(Died April 14, 1912)
The founder of the Central City Mission in Jacksonville, Florida, Robert Bateman was a minister who was not afraid to get his hands dirty in the service of Christ. Bateman came from England to personally lay the bricks of the Mission in the city where drunken sailors poured into tattoo parlours, bars and whorehouses.
While sharing the Gospel, he provided thousands of meals, clothed the needy, visited those in jail and housed the homeless. He was called "the man who distributed more human sunshine than any other in Jacksonville."
A desperate letter from a girl employed in a house of ill repute prompted Bateman to return to England to study methods of Christian social work.
During a tour investigating the hotbeds of iniquity in London, the doctor also preached in revival services in English churches. On the return voyage to America, he conducted the only religious service aboard a ship of 2,207 people, concluding with his favourite hymn "Nearer my God to Thee".
That night at 11:45 pm the ship Titanic struck an iceberg.
As Bateman escorted his sister-in-law to a lifeboat he said, "Don't be nervous, Annie. This will test our faith. I must stay and let the women go. If we never meet again on this earth, we will meet again in heaven." He threw his handkerchief into the descending lifeboat saying, "Put that around your throat. You'll catch cold."
Dr. Bateman collected about fifty men on the stern of the ship and told them to prepare for death. He led them in saying the Lord's Prayer and as the band played his favourite hymn, "Nearer my God to Thee", the great ship slid underwater.
The movies and books about the Titanic end with death. Robert Bateman, until his last breath, carried people to life. May we do the same.
A Christian martyr is one who chooses to: suffer death rather than to deny Christ or His work...sacrifice something very important to further the Kingdom of God...endure great suffering for Christian witness.
Source: The Voice of the Martyrs
Serving the persecuted Church, the Mission works in over 50 countries. To help support the Australian mission, you may contact them by email on:
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The Voice of the Martyrs
PO Box 598
Penrith NSW 2751
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