In the early hours of Tuesday 9th November, Lenora fought her final battle with pain and entered eternity. It has been a long and difficult battle with cancer, but she fought it bravely.
In July 2010, during Lenora’s first bout with cancer, I asked her what she wanted. Lenora looked intensely at me and declared: “I want to live long enough to see my grandchildren.”
Lenora, the youngest daughter of Bill and Harriet Bathman, was born at dawn on 16th November 1960 in Eastbourne, Sussex, England. She was named after Bill Bathman’s mother, Lenora, who was the youngest daughter of her mother, whose name was also Lenora. Lenora’s grandmother died of cancer in her early forties.
Born in England to American missionary parents, raised in Austria, Lenora went on many missions with her father. Rev. Bill Bathman energetically ministered throughout Eastern Europe, behind the Iron Curtain.
Lenora had the joy of having many missionary legends visiting in their home and seated around the dinner table. This included: Brother Andrew of God’s Smuggler, Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand of Tortured for Christ, George Verwer of Operation Mobilisation, Francis Grim of Hospital Christian Fellowship and many more.
Lenora loved travelling with her father on ministry behind the Iron Curtain and had many friends in Romania, where she chose to be baptised. As Lenora put it, she wanted to be baptised where it really meant a lot – actually a matter of life and death.
Lenora loved skiing. Her parents said that, when she was five-years-old, they put skis on her, pushed her out the front door and she skied down the road to Kindergarten in Grossgmain.
Every village in Austria has its own dialect. Lenora was the only one in her family who spoke that local dialect, in addition to Hochdeutsch. Lenora was as fluent in German as she was in English and also learnt French at school to an extent that, when we visited Paris, they commented that Lenora spoke French “without a trace of an accent!”
Skiing was a sport Lenora was born for. Skiing was a school sport and Lenora was soon separated from the rest and given special coaching to improve her skills as part of the advanced skiing group. As her father liked to say: “Lenora was being groomed for the Olympics!”
Lenora said that the biggest sacrifice for her moving to Africa was giving up skiing. She was determined that all her children learn an Alpine sport and so ice-skating was part of our home school curriculum. So much so that our second daughter, Daniela, excelled to the point of earning National Colours and representing South Africa overseas in synchronised ice-skating in France, Italy and the United States of America. Daniela now coaches ice-skating in her spare time.
Before I met Lenora, she had completed her Bachelor of Science in Education with an emphasis in physical education for Special Education. She studied at Northern Arizona University, which just happened to have some of the finest ski slopes nearby. Northern Arizona University (NAU) at Flagstaff, is at an elevation of 7,200 feet above sea level. Bill Bathman commented to his daughter: “I trust that you will not let your studies interfere with your skiing!” Lenora worked as a ski instructor during the winter and won many contests in women’s freestyle downhill competitions.
After graduating from NAU, Lenora studied at Capernwray Bible College in England. This was part of Major Ian Thomas’ Torchbearers. After graduating from Bible College, she worked on staff at the Tauernhof, Torchbearers’ Bible College in Schladming, Austria.
This was also, coincidentally, right next to one of the finest ski slopes in Europe. The door to the mission house where she lived was less than 100 feet from a gondola lift, that, within 26 minutes, took her to the top of the Alps and provided not only a breath- taking view, but a stunning run - down an Olympic slope.
During my first ministry tour to the USA, in February 1988, General Ben Partin (USAF) pointed out to me that his good friend, Rev. Bill Bathman, whom I had met and for whom I had organised speaking engagements amongst the military in South Africa, was setting off to South Africa with his beautiful, young, single, missionary daughter, Lenora, whom I should meet. “You two have a lot in common,” declared the General. Like the precision-guided missiles that General Partin designed, he was on target.
I began to be concerned that I would miss meeting Bill Bathman’s daughter because she was visiting South Africa at the same time that I was visiting America. And I still had a mission to Germany ahead.
By the time I returned to South Africa after this 2½ month tour to Europe and North America, I learnt that Lenora Bathman had already visited Cape Town and was now up at Swakopmund, South West Africa. So, I phoned her and asked how much time she still had in the country. Barely a week.
So, I asked if she could meet me in Kimberley, as I had a Missions Conference coming up there. As she had an open South African Airways ticket, which enabled her to fly to any location within South Africa (which at that time included South West Arica) it was easy for her to add a flight to Kimberley and we arranged to meet in two days’ time.
Even though I had not yet met Lenora, I had heard enough about her from Bill Bathman, General Partin and another good friend of ours in England, Elizabeth Arbuthnot. I had a good idea that this could be the person I was going to marry.
It was with great excitement that I packed my vehicle, snatched less than two hours sleep, between midnight and 2:00 am and then began the 1,000 km drive to Kimberley to welcome her off the flight from South West Africa.
