10/21/2020 – Pastor Brian’s Blog –

I always thought I was ready to die until… we were on vacation and I made the foolish mistake of asking one of the local people “What is there to do in the area?” He said to me, “You must drive to the top of the mountain, it is so beautiful this time of year!” I thought, ‘Judy would like that; this could be fun!’ Little did I know what was about to transpire.

We started up this road only to watch the road get narrower and narrower, until the road was barely wide enough for two vehicles to pass. In addition to that, it was later in the afternoon so the sun was right in my eyes. I was the lead car, and because of the sun I could not see anything coming. There were a couple of cars behind me and no place to turn around, so I have no choice but to continue on. I am driving as close to the side of the mountain as I could get, so that I do not hit the cars that I can not see coming!!

So crawling along at 5 mph and stopping numerous times because I could not see, we finally made it to the top. Only to have to return down that same mountain road with no guard rails and only a 1000 foot drop to stop you, as well as trying to avoid cars that could not see me coming. I thought Judy and I were going to die, and I realized that I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was!!

If you knew that you were going to die within hours what would you do? Would you call your children, check to make sure your will was in order, eat your favorite meal, make relationships right?

The Reverend John Harper was a Scottish Baptist pastor at the Paisley Road Baptist Church in Glasgow, Scotland. Under his care, the church quickly grew from 25 members to over 500 and in 1923, the church was moved into its present building on Craigiehall Street and was renamed Harper Memorial Baptist Church in his honor.

Rev. Harper was on his way by ship from England to Chicago to preach for several weeks at the famous Moody Church, where he had been guest minister the previous fall. A widower, Harper was accompanied by his six year old daughter, Nina, and his sister Jessie W. Leitch. Standing at the railing of this great ocean liner, Titanic, on the night of April 14, 1912, he said to his daughter and sister, “It will be beautiful in the morning.” Little did Rev. Harper realize how true that statement would be for him!

On that evening the ship hit an iceberg and was lost. Being a widower Harper may have been allowed to join his daughter but instead, forsook his own rescue choosing to provide the masses with one more chance to know Christ. Harper ran from person to person, passionately telling others about Christ. As the water began to submerge the “unsinkable” ship, Harper was heard shouting, “women, children, and the unsaved into the lifeboats.”

Women, children, and the unsaved into the lifeboats!

Reverend John Harper, onboard the sinking Titanic
April 14, 1912

Rebuffed by a certain man at the offer of salvation, Harper gave him his own life vest saying, “You need this more than I do.” Harper made his way around the boat preaching the gospel to whomever would listen until he was forced to abandon ship. He was just one of 1,498 who jumped into the freezing waters of the North Atlantic to their death.

The ship disappeared beneath the deep frigid waters leaving hundreds floundering in its wake with no realistic chance for rescue. Harper struggled through hyperthermia to swim to as many people as he could, still sharing the Gospel. Harper eventually would lose his battle with hypothermia but not before giving many people one last glorious Gospel witness.

Four years after the tragedy at a Titanic survivor’s meeting in Ontario, Canada, one survivor recounted his interaction with Harper in the middle of the icy waters of the Atlantic. He testified he was clinging to ship debris when Harper swam up to him, twice challenging him with a biblical invitation to “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” He rejected the offer once. Yet given the second chance and with miles of water beneath his feet, the man gave his life to Christ. Then as Harper succumbed to his watery grave, this new believer was rescued by a returning lifeboat. As he concluded his remarks at the Ontario meeting of survivors he simply stated, “I am the last convert of John Harper.”

What would you do if you knew that you only had hours to live? The verse that Rev. Harper kept repeating as the Titanic sank was “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” Acts 16:31 is as powerful today as it was on April 14, 1912.

If you know Christ as your Savior, make a commitment to share the Good News of Christ until your last breath. If you don’t know Christ, accept Him today before you breathe your last breath and it becomes too late.

If you have never accepted Christ, allow this song to tell you how much God the Father loves you…

Categories: Pastor's Blog