Sunday, October 21, 2012

John Harper, The Hero of the Titanic

Baptist Pastor from England Ministered to the Perishing

The Reverend John Harper.

My friend, Pastor Bruce Hankee, of Greenmonte Fellowship in Stuart's Draft recounted the amazing story of John Harper, hero of the Titanic. Harper's early life may have been prophetic, as he nearly drowned on three separate occasions in his younger days. Receiving his call early, he preached his first sermon at age 18.

Harper worked in a mill until Pastor E. A. Carter noticed the young man's preaching and sent him to Scotland, where he became a Pastor. Many hearts were turned to G-d by his ministry in Glasgow.

In the Spring of 1912, the 39 year old Harper was a widower. He and his daughter Annie Jessie (Nana) were travelling to the United States so that he could preach for several weeks at the Moody Church in Chicago. They had booked passage on the ill-fated liner Titanic.

When the ship grazed an iceberg, breaching six compartments, on the night of April 14, 1912; Harper and his daughter went up on deck. Placing Nana in a lifeboat, he tearfully kissed her, saying: "I will see you again." Harper then began assisting people to the lifeboats, urging: "Women, children and the unsaved..." to go first. To anyone who would listen, he shared the message of Acts 16:31: "And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."

First Harper preached on the deck, later in the freezing water. Harper swam about ministering to those perishing in the water. One man, when asked if he was saved, said no. Harper explained the way of salvation to him. When the young man refused, Harper took off his life vest and put it on the man, who had none. He said: "You need this more than I do."

At a meeting of Titanic survivors, this man recounted the story of how John Harper had ministered to him. The man had come to Christ. Many remembered the man who, when most were trying to save their own skins, was sincerely concerned for the lives around him.

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