A man named John Harper was born in a Christian home in Glasgow, Scotland in 1872. When he was about 14 years old, he became a Christian himself and he was a passionate evangelist from a young age. At 17 years old, he began to preach, going up and down the streets of his village pouring his soul in passionate pleading for men to be reconciled to God.
After years of working in the mill during the day and evangelizing at night on street corners, he eventually became a pastor of his own small church. The church grew strong over his tenure there and during that time he was both married and widowed. Before he lost his wife though, God bless Harper with a beautiful little girl named Nana.
Over Harper’s life, he had many dramatic events fall upon him. He almost drowned several times, when he was just under 3 years of age, he fell down a well and had to be resuscitated by his mother. At 26, he was swept out to sea by a reverse current and barely survived. At 32, he faced death on a leaking ship in the Mediterranean. But all these brushes with death did was to confirm in his own mind his need to evangelize, which marked out his days.
And so while pastoring a church in London, he was asked by the Moody Church in Chicago to come over to America for a series of meetings. And so one day, he boarded a ship with a second-class ticket out of Southampton, England, headed toward America with his daughter, Nana.
One night on this voyage, Nana many years later would retell the story of her being woken up by her father a few nights into their journey. It was about midnight and the ship they were on had struck an iceberg. Harper told his daughter that another ship was just about to rescue them, but as a precaution, he was going to put her on a lifeboat with an older cousin who had accompanied them and Harper would wait until the other ship arrived.
The story thereafter is only known due to a young Scotsman who in a prayer meeting in Ontario, some months later, told of the amazing story of his conversion. He explained that he had been on the Titanic the night it was struck by an iceberg on April 15, 1912. He had clung to a piece of floating debris in the freezing waters.
Suddenly a wave brought a man near, John Harper. He, too, was holding a piece of wreckage. He called out to me, “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 the 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.