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Everyone seemed confident that the ship was all right," recalled first-class passenger Henry Sleeper Harper. At last, however, the call came for all passengers to come up on deck wearing their life belts, and soon after midnight, Captain Smith directed crew members to ready the 16 wooden lifeboats and four collapsible boats. The noise on deck was horrendous as steam was released to ease pressure on the Titanic’s boilers. Over the din, Lightoller shouted to the Captain for permission to begin loading the boats, and the Captain nodded his agreement.

Many women were reluctant to leave their husbands and the apparent safety of the huge ship for a 70-foot drop down to the dark ocean in the tiny wooden boats. Some had to be forcefully picked up and dropped into the lifeboats by crew members. Very few of the boats were loaded to their capacity with passengers.

At 12:45, Quartermaster George Rowe fired distress rockets as lifeboat 7 was lowered with only 28 people aboard, even though it could have carried 65. Realizing the danger of their situation, many third-class passengers gathered in prayer, and five men jumped into lifeboat 5 as it descended, seriously injuring a woman passenger. By 1:15, the Titanic’s bow had plunged beneath the surface. Even as water was rising in the ship, the band continued to play and the gymnasium instructor was assisting passengers on the mechanical exercise equipment.

After the water closed over the Titanic, hundreds of people remained struggling for their lives in the freezing water. Their screams were unbearable and unforgettable for those who listened to them from the safety of the lifeboats. Nevertheless, as hundreds of men, women and children froze to death during the next hour, none of the boats rowed back to offer help.

It was only after the dreadful cries had died down that Fifth Officer Lowe transferred passengers out of lifeboat 14 and rowed it back to the site of the Titanic’s sinking. Masses of dead bodies, buoyed by the life belts, floated in the sea. Lowe and Able Seaman Joseph Scarrett were only able to pull 14 people out of the water, and only half of those survived the cold and exposure. (source: titanic-online.com)

There are people all around us in a similar situation as those Jews in the train cars, as those passengers on the Titanic that did not have a seat in a lifeboat and that floated screaming in the freezing waters. But their destination is an even worse one: they are on their way to hell. As Christians, we have the one thing that is able to save them from destruction: the gospel.

Will we sit in our half-full lifeboat having Bible studies and thanking God that we aren’t like those 3rd class passengers?

Or will we be the one boat that returns, will we pull people out of the water, cuddle up beside their shivering bodies and share our body heat even though it will make us shudder and shiver, make us wet and cold with them? Will we open the doors of the hospital, reorganize our priorities, recognize that we are called to a Mission first, and allow the Holy Spirit to teach us as apprentices in His work of redeeming mankind?

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