My first words to her were: “Miss Bathman, I presume? No time for formalities, we have a Missions Conference to attend and a display to set up.” I noticed that Lenora was impeccably dressed and had a carpet fabric handbag.
We spent the next 12 hours in constant conversation and by the time I delivered her to her hosts for the night, the house was ominously pitch dark. We evidently woke someone up with the doorbell who looked most put out at the lateness of the hour. We were apologetic. We really had lost track of time.
While in Kimberley, I took Lenora with me to a Chaplains service which I was invited to address at the local military base. I challenged Lenora: “There are over 1,000 soldiers here who have not seen a woman in the last three months. I want you to speak to them.”
Obviously, she felt intimidated, but she went ahead, showed her courage and passed the test. Within the next few days, I placed an application form for Frontline Fellowship before her and challenged her to join our mission. This she did, but not without letting me know what she expected of me as a mission leader. In fact, Lenora provided me with a 2½ page typed list of Biblical requirements for a leader and to this she appended a half page of what I could, in turn, expect from her. All this was backed up with Scriptures from the book of Timothy.
Under the question: “Why do you want to join Frontline Fellowship?” Lenora wrote: “To fight communism.” I was impressed.
Lenora returned to America to sell her car, pay off her remaining college debt, raise support and pack up her belongings to move to South Africa. Lenora set up our administrative base in a barn, Die Schuur, as it was called, which often had rain running down on the insides of the walls.
Lenora bristled at what she called my abrasive manner and let me know that she thought I was too harsh and impatient. She reminded me that she was not like the other Frontline girls, who had all come through the Army! But there was no doubting her love for the Lord, dedication to missions and hatred of communism.
After a couple of months, my mother asked me when I was planning to marry Lenora. I told her that I was trusting the Lord for the means to afford an engagement ring. “Oh for goodness sakes,” she exclaimed. “Here, take my engagement ring. You can use that.” I was astounded. I never expected my mother to hand over her engagement ring, but now I had no excuse and nothing to keep me from proposing.
Shortly after our wedding, Lenora and I headed off to Europe to join her parents in ministry behind the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe. Lenora was a pro at Bible smuggling and outwitting Marxist border guards. She was obviously much loved in the churches of Eastern Europe.
Many missionaries are held back by their wives. Lenora was not like that. She was as dedicated to the Mission and as committed to the cause as I am. She would sometimes push me out the door and tell me that it was time for another mission.
Being a well-travelled daughter of missionaries, moving between Austria, America and Africa, Lenora could comfortably move between speaking German, Austrian Grossgmain dialect, English or French. She could speak to an American with an American accent and to a South African with a South African accent. When we had been married barely six months and I was captured and imprisoned in communist Mozambique, a newspaper reporter wrote: “Lenora Hammond, who claims to be American, but who speaks with a distinctly South African accent ...” In 1988, when Lenora moved to South Africa, she attended classes every week for a year to learn Afrikaans.
Lenora was always athletic. Although she could not bring her skis to South Africa, she brought her racing bike and completed The Argus cycling tour on a number of occasions. She eagerly participated in our mission mountain climbs and hikes. After contracting cancer in 2010, Lenora became an enthusiastic Dragon Boat paddler. Lenora even recruited each of us in the family to join in Dragon boating in Table Bay Harbour. It became a regular outing for me on Saturday mornings to join Lenora, often as the only male paddler in the back of the boat. I was even included as part of their team in a number of races.
Lenora’s best friend in Cape Town, Jo-anne, joined the Belles Dragon Boating team, even though not a cancer survivor. Jo-anne has become a vital part of the Dragon Boating fraternity and has trained to become one of the few people capable of helming (steering) the boats. Much of the equipment that we needed to make Lenora’s last weeks comfortable were provided by Jo-anne.
Lenora also loved singing and enjoyed being part of a quartet and later the Cape Town Symphony Choir. Lenora had the privilege of singing Hayden’s The Creation, Stainer’s The Crucifixion, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion. Carols by Candlelight and Handel’s Messiah were some of her favourite performances of any year and she had the opportunity of singing in St. Georges Cathedral and Strand Street Lutheran Church, the oldest Protestant church still operational in the Southern Hemisphere.
In 2009, Lenora donated a kidney to our son, Christopher, who went from renal failure to such a peak of fitness that he earned National colours in Karate and represented South Africa overseas, bringing back bronze medals from international events.
When Lenora was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, she joined the Belles Dragon Boating Team and was soon Chairman of The Belles. Lenora was part of the team during the World Dragon Boating Festival in Malaysia. She also joined other Cancer Survivor boating teams in Spain, America, Vienna, Austria and in Venice, Italy. We have numerous magazine and newspaper articles where Lenora was the spokesperson for the cancer survivors. Lenora was interviewed on radio and TV programmes. Lenora made ministering to people with cancer a major priority and became one of the counsellors for Reach for Recovery.
