One hundred years ago, on 15 Aril 2005, RMS Titanic hit an iceberg and sank. The ship had been built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast and was thought to be unsinkable. She was the largest ship in the world at that time. She had set sail from Southampton on her maiden voyage just 5 days earlier with 2,200 passengers and crew. When the Titanic sank 1500 people died and 700 survived. I used to visit an elderly lady who was one of the survivors. She was a small child when Titanic sank and was put into one of the lifeboats. She lived to be 100 years old.
Of the 1528 people who fell into the icy water that terrible night only 6 survived. One of the survivors had a remarkable story to tell. One of his fellow passengers was a Scottish Baptist minister, John Harper. He was travelling with his 6 year old daughter to visit Moody Church, Chicago where he had been invited to preach for 3 months. When the ship began to sink John Harper made sure his daughter was in one of the lifeboats. As the freezing waters began to fill the ship Harper shouted, “Let the women and children get into the lifeboats.” He also took off his own life jacket and gave it to another man.
It was not long before John fell into the icy waters. As many were drowning and freezing to death he swam to as many as he could telling them the good news that Jesus Christ gives us eternal life. One young man, who survived, had climbed on to a piece of debris. As John was struggling in the water he shouted to the man, “Are you saved?” The man replied, “No.” John then shouted, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” The man didn’t answer and began to drift away from John on the waves but a few minutes later came near John again. Once again John urged him to receive Jesus as his Saviour before disappearing below the waves for the last time. Clinging to the debris the man prayed to God and received Jesus Christ as his Saviour. Four years later, at a Titanic survivors’ meeting in Canada, he tearfully gave his testimony of how John Harper had led him to commit his life to Jesus. Now he knew that even though he died he would live, just as John did.