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In America with Biddy and Oswald Chambers

America held a special spot in Biddy and Oswald Chambers‘ hearts.

Oswald Chambers visited the United States four different times. Biddy visited twice.

They loved Americans and they enjoyed traveling in the country.

The new world gave Oswald and Biddy their first international publication opportunities.America, Oswald Chambers in America, Juji Nakada, Biddy Chambers, Revivalist Press, God's Bible School, Biblical Psychology, Sermon on the Mount

His first two books, Biblical Psychology in 1912, and The Sermon on the Mount in 1915, were published by God’s Bible School’s Revivalist Press.

They were the only books with his name on them as author that Oswald ever saw in print.

Oswald in America

Oswald first voyaged to America in November 1906 with his Japanese missionary friend Juji Nakada.

Once landed in New York, they traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio, where Oswald taught at God’s Bible School for six months.

He enjoyed meeting the good folks at the school and established lifelong friendships with several.

Oswald taught at several camp meetings during his time, at least one in North Carolina, with a final ten-day camp at God’s Bible School.

America, Oswald Chambers in America, Juji Nakada, Biddy Chambers, Revivalist Press, God's Bible School, Biblical Psychology, Sermon on the Mount

OC returning to England 1910

After his six months of teaching concluded, God’s Bible School provided him with a $500 honorarium.

Oswald and Nakada rode a train across the American continent to Seattle where they caught a ship to Japan.

About the country he wrote to his sister:

“The scenery is superb . . . the Rockies–I cannot hope to describe these to you. Massive, unspeakable heights, all snow-clad. The air raw, piercing and cold; mighty pine trees are clustered in thousands all around; sublime rivers and waterfalls, and daring ingenious railways.

“I have a continual 103rd Psalm in my heart.”

He returned again to speak at Holiness camp meetings up and down the eastern seaboard in 1908, 1909 and 1910.

Biddy in America

Biddy’s first voyage to New York took place in May, 1908 and it changed her life.

While she knew Oswald Chambers before, they became far better acquainted over the ten days they traveled. The two fell in love.

They parted once arrived in New York and Oswald went on to God’s Bible School while Biddy moved in with her friend Marian in Brooklyn.

She got a job and loved working with Americans, as Biddy’s daughter Kathleen explained:

“She thought it was absolutely wonderful because the bosses came in before she did and they worked hard all day long. When it came time to stop work, everybody went home. She loved being in America.”

It’s not clear how long Biddy intended to stay, but based on Oswald’s expected proposal, she traveled back to England with Marian in the fall.

A honeymoon in America

Mr. and Mrs. Oswald Chambers returned to New York in June 1910 and spent the next four months traveling. They traveled as far north as Maine, south to New Jersey and west to Ohio.

Oswald taught at the camp meetings associated with the Holiness Movement and God’s Bible School.

They spent one week alone at Thomas Seifferth’s Meadow Lawn house in Plaaterkill Valley. Oswald used the time to dictate a book that became The Place of Help many years later. As Biddy explained:

“We spent a little while in the exceedingly grand and beautiful Catskill mountains, amidst scenery which left us with the sense of worship expressed by Isaiah, ‘The whole earth is full of His glory.’”

The couple liked Americans and made many friends both in the United States and elsewhere.

America, Oswald Chambers in America, Juji Nakada, Biddy Chambers, Revivalist Press, God's Bible School, Biblical Psychology, Sermon on the Mount

They spent their honeymoon in America at camp meetings with others! (Wheaton College Special Collections)

Among the Americans who meant much to them were Mr. and Mrs. William Jessop, YMCA director in the Middle East during WWI; Samuel and Amy Zwemer, missionaries to Egypt; and Mr. and Mrs. Charles (Lettie) Cowman of the Oriental Missionary Society.

Oswald envisioned life after World War I as an opportunity to serve missionaries with visits and encouragement. He anticipated once the war finished, he and Biddy would open a Bible school.

Where?

He thought if not in England, then possibly in America or Japan.

It all, of course, would depend upon where God ultimately led them.

His most significant work, My Utmost for His Highest, was compiled and published by Biddy in the United States in 1934.

(If any one owns a copy of that first American edition, I’d love to see a photo of it).

Tweetables

What brought Oswald Chambers and Biddy to America? Click to Tweet

Biddy and Oswald Chambers loved Americans–and their work ethic! Click to Tweet

A working and spiritual profitable honeymoon in America for Mr. and Mrs. Oswald Chambers. Click to Tweet

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. Kizzie

     /  July 7, 2017

    It is interesting that the Chamberses were friends with the Cowmans, as Mrs. Cowman later wrote Streams in the Desert, another much-loved devotional book.

    Reply
    • Michelle Ule

       /  July 7, 2017

      Judi Nakada was founder, along with the Cowmans, of the Oriental Missionary Society. When he and Oswald went to Japan, they spent time with the Cowmans and Oswald sailed back to England with them.

      Reply
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