Caleb had represented Judah among the twelve spies sent out by Moses from Kadesh Barnea into the land of Canaan (Numbers 13). Caleb and Joshua had the distinction of being the only two who on that strategic occasion believed that God would enable His people to overcome the Canaanites in battle. So Caleb and Joshua were blessed by God to outlive their critics and the defeatists who said it couldn’t be done. Now most of the promised land has been conquered. Caleb is eighty five years old. Surely Caleb is long overdue for retirement – but no! Caleb declares "I am as strong this day . . . for war . . . Now, therefore, give me this mountain . . ." Joshua 14:11-12. Caleb wasn’t interested in the flat plains or any easy task, nor was he going to hide behind any excuses for indemnity, he wanted the mountain, and not just any mountain. This included great fortified cities protected by the feared giants of the Anakim. For Caleb, faith in God’s promises was not expressed in human passivity, but in active obedience. Not only did Caleb attempt great things for God in his later years, but he accomplished great things . . . "because he wholly followed the Lord God . . ." Joshua 14:14.
This year is a very special year for the Bathmans. 2001 marks the 50th wedding anniversary of Bill and Harriett Bathman. In addition the Bathmans are celebrating 50 years in ministry together. It was on 30 May 1951 that Rev Bill Bathman left for his first summer of ministry, evangelising in Europe. On 2 September 1951 Bill and Harriett were married.
To celebrate 50 remarkable years of marriage and ministry, Lenora (the Bathman’s youngest daughter – my wife) and I invited Bill and Harriett to enjoy 2 months of ministry and special family activities here in Africa. So far this has included Bill being a plenary speaker at a Ministers Conference at KwaSizabantu Mission in Zululand. The 1 000 delegates responded with great warmth and enthusiasm to the ministry of their beloved brother who has so often before been a blessing to them. Bill was also the main speaker at the 10th Anniversary supper and rally of Africa Christian Action (the most active pro-life ministry in Southern Africa). The Pinelands Town Hall was packed out to overflowing for this joyous event.
There have also been other special ministry opportunities for Bill Bathman such as the Jivinnadi Mission, The Bible Institute, at churches and on radio broadcasts.
On 23 March, the night before Harriett’s 70th birthday, we held a special banquet at an exclusive club where various leaders and special friends gathered for a feast in their honour. Messages from around the world were displayed and read out and I showed a special slide presentation of highlights of the half century of missions accomplished by God’s grace through the Bathmans. (A mosaic of some of those photographs will be included in this newsletter for you to enjoy).
Now, in the tradition of Caleb, Bill Bathman is celebrating his 50th year in missions by flying into the no-fly zones of Islamic Sudan to deliver Bibles, train pastors and preach the Gospel. By the time this newsletter is delivered to the printer, Bill Bathman will be in the midst of the longest war of the 20th century, serving the oldest community of Christians in Africa (dating back to Acts 8:27-39), who are suffering some of the worst persecution in the world today. Sudan is the largest country in Africa and it is part of the Muslim Middle East and firmly within the 10-40 window (the largest block of unreached people in the most needy, neglected and resistant mission fields in the world.) The National Islamic Front government of Sudan has declared Jihad against the Christian Black South. Over the last year the Sudan Air Force has conducted a terror bombing campaign against civilian centres in the South.
During my mission trip to Sudan in January, I gathered details from eyewitnesses of 55 bombings. In just over 2 months, over 458 bombs had been dropped on churches, schools, medical clinics and homes – mostly in Equatoria. The community which includes the Frontline Fellowship mission base and our Christian Liberty High School has been bombed 9 times in the last year, by MiGs and Antonovs of the Sudan Air Force. Over 100 bombs have been dropped on our community during the last 12 months! So, please be in earnest prayer for Rev. Bill Bathman and the Frontline team in Sudan and for all the precious pastors, teachers, chaplains and other resilient Christians who are standing firm under fire.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of ministry, please read "Going Through – Even if The Door is Closed." This God honouring book is full of inspiring and uplifting stories of God’s provision, guidance and protection amidst the dramatic events of the Cold War.
Some years ago at a missions conference, I introduced myself to George Verwer (the founder of Operation Mobilisation – one of the largest mission organisations in the world) as "Bill Bathman’s son-in-law." George instantly exclaimed "Bill Bathman is the reason there is an Operation Mobilisation today! He was the one who urged me to come to England and he organised the NETWORK conference and month of meetings – out of which OM was born."
At another missions conference I met Mike Evans, the Principal of the Geneva Bible Institute in Switzerland. He testified at the conference that it was Bill Bathman and his NETWORK that changed his life back in 1961 and launched him into missions, 27 years of which was spent with OM co-ordinating their work in France.
Dr. Paul Negrut of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Romania told me "It was through Bill Bathman’s preaching in our church in 1983 that God was pleased to bless us with revival."
When I identified myself to Brother Andrew recently, he reminisced about the ministry trips behind the Iron Curtain he took with Bill Bathman in the 1960’s, particularly in 1968 when the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia. They met in Prague to distribute Bibles to the Russian troops.
Richard Wurmbrand, who with his wife Sabrina, recently went to be with the Lord, had often worked together with Bill Bathman to channel aid to suffering Christians in Romania.
It has been my privilege to travel and minister with Bill Bathman in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania, Germany, Mexico, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and now Sudan. Bill Bathman is a dedicated and anointed evangelist and he is much loved by the Christians in Eastern Europe and Africa. The Bathmans are an inspiring example to all of us – of faithfulness and perseverance in obedience to the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing
that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 15:58
Dr. Peter Hammond
P O Box 74