Important lessons learned from sinking of Titantic

Published 12:01 am Saturday, April 21, 2018

The British luxury liner Titanic was 882.5 feet long, or approximately the length of three football fields. At the time of its maiden voyage in 1912, it was the largest ship ever built. Among the 2,200 people aboard the Titanic were millionaires John Jacob Astor and Isidor Straus, as well as crewmembers and people from all walks of life.

The Titanic sailed from Southampton, England. Its destination was New York City. Around midnight on April 14, the ship struck an iceberg approximately 100 or so miles from Newfoundland and sank in less than three hours.

Since there were only enough lifeboats for half the passenger, acts of courage and cowardice were evident. A Scottish minister, Reverend John Harper and his daughter were traveling to America to preach at Moody Church in Chicago where he had spoken the year before.

Survivors told how Rev. Harper made certain his six-year-old daughter got into a lifeboat and then he gave his life jacket to another man. During the two hours and 40 minutes the ship was sinking, John Harper was heard shouting, “Let the women, children, and unsaved into the lifeboats.”

After the ship sank, a man clinging to a board drifted near Harper in the icy waters. “Are you saved?” Harper pleaded. The man answered, “No.”

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” shouted Harper, as the man drifted away without a response. Later, the current brought them near each other again and Reverend Harper cried out, “Are you saved?” Once again, the man said no and Harper repeated the words of Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”

Though John Harper was one of the 1,517 souls who perished, the man he called out to was rescued and put his faith in Jesus Christ. This survivor testified that he was John Harper’s last convert.

Some 705 people were picked up by the ship Carpathia. Another ship nearby did not come to the rescue because its radio operator was off duty and asleep.

Important lessons were learned from this tragedy. Afterwards, every ship had to carry enough lifeboats for every person on board and conduct lifeboat drills. But could there be other lessons we can learn from the Titanic?

For instance, two lists were posted at the Titanic’s port in England. One titled, “Lost,” listing the names of all those who lost their lives and the other titled, “Saved,” listing survivors. No matter who they were – whether wealthy, not so wealthy, officers or crew – each person was either saved or lost.

Some survivors reported hearing the Titanic’s band playing the hymn, “Nearer, My God, to Thee” as the ship went down. There’s another old hymn that speaks of souls “sinking deep in sin” and lost forever, but there is hope for anyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ who died to save us from our sins.


Jan White is an national award-winning religion columnist. She can be reached at