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Pearls of the Kingdom

While on vacation I was listening to an audio commentary on this passage of scripture from Acts.


Acts 16:29-34 “The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.”


The name, John Harper was mentioned during the commentary. Am I the only one who doesn’t know his story? What a powerful testimony to this Scottish Evangelist. Stay with me as I share a snapshot of this remarkable Pastor.


John Harper had a reputation as an evangelist. After a successful time in 1910 at the Moody Church in Chicago he was offered the opportunity to speak here again. After having the sense that something tragic was going to happen friends of Harper insisted that he wait and take another ship. Taking his daughter with him they set sail on the Titanic.


After the Titanic hit the iceberg John Harper helped get his daughter into a lifeboat. Staying on deck he helped where he could and sharing the gospel with others. As the ship sank John found himself in the icy cold waters with many others that night. The story goes of John while floating was asking people, “are you saved?” For those who responded, no He spoke this scripture verse found in Acts, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” Another story that was shared, John knew he would not make it this night in the icy waters. He took off his life jacket and gave it to another person, “you need this more than I do.”


There was a reunion of the survivors four years later. A man spoke up and gave his testimony on how he was rescued and his conversation that night. Can we say he was saved twice that night? There is no way of telling how many John encountered this night on the deck and in the icy waters. We do not know how many more believed in Jesus this night. But, what if it was just for this one man?


Some might feel how could this happen to such a powerful evangelist. Wouldn’t he have accomplished much more if he had made it to Moody Church? More people would have benefited from his 3 months of preaching. It may have been better for Moody Church if he had made it, but think of the many lives that would not have heard John’s message this night, “are you saved.”


John Harper didn’t preach a lengthy sermon this night. No altar calls. John Harper had a heart of compassion for the lost that moved him to ask, “are you saved?”


I share this with you as I find myself challenged and convicted through John Harpers’ story. What would I have done that night as the ship was sinking? Do I have the same heart for the lost asking, “Are you saved?” Would I give up my life jacket for another, another who needs it more than I do?


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