, and “with holy joy in his face” raised his arms in prayer.
As the ship began to lurch, he jumped into the icy waters and swam frantically to all he could reach, beseeching them to turn to the Lord Jesus and be saved.
Finally, as hypothermia set in, John Harper sank beneath the waters and passed into the Lord’s presence; he was 39.
Four years later, a young Scotsman by the name of Aguilla Webb stood up in a meeting in Hamilton, Canada, and gave the following testimony:
“I am a survivor of the Titanic. When I was drifting alone on a spar that awful night, the tide brought Mr. John Harper of Glasgow, also on a piece of wreck, near me.
‘Man,’ he said, ‘Are you saved?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I am not.’ He replied, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.’ The waves bore him away; but, strange to say brought him back a little later, and he said, ‘Are you saved now?’
‘No,’ I said, ‘I cannot honestly say that I am.’ He said again, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,’ and shortly after he went down; and there, alone in the night, and with two miles of water under me, I believed. I am John Harper’s last convert.”
Apparently God wanted Webb’s amazing testimony to be shared, because only seven people were plucked from the icy water that night to join the survivors in the lifeboats. Webb was one of them.
In the Hollywood movie of the Titanic, nothing was said about John Harper, but he was truly one of the great heroes of the Titanic. In the face of death and drowning, he was concerned about the souls of men.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
Jesus laid down His life so each of us can live. So did John Harper. He loved greatly.
Reflect & Respond:
- You may not be on the Titanic. But those who do not place their trust in Jesus are still perishing. Is there someone you can urgently share the hope of salvation with?
- Have you placed your trust in Jesus? Want to find out more? Check out this page on Vision Christian Media’s website.