Lenora proved to be a wonderful mother and talented home educator. Our home was turned into a school that seemed to specialise in extra-mural activities. Both Andrea and Daniela enjoyed practising on the piano and completed the Royal Academy of Music exams. Music and guitar lessons, art classes at Frank Joubert Art School, Irish dancing, Girl Guides, Scouts, soccer, tennis, ballet and of course ice-skating were vital parts of their education. (To this I added horse riding, regular visits to museums, battle sites, national parks and volunteering to help out at the SPCA horse unit, dog kennels, catteries, animal welfare society, Animal Anti-Cruelty League, SANCCOB, neighbour clean-ups, tree planting campaigns, hikes in the forest and so much more).
So many people are concerned about socialising and others are concerned about sports. Well, none of these were a problem for our children, Lenora made sure of that. Each of our children are a tribute to their mother’s dedication, determination and creativity in ensuring that every one of our children excelled in their different fields.
Our eldest, Andrea, graduated with honours from Arizona Christian University, with her major in Communication with an emphasis in Journalism. Daniela excelled in Art School and at Varsity College where she graduated with honours in Graphic Design. Christopher achieved Senior Black Belt in Karate, 2nd Dan, was awarded national colours and represented South Africa overseas in the United States of America, Switzerland and Germany. He brought back two bronze medals for South Africa. He is completing his undergraduate in editing. Calvin excelled in Scouts, representing South Africa in the 2015 Jamboree in Japan. He earned gold in fencing in a national tournament. Calving has excelled in water polo, hockey and in long distance running. He represented South Africa in Biathlon in Egypt. Even while studying he has already been coaching for years at a number of schools, in water polo, hockey and long distance running. All of this is due to the emphasis Lenora gave to physical fitness, sports and academic excellence.
In 2019, Lenora spent the last months of her mother’s life caring for her in Arizona.
Lenora has been an example of diligence, a high work ethic, unselfish, sacrificial service to others. She has always been dedicated to her family and taken her duties very seriously. She has been a blessing to so many thousands of people worldwide.
In 2005, Lenora suffered hepatitis which almost took her life. She was 11 days on an IV drip, five weeks in hospital and 5 months bedridden. Yet she came out of it, fully healthy and made some of her greatest achievements in sport thereafter.
Lenora has always been a good, critical proof reader, an excellent and incisive radio interviewer, creative in catering and decorating for events and warm in counselling and hospitality. She invested her time and energy into many people.
During the initial 5 weeks lockdown in 2020, Lenora led us in morning PT and Wednesday Garden PT. We all came out of lockdown physically fitter, with our garden looking better than in many a year. We also used that time to catch up on many great classics of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen and enjoyed board games with the family.
It was a special blessing that a friend of the mission made their time share in Wilderness available to our family for a week in August last year. Lenora was at a peak fitness with long walks on beaches, hiking and paddling up rivers. It was a special time for our family.
It has been very hard for us to see the sudden deterioration in Lenora’s health over the last year. Since the hip replacement in December, she needed a walker, or crutches, to get around.
Over the last year Lenora has been in constant pain and frequent nausea. Over recent months it became increasingly difficult for her to move around. There were frequent visits to the Hospital, blood transfusions when her platelets were too low, a cocktail of medicines and supplements that needed to be imbibed. To keep all this straight, we maintained an exercise book to record when and what was taken or administered on a daily basis.
Lenora was adamant that she wanted to die at home amongst her family and not in the hospital amongst strangers. While none of us are medically trained, we sought to rise to the challenge and honour her wishes by becoming her caregivers. We received guidance and help from Hospice. All manner of equipment was borrowed or rented in order to accommodate and care for Lenora as her health rapidly deteriorated. We brought in an oxygen support machine.
With frequent scheduled power failures, we became adept at sprinting down the hallway to turn on the generator to keep her oxygen flowing uninterrupted through the night. Friends and family members came up with creative ways of making her life more comfortable and less painful.
When Lenora was no longer able to come down to sit at the dining room table, we began bringing our meals through to the bedroom to include her in the family meal conversation.
As Lenora needed constant 24-hour care, family members took it in turns to watch her and help her throughout the day and, in my case, at night. It became difficult for Lenora to even drink. We needed to lift up the glass with a straw. After a time she was no longer even able to use the straw and we used syringes filled with water (to which we had added rehydrate packages with electrolytes and other essentials).
At the end, Lenora was skin and bones and had lost so much weight, it seemed impossible that she was still alive. We organised video calls for her sister Deborah, from Austria, to communicate with her.
