Wayne Vincent

The Gospel Preacher on the Titanic

Harper took hold of the debris I clung to. His face was pale, his lips blue from imminent hyperthermia, above the sound of the turmoil around me though his voice was weakening I heard him ask, “Are you saved?” I replied, “No.” Harper shouted the words, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved.” Even in my desperation, something in me wanted to reject his offer. Waves drifted us apart, but a few minutes later the current brought us together. In one final attempt to persuade me to accept the remedy for my lost soul, again Harper shouted, “Are you saved?” He asked me to believe in Jesus. Then he slipped under the waves for the last time, never to be seen in this world again. 

Like me, you may never have heard of John Harper. It was a surprise for me to discover that he played a pivotal role in helping many people caught up in an event that has captured the imaginations of countless millions. It was the sinking of the Titanic.
With his “six-year-old daughter [Annie], and his sister, he boarded the Titanic… for the privilege of preaching at one of the greatest churches in America, Moody Church in Chicago, named for its famous founder Dwight L. Moody.”
Deadly Disaster
This disaster occurred during the ship’s maiden voyage across the Northern Atlantic Ocean from Southampton, England to the USA on the night of 14 April 1912. As it steamed at a top speed of 22 mph through calm Atlantic waters, it sideswiped a large iceberg that loomed out of the darkness at about 11.40 p.m.
The collision resulted in catastrophic damage to the starboard side. The ship dubbed the ‘unsinkable’ eventually sank to the bottom of the ocean in under three hours, with the loss of over 1,500 of its 2,224 passengers! The rest were taken on board the limited number of the ship’s lifeboats.

Selfless Solicitude

Recently, I discovered a part of this story totally unknown to me. As I recount what happened, I hope you’ll allow me to use some sanctified imagination. We begin “four years after the tragedy at a Titanic survivors’ meeting in Ontario, Canada, where one survivor recounted his interaction with Harper in the middle of the icy waters of the Atlantic.”
My name is Steve Crain. Like many of you here, I am one of the survivors of the sinking of RMS Titanic. Today I want to honour one man whose heroic actions changed the future of my life.
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The Power of Desire

In the face of the contrary and sometimes antagonistic winds of our present culture, we can learn some lessons from an incident in the life of one of Jesus’ closest disciples, Peter.
Delight in the Lord with All Our Heart
Peter sat in the boat, still reeling from what he had witnessed a few hours earlier. (Matthew 14)
Peter and his friends were learning to love and obey Jesus, so they got into the boat at His command, set the sails and started across the lake.
It was only eleven kilometres to the other side; with the wind behind them, this would only be a four-hour trip. They worked the rigging and talked about the miracle they had just been a part of, when Jesus multiplied a small boy’s lunch to feed thousands.
Their conversation was soon cut short when an unexpected gust hit their boat. A squall was bearing down on them. The sails were quickly pulled down and lashed to the cross-spar.
From now on, oars were used to progress against the wind. All hands worked hard to keep the boat afloat against the onslaught of the winds and waves.
All night, the disciples struggled to make headway. Peter was confused. Why did Jesus send us across the water without Him? How was He going to get across to the other side anyway? Did He know we would encounter a windstorm? Enough thinking — their immediate task was to survive and get to the other side alive.
Only a few hours remained before dawn. They were exhausted from the constant battle against the elements. Just when they thought things couldn’t get any worse, some in the boat cried out: “It’s a ghost!”
Peter looked where the others were pointing, and there, illuminated by flashes of lightning, he saw a figure walking on the turbulent sea! Then they heard a familiar voice saying, “Take courage. It is I; do not be afraid.”

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