An (Imagined) Biddy Chambers Interview (Part 2)

I’d love to conduct a Biddy Chambers interview.

I have so many questions.

I’m just not sure she’d answer them.

(See part 1 of this Chambers interview fantasy here).

Take, for example, why she went to Egypt.

Traveling to EgyptBiddy Chambers interview, Mrs. Oswald Chambers, Zeitoun, Egypt, World War I, Anzac troops, My Utmost for His HIghest, Kathleen Chambers

MU: What were you thinking?

BC: “I was no different than any other woman serious about her faith in the early 20th century.”

MU: Other than your friend Mary Riley and a few other BTC regulars (Bible Training College students of OC’s), what other woman went to Egypt in the middle of a war? Much less with a toddler?

BC: “Oswald needed me. We worked as a team.”

MU: So, you took a two-year old through U-boat infested winter seas during a world war to a desert land before antibiotics and where disease ran rampant?

BC: “We knew God was in control. He called us, we went.”

MU: I didn’t take my children into a far less serious war situation.

BC: “I am not an amateur providence for you. I went where God wanted me to go.”

Zeitoun, Egypt, World War I

MU: Tell me about your life in Egypt.

BC: “We lived in a simple adobe bungalow in the desert. I made our home as comfortable as possible.”

MU: Basically you were camping. How did you keep Kathleen so clean? In the photos she always wore a bright white dress.

BC: “The local servants did that. They were so much better at laundry in those conditions than I was. Do you know that when they ironed the clothing, they spit on them first to dampen the cotton cloth?”

Biddy Chambers interview, Mrs. Oswald Chambers, Zeitoun, Egypt, World War I, Anzac troops, My Utmost for His HIghest, Kathleen Chambers

The family in 1917 (Wheaton)

MU: (Shakes her head). Your kitchen was outdoors?

BC: “Yes, the British Expeditionary Forces lent the orderlies to help with unusual chores. Miss Riley often worked with a few soldiers to cook over open fires.”

MU: Why would the army lend soldiers?

BC: “They recognized the value of our ministry (through the Young Men’s Christian Association) to the men.”

MU: Which was?

BC: “Oswald preached the gospel every night in the YMCA hut. Men came to hear him. William Jessop, the head of the YMCA said,

“the subjects were “treated from a Biblical standpoint and are so handled that each lecture is complete in itself. He packs into each lesson what most people would spread over two or three.”

MU: Basically, OC led a revival among the ANZAC troops in Egypt during World War I.

BC: “Exactly.”

Biddy Chambers Interview: Difficulties?

MU: Oswald worried about you and the hard work.

BC: “He drove himself harder. He insisted we relax during the hot afternoons while he visited soldiers in the local hospitals.”

MU: You survived sandstorms, illness, constant visitors, drop in dinner guests, spoiled trifle . . .

BC: “The ants got into the trifle because we didn’t cover it well enough.”

MU: You never knew how many people would stop by at dinner time.

BC: “Miss Riley and I were quite adept at stretching the soup if a large number of surprise guests arrived. We did so at the BTC all the time. Tea, of course, is easy to make at the drop of a hat.”

Oswald’s death

MU: Why didn’t you insist OC rest in those hot afternoons like Jessop asked his secretaries? Why didn’t you make him go to the hospital when his appendix acted up?

BC: Glancing at Oswald. “Have you met my husband?”

Oswald smiles.

Biddy Chambers interview, Mrs. Oswald Chambers, Zeitoun, Egypt, World War I, Anzac troops, My Utmost for His HIghest, Kathleen Chambers

Oswald’s final photo. (Wheaton College Special Collections)

MU: (Turns on OC) Why didn’t you go to the hospital? Isn’t that the real question people have argued about for 100 years?

Oswald Chambers: Biddy answered it in My Utmost for His Highest on November 15. Stephen Pulford, as you note in the biography, reached the same conclusion you did in your blog post Why Did God Let Oswald Chambers Die So Young?

MU: Do you feel that way, Biddy? Is that the answer? A book rather than a life?

BC: Staring straight ahead. “I am not an amateur providence, for anyone. God never makes a mistake.”

MU: You never doubted?

BC: “God never makes a mistake.”

Part 3 will examine the rest of Biddy’s life


A Biddy Chambers interview? Questions about Egypt. Click to Tweet

What was life like for the Oswald Chambers family in WWI Egypt? Click to Tweet

The biographer tries to imagine Mrs. Oswald Chambers’ life in Egypt. Click to Tweet

Biddy Chambers interview, Mrs. Oswald Chambers, Zeitoun, Egypt, World War I, Anzac troops, My Utmost for His HIghest, Kathleen Chambers

Information available here


For those of you in the Chicago area on Friday, October 20, Wheaton College will be sponsoring a day to honor the life and legacy of Oswald Chambers.

Called My Utmost: A Century of Devotion, it will be an afternoon dedicated to remembering and honoring Oswald Chambers.

Here’s a fuller description:

Words spoken more than 100 years ago are still calling hearts closer to Christ today.

Oswald Chambers’s messages cut to the heart of the gospel, and his devoted wife, Biddy, recorded his words in shorthand, giving them to the world in print after his death.

As a believer who appreciates Chambers’s words from books like My Utmost for His Highest, you won’t want to miss this exciting one-day event at Wheaton College, honoring his life and legacy.

Join us Friday, October 20, at 1 p.m. in Barrows Auditorium on the campus of Wheaton College for a full afternoon exploring the life and passion of Oswald Chambers.My Utmost a Century of Devotions: The Life and Legacy of Oswald Chambers

Get an in-depth look at the man who was many things—artist, musician, world traveler, mentor, friend—but most importantly, he was completely sold out for his Savior.

Enjoy interesting speakers, live music, and a panel discussion, plus look at his original works and visit with others who enjoy the writings of Chambers as much as you do.





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