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City Biz

Fishers of Men

15th April 1912 saw the world’s largest peacetime loss of life in maritime history. We are all aware of the Titanic. It was a ship built for the high life, to break records to sail the seas in 5 Star luxury, she had beautiful lines, able to cut through the sea with ease. She was designed to be the safest ship afloat with watertight bulkheads to prevent flooding. On her maiden voyage across the Atlantic she struck an Iceberg that had drifted south and the impossible happened. The captain didn’t foresee any problems so the ship was travelling fast to break the cross Atlantic record. Unable to change direction the ship hit the Iceberg, which holed the ship below the water line. A shudder and the incredible noise of ice on metal. Too many compartments had been breached; the ship began to sink by the bow. The unsinkable ship began to go down, life rafts were deployed, but the overconfidence of the White Star Line meant that the ship had insufficient boats and life rafts for the number of people on board. Over 1500 souls were lost at sea.

Our fascination with the ship still continues, recently a deckchair from the Titanic sold for £85,000. Anything from the ship always rouses people’s curiosity. There have been many films and documentaries made about the sinking, even one about re-floating. There have been films with a romantic twist, others with heroic stories. We even have a quote referring to the stiff upper lip of the gallant passengers of the day “They rearranged the deckchairs while the Titanic sank.”

The truth is it sits at the bottom of the seabed. A rusting broken hull, which is now the last resting place of so many people, their souls lost at sea. Titanic, the movie made in 1997 with Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet is one of those films I cannot watch again. Every time it is on the TV, if I think about watching it, my stomach turns at the images in my mind of people being trapped and others drowned and lost at sea.

So why do I talk about the Titanic? Only because it is such a sad story which we cannot help but be moved by.

Every day we see stories of loss of life, the smugglers in the Mediterranean Sea, the terrible earthquake in Nepal, somehow we become immune to the loss of these people, what is a headline one day is old news the next.

I purposely used a sea terminology “Soul” because each and every person who lost/loses their lives has a soul! They are not just a body made up of chemical parts but each has an eternal soul, the part of us that goes on eternally. I guess the big question is where we will spend eternity?

We spend so much time focused on the here and now that eternity seems a long way away, it doesn’t seem to be in our focus much. If we saw someone go overboard on a ship, we would soon raise the alarm; throw a rope, a life belt. We would do all we could to save that person; if they were buried we would try to dig them out, to save them. We would be so glad if they managed to be saved.

The night the Titanic sank, other ships were in the vicinity saw the flares in the air, they just thought it was a passing ship setting off some fireworks, unaware of what was happening just a few miles away. They carried on steaming, carried on partying, unaware of the tragedy unfolding and the loss of souls that was to take place. We like to think that we would have done differently. Reinhard Bonnke in his evangelism course “Fire” starts the first session with a boat on the high seas, they are on a cruise enjoying themselves, while outside a storm has caused a ship to sink. The mayday goes up and a call goes out to the nearest ship to go to the aid of the stricken vessel. Discussions break out, “let somebody else go, we are enjoying ourselves!” “Stop the boat lets go and save them” some broke out the life rafts, others were too afraid, and some just carried on partying.

The ship depicts the church in the world, people all around us in the water needing a saviour, needing someone to save them otherwise their soul will be lost, “lost at sea.” Lost for eternity and separated from God. Shut out of Heaven, destined to spend eternity in… Let’s not mention the word in case we offend. Sooner offend than lose a “soul” without trying.

Reinhard Bonnke has a saying which I saw many years ago “Let’s plunder Hell to populate Heaven”. Let’s save people from Hell to make sure we see them in Heaven!

We are having an Evangelistic month over May, a concentrated period of outreach; there are loads of events to invite people to. I wondered if we saw people as lost and drowning we might be more inclined in trying to save them. Where would you be if you were on the Good Ship Church and the call went out to rescue the lost?

Let’s be a Peter and become “fishers of men”.