Famous Last Words

Good morning friends,

Hope you’re all well and happy. Tony and I have had a great week, taking our government’s suggestion that we discover the sights close to home until travel restrictions are lifted. In an effort to comply, we took a little 3-day wander up into northern Queensland.  Even though it’s winter, the tropical nature leaves it chilly but beautiful and we’ve returned happy and refreshed. Up there in the middle of the north, you can find the stomping grounds of the late Steve Irwin, otherwise known as “the Crocodile Hunter”.  He had a T.V. show back in the 90’s that attracted quite a following.

Steve was known for his enthusiasm for wildlife and his daring encounters with them.  While filming “Worlds Most Dangerous Animals” in 2006, he closed in on a giant stingray for one of his classic shots; nose to nose so to speak.  I’m sure he was explaining with his trademark enthusiasm about how they are misunderstood…or endangered, or some such, but the stingray must have gotten offended and gave him a flick of his tail as he scurried out of the photo.  Unfortunately, the lethal barb pierced Steve’s heart, and he died almost instantly.

I’m not going to call Steve a “Hero of the faith” for several reasons.  I’ve just finished reading another book about him, and I, along with many Australians have to say, although theologically he was sort of ‘out there’, the guy was passionate about what he DID believe in, (saving wildlife), and went to the N’th degree to show it.  Actually he and his family have done HEAPS of good things, and continue to do so, for the long-term protection of endangered species in Australia and all over the world.

But what I want to say is more about “passion” and not really about Steve.  Another story popped up this last week that reminded me about passionate people. Many of you would have seen it, but I thought I’d give him a well-deserved focus since his passion went far beyond environmental issues.

His name was John Harper and he, as a Scottish Baptist minister, was all about seeing the lost come to Jesus. Many were the men, women and children who ventured within range and were awarded with the complete plan of salvation, right from the Bible. Perhaps some were offended by his zeal, but all that was forgotten the night John found himself in the icy waters around the sinking Titanic. After seeing that his daughter and sister were safely in a lifeboat, he began to swim to the hundreds of struggling passengers around him. Skipping the preliminaries, he would come up close and shout out, “Are you saved?” This elicited several responses, but among them were several who prayed to receive Christ.

One man refused his appeal rather vehemently, so John took off his life jacket and gave it to him, saying, “Here then, you need this more than I do,” and swam over to someone else.  Later he came back around to the man, and together they prayed a prayer of confession.

Eventually the numbing cold water took the life of John. Of the 1,528 people who went into the water, only six were rescued by the lifeboats, including this new Christian who was wearing John’s life jacket.  Four years later, at a survivors meeting, this same man recounted how John Harper had led him to the Lord.   He went on to share how he was one of the few who heard John’s last words, shouted out as he went down for the last time, “Believe on the Name of the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”

Thankfully for most, it doesn’t take a sinking ship to bring a person to Christ. The Good News itself, prompted by God’s Holy Spirit, is enough to remind most of us that we all need His saving grace.

Beyond that, we would all do well to remember John Harper, a real “Hero of the Faith”.

Whatever situation you find yourself in this week, be it a sinking ship or a CoVid-laced conversation, take the opportunity to offer the question in whatever words are appropriate, “Are you saved?”

Till next time, the Lord willing,


“Whatever your hand finds to do, do with your might; for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.”

(Ecclesiates 9:10)

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