April 15, 1912
Titanic struck an iceberg April 14th and sunk early April 15th.

It is not to unbelief that the human spirit flees when menaced by life’s darkest specters. Near midnight on April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic, on its maiden voyage, struck an iceberg and slipped beneath the dark waters of the frigid North Atlantic. For nearly two-and-a-half hours, Titanic was slowly being devoured by its watery grave, then suddenly—as the water reached open hatches and grates on the deck—its demise greatly quickened.Robert Bateman

On Sunday evening April 14, Rev. Robert Bateman—a passenger on the ill-fated Titanic—conducted a church service for second-class passengers. He concluded the service by leading the congregation in his favorite hymn, “Nearer My God to Thee.” Who could have known that in only few hours, the strains of this hymn would occupy a place of immense prominence in the closing moments of Titanic's brief life?Robert Bateman

image

The subject addressed in this article is discussed at greater length in Robert Bateman—The Minister Who Inspired the Titanic. Christian Heritage Fellowship would be honored to work with individuals, businesses, churches, institutions, or organizations to help communicate the truth concerning the positive influence of the Christian faith by providing bulk pricing: Please contact us here...  To purchase a limited quantity of this publication, please click:  Purchase here...

Following the collision of the Titanic with the iceberg, Robert made his way to the cabin of Ada Ball—his sister-in-law—and her roommate to escort the two ladies into a lifeboat.[1] He pounded on the women's cabin door and then hurried them toward the main deck. With no time to dress, Ada ventured onto the deck in her nightgown, but feeling the Arctic cold, she attempted to return to the cabin for warmer clothes. Restraining her, Robert took off his overcoat and draped it around her and urged the two ladies to the safety of the awaiting lifeboats. Bidding them a solemn farewell after assisting them into the boat, Robert made his way to the stern. Ada's lifeboat remained near the Titanic, allowing her to observe that it was Robert who persuaded the band of the sinking vessel to play "Nearer My God to Thee."[2] That night, Robert Bateman was one of eight Christian ministers who invested the final moments of their lives seeking to prepare others for eternity.

The only known Bible to have been saved from the sinking of the Titanic was Robert’s, and it was likely entrusted to Ada as he escorted the ladies into the lifeboat. Both the speculative and likely elements of the reason Robert was carrying his Bible when he helped his sister-in-law into the lifeboat was captured by a reporter in an article dated April 11, 1940—twenty-eight years after the accident:

The minister may have been reading from his Testament at 11:40 p.m. on that fateful Sunday night or may have already read a few passages of Scripture and retired. It is not known what may have transpired in his cabin before the giant ship struck an iceberg, but his Bible was not far from his hand, for when the passengers were summoned on deck after the collision, he carried the book with him.[3]

Robert was returning to his family in his adopted country of America where he had served as a pastor, a street-mission organizer, and revivalist. Seeking to expand his mission work in Jacksonville, Florida, he had traveled to his home country of England to learn from the organization and administration of the late George Mueller’s orphanage and schools. While in England, Robert conducted revival services at Kingswood Evangel Mission Hall—something which was common to his endeavors in America.

E. Stanley Jones

But Robert Bateman’s influence did not end with the sinking of the Titanic. Years earlier—in 1901—Robert was invited to preach at a Methodist Church in Baltimore. Only three young men responded to the invitation to receive Christ at one of the services. Raised in Baltimore, one of the young men was only seventeen and came from a home in which his father was an alcoholic. That young man attended Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky and became one of Methodism's most widely known twentieth-century missionary and Christian statesman. Missionary to India and author of many books, E. Stanley Jones remembered Robert and described him in his work, Song of Ascents:

Through his rough exterior I saw there was reality within. He was a converted alcoholic, on fire with God’s love and I said to myself, I want what he has!… I accepted him for what he was—a devoted, diamond-in-the-rough winner of souls.[4]

Through E. Stanley Jones, Robert's life was to exercise remarkable influence well beyond what could possibly have been imagined the night that seventeen-year-old youth was converted. Unexpectedly, Robert’s influence extended into the Civil Rights Movement well after his death. This connection has been captured by an anecdote related by Dr. Jones’ granddaughter in her thumbnail biography of her grandfather. She wrote…

My mother [daughter of E. Stanley Jones]tells me of the occasion in Boston when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was honored by Boston University at a convocation prior to his leaving for Sweden to receive the 1964 Nobel Peace prize. At the reception following, my mother was introduced to Dr. King and my grandfather was mentioned. Dr. King immediately became very serious and said, “Your father was a very important person to me, for it was his book on Mahatma Gandhi that triggered my use of Gandhi’s method of non-violence as a weapon for our own people’s freedom in the United States.” He continued that though he had been very familiar with the writings on Gandhi and had been interested in his method of non-violence for years, it had not “clicked” with him that it was a vehicle for “use” in the United States.[5]

Though the earthly life of Robert Bateman was tragically ended with the sinking of the Titanic in the icy waters of the North Atlantic in the early-morning hours of April 15, 1912, his Christian influence well outlived his time on earth. Countless lives were changed by the ministry of Robert Bateman—a man who believed and behaved the Word of God. Today, our world and our nation desperately need men and women, who—long after their lives have set with the close of life’s day—continue to cast rays upon the horizon through which they have passed.

