Dude. So, I need to stop feeling the urge to blog when it’s almost midnight. It seems like a great idea that can’t wait right now, but, in 7 hours when I have to wake up…that’s a different story.
BUT, I really wanted you all to read this story because it’s awesome and convicting. It’s in a book, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever that I’m reading right now. I’ve been super convicted lately with my extreme lack of proclaiming the Gospel and telling people about Christ. I mean, that’s what we’re here for. I’m so selfish and prideful and cowardly that I continually make up excuses or whatnot. God break me of this! This has been the prayer as of late…along with a lot of others because, as you know, I’m a pitiful sinner but, currently being sanctified! Praise God.
Alrighty. It may seem kind of long, but, totally worth the read.
John Harper was born in a Christian home in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1872. When he was about fourteen years old, he became a Christian himself, and from that time on, he began to tell others about Christ. At seventeen years of age, he began to preach, going down the streets of his village and pouring out his soul in passionate pleading for men to be reconciled to God.
After five or six years of toiling on street corners preaching the gospel and working in the mill during the day, Harper was taken in by the Reverend E.A. Carter of Baptist Pioneer Mission in London. This set Harper free to devote his whole time and energy to the work so dear to his heart–evangelism. Soon, in September 1896, Harper started his own church. This church, which he began with just twenty-five members, numbered over five hundred by the time he left thirteen years later. During this time he had been both married and widowed. Before he lost his wife, God blessed Harper with a beautiful girl named Nana.
Harper’s life was an eventful one. he almost drowned several times. When he was two-and-a-half years of age, he fell into a well but was resuscitated by his mother. At the age of twenty-six, he was swept out to sea by a reverse current and barely survived. And at thirty-two he faced death on a leaking ship in the Mediterranean. If anything, these brushes with death simply seemed to confirm John Harper in his zeal for evangelism, which marked him out for the rest of his life.
While pastoring his church in London, Harper continued his fervent and faithful evangelism. In fact, he was such a zealous evangelist that the Moody Church in Chicago asked him to come over to America for a series of meetings. he did, and they went well. A few years later, Moody Church asked him if he would come back again. And so it was that Harper boarded a ship one day with a second-class ticket at Southampton, England for the voyage to America.
Harper’s wife had died just a few years before, and he had with him his only child, Nana, age six. What happened after this we know mainly from two sources. One is Nana, who died in 1986 at the age of eighty. She remembered being woken up by her father a few nights into their journey. It was about midnight, and he said that the ship they were on had struck and iceberg. Harper told Nana that another ship was just about there to rescue them, but, as a precaution, he was going to put her in lifeboat with an older cousin, who had accompanied them. As for Harper, he would wait until the other ship arrived.
The rest of the story is a tragedy well known. Little Nana and her cousin were saved. But the ship they were on was the Titanic. The only way we know what happened to John Harper is because in a prayer meeting in Hamilton, Ontario, some months later, a young Scotsman stood up in tears and told the extraordinary story of how he was converted. He explained that he had been on the Titanic the night it struck the iceberg. He had clung to a piece of floating debris in the freezing waters. “Suddenly,” he said, “a wave brought a man near, John Harper. He, too, was holding a piece of wreckage.
“He called out, ‘Man, are you saved?’
” ‘No, I am not,” I replied.
“He shouted back, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
“The waves bore [Harper] away, but a little later, he was washed back beside me again, ‘Are you saved now?’ he called out.
” “No, ‘ I answered. ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.’
“Then losing his hold on the wood, [Harper] sank. And, there, alone in the night with two miles of water under me, I trusted Christ as my savior. I am John Harper’s last convert.”
Even as I typed this story out, tears welled up in my eyes. Saints, may we not read this and think, “Wow, nice story. Too bad I could never be like him.” Oh, that God would stir up inside us an INSATIABLE DESIRE to spread the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ without abandon!! We make up excuses that we’re not “adequate” or “holy enough”, or “evangalism isn’t our spiritual gift” or “that’s for pastors and those crazy radical evangelistic people”etc. etc. Oh, no, no, no, saints…there’s no such thing as “good enough”, “holy enough”, “adequate enough”…The only thing good in us is Jesus Christ and if we claim to love Him so much, then we’d tell the world.