Rescue the Perishing
Earlier this year marked the 70-year anniversary of one of the worst maritime disasters in Britain’s history: The Sinking of the MV Princess Victoria. The ship was designed to ferry people and their vehicles between the port of Stranraer in South-West Scotland and Larne in Ireland across the Irish Sea. On January 31, 1953, the ferry was heading for Ireland with 179 people on board – but never arrived.
The flawed design of the ship meant that the car deck was flooded as ferocious waves pounded against her, in the worst storm anyone could remember. Distress messages were sent out, but the confusion of the storm meant that most of the time, the wrong location was broadcast. Finally able to get their bearings, the radio operator stayed at his post, allowing others to escape. He broadcast SOS messages until the very end and was posthumously awarded the George Cross. The captain and ship’s officers all went down with the ship. 135 perished and only 44 survived.
Although largely forgotten, Princess Victoria was the Titanic of its generation and remains one of the biggest peacetime maritime disasters in British waters.
On board the ship that night was Nancy Bryson, a missionary who has been called ‘the heroine of Princess Victoria’. She was back on furlough from Kenya with her husband and three children and was returning to Northern Ireland after speaking at some meetings in Scotland. According to her daughter: ‘She was one of the bravest women on board who whispered words of comfort to other passengers and led them in singing a hymn. She also tried to help a three-year-old child into one of the lifeboats but failed to do so, going under (the water) herself in the process.’
Poet William Thompson a committed Christian and someone who knew the sorrow of losing a loved one at sea wrote a lengthy poem recounting the events that night and the heroism of Nancy Bryson. Below is a portion of his poem:
‘The last few hours of her life were gladly given o’erIn bringing consolation to hearts now sad and sore;She spoke of Jesus and His love, and all His power to save,She told the tale of heaven and home, and life beyond the grave.As Nancy Bryson told the tale of Jesus’ wondrous loveWe know that many passed that day into the home above.Where there is no more sorrow, no parting, and no sea,Upon whose shore no storm will beat through all Eternity.Tho’ Nancy Bryson has passed on, ‘tis true she speaketh still,Her fame has gone through all the world, and surely ever will.God had her there on purpose, upon that ship that day,To point the soul to Jesus, the true and living way’.
We are approaching the Easter Season when people are as open as at any time to the gospel message. I trust you will be inviting people to join us for our Easter celebrations where they will have the opportunity to hear the good news of the gospel. May God give us the courage to speak the gospel message to those perishing around us