What does the date April 15 bring to mind? For most, April 15 means tax day, the day on which our tax filings are due (though this year I am told April 18 is tax day).
History buffs, though, may recognize it as the date on which the Titanic sunk (April 15, 1912). If you have seen the Leonardo DiCaprio film Titanic, you might be led to think that many of the men on the ill-fated boat were selfish losers who tried to save their own skin.
History records show, to the contrary, that of those who perished in the tragic sinking of the Titanic, 80 percent of men died, while 25 percent of women died. “Women and children first,” was largely the mode of thinking in this age.
There was one man, however, who took it a step further. John Harper, a committed Christian believer with a zeal for evangelism and burden for lost souls separated from God also was on that boat. As the great vessel began to sink beneath the icy waters, he shouted “Let the women, children and the unsaved into the lifeboats!”
His story is recounted in a book titled “The One Year Book of Christian History,” which gives great examples of the people of God doing mighty things because of God.
Harper, years before the Titanic’s voyage, nearly drowned on another ocean vessel. Surviving the experience, he said, “The fear of death did not for one minute disturb me. I believed that sudden death would be sudden glory.”
That same confidence in Christ shone through on the fateful night of the Titanic’s sinking. One survivor shared that prior to slipping beneath the waters to his death, Harper shared the Gospel with him. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” said Harper, citing the book of Acts.
The man who heard the Gospel was picked up by a lifeboat and was rescued. Because of Harper, he repented from his sins and believed in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and was eternally rescued, saved unto eternal life.
When I compare Harper’s commitment to evangelism to that of mine, I am ashamed. In my worst moments, I am waiting for perfect conditions, for just the right moment, before I step out to share the words of life.
Harper, meanwhile, in life and in his death shared without ceasing and proved that God can use moments of disaster and desperation for his glory, if we will just be available.