Pastor on Titanic preached to the end, made one last convert


By Dan Wooding —

Pastor John Harper with daughter Nan

On┬áSunday, April 14, 1912, the “unsinkable” ocean liner Titanic sank to the bottom of the ocean after hitting an iceberg. About 700 people survived, but 1,517 people perished in the frigid north Atlantic because an insufficient number of lifeboats were placed on the ship.

One of the passengers, John Harper, served as pastor of Walworth Road Baptist Church in London, England. He was a 39-year-old widower with a six-year-old daughter. Harper was en route to Chicago, where he was slated to preach for several weeks at the Moody Church, according to an account in AG News.

“His daughter and niece accompanied him on the trans-Atlantic voyage. After the Titanic hit the iceberg, his daughter and niece boarded a lifeboat and survived.

“Harper, however, refused to save himself and instead helped others to the crowded lifeboats. According to survivors, Harper preached the Gospel until his dying breath, first on the sinking ship and then in the frigid waters.”

The October 1928 issue of “The Latter Rain Evangel” (published by The Stone Church, a historic Assemblies of God congregation in Chicago), recounted the following story of John Harper’s last convert.

sinking of Titanic

“Three or four years after the Titanic foundered (1912), a young Scotsman rose in a meeting in Hamilton, Canada, and said: ‘I was on the Titanic when she sank. Drifting along on a spar in the icy water on that awful night, a wave brought John Harper of Glasgow near to me. He, too, was holding on to a piece of the wreck. “Man, are you saved?” he shouted.

“No, I am not!” was my reply.

He answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved”.

“The waves bore him away; but strange to say, a little later he was washed back alongside of me.”

“Are you saved now?”

“No!” I replied, “I cannot honestly say that I am.”

Once more he repeated the verse, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Then losing his hold he sank.

And there, alone in the night, and with two miles of water underneath me, I believed.

“I am John Harper’s last convert.”


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  1. I’m so touched by this testimony, this show how gracious and merciful our God is. This testimony reminds me of our Lord granting mercy to the man who asked Him when He was on the cross. What an awesome God we served. He’s the only true God who sent his only begotten son Jesus Christ who blood was shed on the Cross of Calvery for the remission of our sins. To God be all the glory because Jesus is the only way to heaven. Amen!

  2. I went to the exhibit in Los Vegas. I received a boarding pass and saw that it was Rev. John Harper. At the end I saw that he perished but had a strong feeling that he stayed to help console those that were dying. This confirms my feeling that he could have lived but his passion for the Lord took priority. Thank you for this. mark

  3. Amazing story! I’m convinced that not every saved person would of done this.But his faith was so strong that the vindicating hope he had in Christ surpassed all things.Realizing that we’re aliens to this earth and there is something better ahead is a comforting feeling to all believers.To die is to truly gain and helps overcome the fear of death.

    God Bless John Harper

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