A highlight of any year, for Lenora and for our family, has been the regular visits of Lenora’s eldest sister Deborah from Austria. It gave Lenora great joy to see how her sister, the teacher, could invest in the education of our children and now our grandchildren. Debbie has enriched the lives of all of us in so many ways.
Lenora’s last week was very restless and I would be up constantly throughout the night, seeking to help her, reposition her, administer medicines, or give her water through a syringe, hold her hand, read the Scriptures and pray with her.
Daniela would often have inspiring music, such as Handel’s Messiah, which both she and Lenora had sung in their choirs on numerous occasions. We are sure that all of these provided an inspiriting atmosphere and many great memories in her final days and hours. In the early hours of Tuesday, 9th November, between Level 4 power failures, Lenora passed into eternity.
Sometime after 2:00 am I must have fallen asleep and as a new power failure began at 4:00 am, I leapt up to turn on the generator, to keep the oxygen support machine running. Then I saw that Lenora was very still. She was not breathing and already cold. What I had dreaded so often before, reaching out to feel if she was still breathing through so many nights, had happened.
Everyone was so exhausted, I decided to wait until dawn to break the news to the household. At 5:00 am Hunter came running down the hallway to check why I had not turned the generator on. He was the first one I told the sad news to.
We know that Lenora was not afraid to die. She had often told people: “I know where I am going!” However, it was traumatic for all of us, to see her suffer pain and discomfort over so many months. The doctor expressed his amazement that she had lasted so long.
While nothing fully prepares one for this and we have already shed many tears, there is also, amidst the grief and loss, a sense of relief for Lenora that she is finally out of pain and free from the cursed cancer. It was one of our final acts of love and service to attempt to be her caregivers during a time of lockdown lunacy where innumerable families have been unable to visit dying relatives in Hospital.
It was Lenora’s greatest desire to live to see her grandchildren and to have her children and grandchildren “no further than 5 minutes away!” Well, that desire was certainly granted. All four of our children and all three grandsons live at the beautiful home and garden that Lenora has so lovingly built up and decorated for over three decades.
In 2010, during Lenora’s first bout with cancer, she had declared: “I want to live long enough to see my grandchildren.” She was regularly quilting for her children and future grandchildren. In 2011 we celebrated Andrea’s wedding. In 2015 the birth of our first grandson, Jeremy. In 2018, we welcomed Joshua, born in Cape Town at Vincent Pallotti Hospital (the same hospital that I was born in, when it was St Joseph’s Hospital in 1960). This year, 2021, Oliver was born, also at Vincent Pallotti.
By God’s grace, Lenora enjoyed the delightful challenges of three energetic grandsons, playing in the beautiful garden that she planted and cultivated through her creativity and diligence over 30 years.
Lenora’s knitting skills was so well-known that during one of the missions behind the Iron Curtain, a communist official asked Bill Bathman: “Where is your daughter? The one who knits?”
Lenora became an enthusiastic quilter and presented these labours of love to every family member and some close friends. Like the woman described in Proverbs 31, Lenora was constantly knitting, sewing, quilting, catering, creating, gardening, serving those around her and improving the world. When new people moved into our area, she would give us freshly baked gifts to take to welcome them to the neighbourhood. When people whom she knew were sick, she baked dishes to deliver to their families. Lenora anticipated needs, was thoughtful and generous.
After her mother’s death in 2019, Lenora took the whole inheritance that she had received from her parents and donated it to the Mission for our Livingstone House attic conversion, building extension plans and projects. As a result, the Upper Room - Bathman Memorial Hall has been a blessing for the last year for Reformation Society meetings every Thursday night, for Home Education events, Conferences, Seminars, Variety Concerts and much more.
The second phase was adding on another four bedrooms, two bathrooms and the Pioneers Network Recording Studio. Then we added a workshop for our Comms/IT department and completely renovated and expanded the Missions kitchen. Everywhere we look in the home, garden, or at the Mission, we see the fruit of Lenora’s labour of love, sacrifice and generosity.
In 2006, my first edition of the Greatest Century of Reformation book was dedicated to Lenora in these words: “This book is dedicated to my best friend, co-worker, missionary partner and wife, Lenora Dawn Hammond.”
In 2008 Lenora wrote: Reforming our Families.
One of Lenora’s last projects was typing up the unpublished manuscript of a book that her father, Rev. Bill Bathman, had begun on the Reformation and Revival in Romania. By God’s grace, we plan to have this ready for publication soon.
Our Lord Jesus Christ declared: “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies.” John 11:25-26
“I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor demons, neither present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height or depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Roman 8:38-39
In sure and certain hope of the Resurrection of the body.