Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
For many years now, the name Titanic has always fascinated me. I’ve been hooked ever since I found a book at a library on the air force base we lived on in Shreveport, LA, called A Night to Remember. I was probably 13 years old at the time. I’ve followed anything I could find on the Titanic for years after that. When the press started showing photos of the ship when Bob Ballard found it in the 80’s I was truly mesmerized! I later bought a coffee table size book of all the color plates that Ballard took of the ship. They were mysterious and ghostly and I can still recall many of
them from memory of looking though that book. After I came to Texas I gave the book to one of our staff persons who used it as a teaching aid for his home-schooled children.
Like many people, I know I tend to romanticize the sinking of the Titanic. Hollywood has helped us do that along with several books written about it. But the bottom line was that this giant ship collided with an iceberg on its maiden voyage and sunk is about 2 hours. More than 1,500 people tragically died that night of April 15, 1912. Around 700 people were saved.
I’ve read many accounts of the people who drowned and watched several TV documentaries where survivors were interviewed. Several of the richest people in the world were on board the Titanic that night, as well as some of the poorest people in the world. The one thing they had in common was that none of them expected to die that night.
Later, after I gave my life to the Lord, I heard another somewhat unknown story about the Titanic. I first heard it when one of the leaders in our ministry gave a devotional at one of our morning prayer meetings. I hadn’t thought about the Titanic much since I arrived here but that devotional peaked my interest again. I’d like to share a little of it with you.
There was a British pastor on the Titanic that night. His name was John Harper. In all the material I read and saw on the Titanic, I had never heard this story. But after I was saved, I wondered if there were any Christians on the ship. I received my answer when I listened to the devotional on him from our leader. I’ve copied part of the story about John Harper from the internet, below:
(John) Harper’s reputation as an evangelist was so well known that he was invited to speak at The Moody Church in 1910. I (the person writing the article) have in my possession a photocopy of a letter, in his own handwriting, which reads, “I have been in Chicago for three months, God gave us a very precious and wonderful revival of continuous services each day and sometimes even more often.” He went on to say that he now had been invited back to The Moody Church for another three months of meetings.
And so, it was that John Harper, his sister, and his six-year-old daughter (his wife had died) found themselves on the great ship, the Titanic. Survivors later reported that as Titanic began to sink, Harper admonished people to be prepared to die. He made sure his sister and daughter were in a lifeboat even as he continued to share the Gospel with whoever would listen. And when he found himself in the icy water with a life jacket, floating near another man, Harper asked, “Are you saved?”
“No, I’m not saved!” the desperate man replied.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!” Harper shouted.
One report says Harper, knowing he could not survive long in the icy water, took off his life jacket and threw it to another person with the words, “You need this more than I do!” Moments later, Harper disappeared beneath the water. Four years later, when there was a reunion of the survivors of the Titanic, the man to whom Harper had witnessed told the story of his rescue and gave a testimony of his conversion recorded in a tract, I was John Harper’s Last Convert.
As I thought about this the other day, a couple of thoughts came to mind that I think would be good for us to remember.
First, we never know when, or how, we our Lord will call us home. I’m sure the 1500 people who died never gave that a thought until the ship hit the iceberg. The Bible talks about being sober-minded. I think having a view of our mortality in mind is part of being sober-minded. I heard it said it said a few times that, “you can never really live until you are ready to die.” It was something like that, anyway. Our time is not our own. It is in God’s hands. May we spend what time we have here on this earth to His glory. That is not always easy as you probably know. But it is something we should aim for. Otherwise we hit nothing and live for ourselves.
The other thing this story shows me, is that God is always working. Think about Mr. Harper’s last encounter. God wanted to save that man in the water and He used John Harper to do it. The story also says, that before the ship sank that Mr. Harper went around talking to all that he could. We don’t know if any of them took his advice and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. But we do know that at least one person was saved that night.
Take that and apply it to your own life. What did our LORD do in your life to bring you to Him. I’ve heard some of your stories and I know you, like me, had pretty much hit rock bottom. But, by His grace, we responded to His call. Each story is different but has one element that is true for all of us. We believed, we confessed, and we humbled ourselves to Jesus. He did the saving. Praise God! We have a glorious God who looked on us and said “I want him. I want her.” He never forced us. He called and we responded. I don’t know about you, but I am grateful and humbled that our LORD would called me to be his son. What about you?