Resiliency Post-WWI: Mrs. Oswald Chambers (Part III)

Biddy Chambers demonstrated even more resiliency after Oswald Chamber’s unexpected death in 1917.

Left penniless with a four year-old in the middle of a YMCA camp in Egypt, Biddy had a choice.

She could fall apart, or she could accept her circumstances and move forward.

The YMCA leadership in Egypt asked her to stay on throughout the war.

It made sense to her and that’s where Biddy and Kathleen Chamber remained until their 1919 repatriation to England.

Resiliency in a broken nation

While Biddy and Kathleen returned home to the welcome arms of Biddy’s mother and sister, everything else about England threatened.

Society shattered in England following World War I.

900,000 men died during the war. Many more returned home maimed–whether emotionally, physically or psychologically.

(“They” say you can learn a lot about the social history of a nation by reading historical novels. If interested, you might read the first several Ian Rutledge novels by Charles Todd.)

The London Times shouted about the “two million surplus women,” then living in England. These were women whose chances of marriage disappeared with the lost men. (See Singled Out by Virginia Nicholson)

Biddy had no interest in another husband, but she did have a child to raise.

She also had a trunk or two filled with notebooks of Oswald Chambers‘ lectures.

She saw as her ministry turning those notes into books.

Through arrangements made by her friend Charles Rae Griffin, she visited a publisher.

He saw no point or future in possible books using Oswald Chambers’ words.

It took resiliency–faith–in God’s leading to make her next choice.

resiliency, Oswald Chambers, Mrs. Oswald Chambers, WWI, England following WWI, Ian Rutledge novels, Charles Todd, Singled Out, dealing with a teenager

Returned to England

Self-publishing anyone?

Eighty years before self-publishing became popular, Biddy Chambers took that route to produce Oswald Chambers’ books.

The same Charles Rae Griffin helped her find the people she needed in British publishing.

Biddy served as transcriber, compiler, typist, editor and book designer; the task required a great deal of flexibility.

Griffin advised as needed, but Biddy did the work.

That included, between 1924 and 1927, putting together My Utmost for His Highest.

Since she chose not to take any payment for compiling the books–believing the work was her gift to God– Biddy and Kathleen lived on charity from friends.

She rolled any profits from a book into the production costs (typesetting, design, printing, binding) into the next book.

How about raising a teenage girl?

During the time Biddy put together My Utmost for His Highest, she also ran a boarding house.

Many women who have raised a daughter struggle with resilience in the face of their teenager.

resiliency, Oswald Chambers, Mrs. Oswald Chambers, WWI, England following WWI, Ian Rutledge novels, Charles Todd, Singled Out, dealing with a teenager

Circa 1925

Kathleen didn’t appreciate the charity clothing she and her mother were forced to wear.

Because Biddy refused payment from the books, she sought another way to provide additional income, which is why she ran the boarding house.

Biddy also chose to allow her daughter to find her own faith.

“It can be a handicap to be raised in a Christian family. You imagine you know more than you do, but you only know about God,” Kathleen explained years later.

Biddy sent her daughter to a 1920’s version of youth group, but waited as her daughter found her way to faith–long after Kathleen left school.

Despite the strains of poverty and a busy life, Biddy always put her daughter’s emotional needs first.

The two had a very close relationship. “I could tell her anything,” Kathleen said.

Obviously, Biddy’s patience with her child paid off.

But another challenge lay ahead.  The final post about Biddy’s resiliency will describe events she endured during World War II.


Biddy’s resiliency after Oswald Chambers’ death. Click to Tweet

Biddy Chambers and the challenges in England post WWI. Click to Tweet

Resiliency? Thy name is self-publishing and raising a teenage daughter. Click to Tweet




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1 Comment

  1. The word that comes to mind is gumption. Wow. What an example of faith, trust, and hard work.

    Hope you and yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving, Michelle!


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