It was in the mid-1960s when, after climbing the 56 steps to his tiny apartment in Deva, Romania, I first met Dr. Nick. My earliest memories of him were two-fold: respect for his zeal and passion for witnessing and winning souls to Jesus Christ, and awe that he was Romania’s premier endocrinologist.
Dr. Nick will always be remembered for his courage in standing firm against the communist authorities when they came to his office at the hospital in Deva and issued the intimidating ultimatum: “We give you 30 days. You must choose between your Christ and your career.”
His response: “I don’t need 30 days, or 30 hours or 30 seconds. If I must choose between my career and my Savior, I choose Jesus Christ.”
We remember when the Lord called him to pastor Second Baptist Church in Oradea.
He traveled from Deva each weekend, without official approval, with only a small green suitcase mostly filled with books. Once we found him at the Manse, in the dark to avoid discovery, burning corncobs in the stove to generate heat without producing any telltale smoke.
Finally the authorities gave him permission to move.
Our daughter Lenora Hammond was baptized in Second Baptist Church. Over the years we were privileged to participate in some of the projects Dr. Nick initiated – namely the Bethesda Medical Clinic in Oradea and Casa Dorca, the Baptist orphanage in Prilipet.
Without his vision and initiative these ministries and many others would not exist.
These are a few of the many Romanian orphans that were given a home and family at the orphanage in Prillipet.
Bill Bathman and Dr. Nick
Dr. Nick was a passionate follower of Jesus.
Some people come into our lives and quickly go.
Some stay on for a while and leave footprints on our heart. What an honor for Harriett (“Tanta Billa”) and me (Fratele Bill) to be ‘a friend of Dr. Nick’ – one we will never forget and whose friendship we will treasure for the rest of our lives.
Hardly a day passes when either Tanta Billa or I will say, using Dr. Nick’s accent, “Be careful!” He always stressed the ‘b’ as in ‘be-e-e.’ Never have verb and adjective been so meaningfully combined or repeated so often.
How wonderful that these tears are only temporary, because “we sorrow not as others who have no hope.”
Dr. Nick has encountered the “last enemy” – death. But he did not have to face him alone.
Our great Victor, the Lord Jesus Christ has taken the sting from this relentless foe. Dr. Nick has gone through the Valley of the Shadow and emerged victorious on the other side. We shall all follow shortly.
It’s imperative to be ready for that Divine appointment: “…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” Hebrews 9:27
Our hearts are grateful for every footprint our precious brother, Dr. Nicolae Gheorghita, has left behind.
In respectful memory: Bill and Harriett Bathman,
Mesa, Arizona – USA
Bill and Harriett Bathman, co-founders of ITMI
Editor's Note - Dr. Nick was always passionate about helping those in need. He was especially interested in helping deserving students get a Christian education.
Next month we will suggest a way that we all can continue Dr. Nick’s legacy by partnering with his children and the newly created foundation for helping worthy but needy Romanian students.
In 1981, after 30 years of ministry in Europe, Bill Bathman founded In Touch Mission International in Tempe, AZ with the help of his wife Harriett. Under their leadership, ITMI established a reputation for integrity and effective ministry overseas. Beginning in England as an evangelist, Bill was later called during the Communist years to minister to Christians behind the Iron Curtain. Bill and Harriett did so from a mission base in Salzburg, Austria which provided convenient entry into the mission field of Eastern Europe. In 1981, the Bathmans further expanded their ministry to include restricted access areas in Africa by founding In Touch Mission International (ITMI) in Tempe, Arizona.