As the Titanic Sunk, a Soul Was Saved

Posted on February 17, 2023


A Scottish Soul-Seeker
John Harper was born in Scotland in 1872 to a Christian family. When he was presented with the message of John 3:16 at the age of 13, he believed in Jesus and received everlasting salvation.

When he was 18, he had a powerful vision of the cross of Christ. At that moment he committed his life to bringing the message of the Cross to others. The very next day he began to preach in his village, urging all his hearers to be reconciled to God. He made every street corner his pulpit.

Harper’s desire to win souls to Christ was unmatched, becoming his all-consuming purpose. An evangelist friend, W.D. Dunn, recalled often seeing Harper lying on his face before God, pleading with him to “so give me souls, or I die,” sobbing as if his heart would break.

At 32, Harper had a near-drowning experience when he was caught on a leaky ship in the Mediterranean. He said of his experience: “The fear of death did not for one minute disturb me. I believed that sudden death would be sudden glory.”

In 1911, Harper spent 3 months preaching at Moody Memorial Church in Chicago during a revival and received an enthusiastic response. He was asked to return for 3 more months of meetings beginning in April 1912. Originally scheduled to sail on the Lusitania, he sailed on the Titanic after a schedule change.

On the Titanic
When he informed his church of his intent to return to Chicago, a parishioner begged him not to go, saying that he had been praying and felt strongly that something ominous would happen if he went. He pleaded with Harper, but to no avail.

Harper felt there was a divine purpose for his trip, and he went ahead with his plans. The night before the ship sank, Harper was seen leading a man to Christ on the deck. Afterward, he looked to the west, and seeing a glint of red on the sunset he said: “It will be beautiful in the morning.”

Moments later the Titanic struck an iceberg, and the sea poured in. Mayhem ensued as most people struggled to save their own lives. As they loaded the lifeboats, Harper shouted: “Let the women, children, and unsaved into the lifeboats.” He then removed his life preserver and gave it to another man.

At 2:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912, the Titanic disappeared beneath the water. Harper and many others were left floundering in the icy waters.

One man, who was clinging to a piece of wood, saw Harper struggling in the water. Harper shouted: “Are you saved?” When the man answered “no,” Harper quoted Acts: 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”

The man did not respond, and they lost sight of each other. A few minutes later, the current brought them together again. Harper asked the same question, urging the man to believe in Jesus, and received the same answer.

Harper then slipped beneath the water, never to resurface. The man, however, did put his faith in Jesus Christ and was later rescued by a lifeboat. He testified that he was John Harper’s last convert.

Lost and Found
After the sinking of the ship, relatives and friends of the passengers gathered outside the White Star office in Liverpool, England. As news came in about the passengers, names were placed on one of two lists: “Known to Be Saved” Or “Known to Be Lost.”

The voyage had begun with 3 classes of passengers, but now it was reduced to only 2 – saved or lost. John Harper’s name was placed on the list for those “Known to Be Lost,” but it was on the “Saved” list in Heaven!

(Source: “The One Year Book of Christian History” by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten)