Today is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. This terrible tragedy was also the occasion of some very heroic deeds as men by and large supported a “Women and children first” policy. Sadly the heroic aspect has been obscured by a dubious movie. On this anniversary there is one specific story especially relevant to the theme of this site which I would not want us to miss. My friend Mark Donaldson pointed me to the story of John Harper, a Scottish Baptist preacher from Glasgow. Harper demonstrated the heart of a pastor and evangelist in this desperate situation. This brief video from BBC news includes comments from the current pastor of Harper Memorial Baptist Church and Harper’s grandson. It is well worth watching.
Knowing the ship was going down, Harper, a widower, calmly placed his young daughter on a life boat along with his niece ensuring their safety while knowing he would likely not see them again. When the ship went down he was in the icy sea with a life jacket. Survivors reported that Harper called people to Christ aboard the ship and while in the sea. Upon encountering a man without a life jacket, he asked if the man had trusted Christ. When the man said, “No,” Harper gave him his lifejacket saying the unbeliever needed it more than he did. This other man was later one of just a few who were rescued. John Harper died at sea, but the man who received the life jacket came to faith and later told the story.
Harper, like his Master, came to seek and to save the lost.