Related Articles

Hymn Story by George Beverly Shea

Hymn Story by George Beverly Shea

April Articles | Biography | Christian Calendar (Holidays) | Christian Living | History of Hymns | Music

Though known to millions, George Beverly Shea (February 1, 1909 – April 16, 2013) never forgot, nor was ashamed of his humble Christian upbringing. Years ago, our family began to observe the practice of reading a history of a hymn for family devotions. It was our custom to select a hymn story on Saturday evening, in part to prepare our hearts for the Lord's Day. It was my desire to acquaint our children with the glorious heritage of the Christianity that began with the ancient Church and has continued for more than 2,000 years. The songs and hRead more...

America's Bishop: Francis Asbury

America's Bishop: Francis Asbury

Biography | Methodist churches | Role of Pastors

Francis Asbury (August 20, 1745 - March 31, 1816) is remembered most for the leadership he provided to early American Methodism. Asbury must not be associated with the theologians of Methodism. Like Jabez Bunting among the British Wesleyan Methodists, Asbury was a great churchman within the American Methodist Episcopal Church. He was one of the first two general superintendents or bishops of American Methodism and was said to be more widely known than General George Washington. Because of great men of God, America became a great nation, and ifRead more...

Thomas Jefferson's Wall of Separation Letter

Thomas Jefferson's Wall of Separation Letter

American History | January Articles | Role of Pastors | Thomas Jefferson

On January 1, 1802, Thomas Jefferson penned a letter that has been employed by secularists against America's historic legal foundation. Repeatedly members of the Supreme Court have relied upon secular interpretations of both the writings and personal example of Thomas Jefferson. Employing Jefferson against the previous historic rulings of the Supreme Courts and the Christian foundation of American law, the Supreme Court, since 1947, has relied upon skewed and misinterpreted excerpts taken from the writings of Thomas Jefferson. A significant conRead more...

How Thomas Paine Betrayed America

How Thomas Paine Betrayed America

American History | Concepts of God | January Articles | Other Than Christianity | Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Paine is often employed by the political left as justification for their false claim that America was established as a secular nation. The facts, however, completely expose their uninformed argument. Click to read the entire article… While Thomas Paine is remembered positively for his contribution to American independence through his book, Common Sense, his contemporary defenders overstate his influence when they credit him as being the primary force of the American cause. His supporters associate Paine's later deistic beliefs ofRead more...

Ben-Hur: A Christian Triumph

Ben-Hur: A Christian Triumph

Biography | Christian Living | Devotional Literature

In the National Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. there resides a full-body statue of General Lew Wallace, Civil War hero and author of the literary classic, Ben Hur. The story behind the composition of this time-honored classic is one worthy of being rehearsed on a regular basis, and no season of the year is more fitting for its telling than the Easter season. One of the traditions our family shared when our children were younger was the viewing of Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur around the Easter season. The conversiRead more...

Welch: Prohibitionist Perfects Grape Juice

Welch: Prohibitionist Perfects Grape Juice

Biography | Christian Living

Thomas Bramwell Welch (December 31, 1825 – December 29, 1903) was a Wesleyan Methodist preacher who strongly the use of fermented drinks. With the first edition of their Discipline, the Wesleyan Methodists expressly required for the Lord's Supper that "unfermented wine only should be used at the sacrament." This requirement was about 25 years before Welch used pasteurization. So it is clearly evident that pasteurization was not the only method used to prepare it unfermented. There were traditional methods to prepare unfermented wine (juice) forRead more...


Celebrating Our Christian Heritage!
We are a user supported non-profit organization.  Your small gift is tax-deductible and will go a long way to help us meet our operating budget — and it is vital, because
America deserves to know its true heritage.
Please contribute today!
Click to donate

Robert Bateman

Robert Bateman

Robert Bateman

Robert Bateman

Robert Bateman

Robert Bateman

Robert Bateman

Robert Bateman

Robert Bateman

Robert Bateman

Robert Bateman

Robert Bateman

Robert Bateman Robert Bateman Robert Bateman Christian Heritage Fellowship Facebook Christian Heritage Fellowship Facebook Christian Heritage Fellowship Facebook InternalLink InternalLink InternalLink InternalLink InternalLink InternalLink