By Dan Wooding —
On Sunday, April 14, 1912, the “unsinkable” ocean liner Titanic sank to the bottom of the ocean after hitting an iceberg. About 700 people survived, but 1,517 people perished in the frigid north Atlantic because an insufficient number of lifeboats were placed on the ship.
One of the passengers, John Harper, served as pastor of Walworth Road Baptist Church in London, England. He was a 39-year-old widower with a six-year-old daughter. Harper was en route to Chicago, where he was slated to preach for several weeks at the Moody Church, according to an account in AG News.
“His daughter and niece accompanied him on the trans-Atlantic voyage. After the Titanic hit the iceberg, his daughter and niece boarded a lifeboat and survived.
“Harper, however, refused to save himself and instead helped others to the crowded lifeboats. According to survivors, Harper preached the Gospel until his dying breath, first on the sinking ship and then in the frigid waters.”
The October 1928 issue of “The Latter Rain Evangel” (published by The Stone Church, a historic Assemblies of God congregation in Chicago), recounted the following story of John Harper’s last convert.
“Three or four years after the Titanic foundered (1912), a young Scotsman rose in a meeting in Hamilton, Canada, and said: ‘I was on the Titanic when she sank. Drifting along on a spar in the icy water on that awful night, a wave brought John Harper of Glasgow near to me. He, too, was holding on to a piece of the wreck. “Man, are you saved?” he shouted.
“No, I am not!” was my reply.
He answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved”.
“The waves bore him away; but strange to say, a little later he was washed back alongside of me.”
“Are you saved now?”
“No!” I replied, “I cannot honestly say that I am.”
Once more he repeated the verse, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Then losing his hold he sank.
And there, alone in the night, and with two miles of water underneath me, I believed.
“I am John Harper’s last convert.”
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