TITANICA - Phillip Orr
That summer night as the Rann children’s mission
Drew to a close, the preacher shared the tale of one young man,
- Saved when a boy - who walked the Mayo roads
And preached God’s Word to the Romanists,
No bitterness in his heart just love for lost mankind.
At 21, he headed on to help evangelise America,
Asleep in steerage on that April night when a huge
Atlantic billow crashed through the riven hold.
What greater evidence did boys and girls all need
Of a brave lad still on fire for Christ though tragedy
Loomed than the word of a shivering survivor
On the deck of the Carpathia who saw a preacher boy
Stand still on the tilting deck, an open Bible in his hand,
Who yelled - ‘Get the unsaved into the lifeboats first!
If you are a child of God you need not fear the waves!’
Another lady, saved from the deep, would speak
In later years with fading memory of how she’d watched
From a jam-packed lifeboat a young man cling
To a spar while floating by with pillows, handbags,
Walking sticks, the linen and the half-drowned human forms –
‘Sisters, brothers, heed my call! Get right with Christ!
Don’t trust in anyone else to stay above the waves!’
When Belfast’s pride and joy had slipped beneath the waterline
She heard that Ulster voice pipe up again then fade.
The preacher stopped - we sat there thunderstruck
While lemonade and bags of buns were handed out,
And a call went up for boys and girls who’d ‘like to give
Their hearts to Christ tonight’ to simply raise one hand.
I slipped out, faint, when a final hymn struck up and told
The adult on the door my mother wanted me at home.
I walked the laneway un-convinced, as still I have to be,
That what I stood upon back then was solid ground.
Philip Orr is a writer, thinker and teacher interested in conflict transformation.