The Titanic’s Heroic Pastor
JOHN SHIRK – April 15 was the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster. John Harper was on that ship. He was a Baptist pastor who was on the way to preach at Moody Church in Chicago. He never made it. But before he died, John Harper did a number of heroic things.
First, he took his 6 year-old daughter who was with him on the ship to a lifeboat. He stayed on the ship, preaching the Gospel to the end. Even after he jumped into the sinking water, survivors said that he attempted to convert those who were in the freezing water, before dying himself. He referred to Acts 16:31, which says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” One particular man was clinging to the ship’s debris when Harper swam to him and challenged him twice to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. He rejected the first offer, but gave his life to Christ at the second invitation. At a Titanic Survivor’s meeting in Canada 4 years later, the survivor told his story and said, “I am the last convert of John Harper.”
John Harper looked out for both his daughter’s physical protection and the need for spiritual salvation of the lost around him. In a time of crisis, the measure of John Harper’s character was tested, and he rose to the occasion. His story is told in the book, “The Titanic’s Last Hero”.