Oswald Chambers (24 July 1874 – 15 November 1917) was an early twentieth-century Scottish Baptist and Holiness Movement evangelist and teacher, best known for the devotional My Utmost for His Highest.
Family And Education
Born to devout parents in Aberdeen, Scotland, Chambers moved with his family in 1876 to Stoke-on-Trent when his father, Clarence Chambers, became Home Missions evangelist for the North Staffordshire Baptist Association, then to Perth, Scotland when his father returned to the pastorate, and finally to London in 1889, when Clarence was appointed Traveling Secretary of the Baptist Total Abstinence Association. At 16, Oswald Chambers was baptized and became a member of Rye Lane Baptist Chapel Even as a teenager, Chambers was noted for his deep spirituality, and he participated in the evangelization of poor occupants of local lodging houses. At the same time, Chambers also demonstrated gifts in both music and art.
From 1893 to 1895, Chambers studied at the National Art Training School, now the Royal College of Art and was offered a scholarship for further study, which he declined. For the next two years he continued his study of art at the University of Edinburgh while being greatly influenced by the preaching of Alexander Whyte, pastor of Free St. George’s Church. While at Edinburgh, he felt called to ministry, and he left for Dunoon College, a small theological training school near Glasgow, founded by the Rev. Duncan MacGregor. Chambers was soon teaching classes at the school and took over much of the administration when MacGregor was injured in 1898.
In 1911 Chambers founded and was principal of the Bible Training College in Clapham Common, Greater London, in an “embarrassingly elegant” property that had been purchased by the Pentecostal League of Prayer. Chambers accommodated not only students of every age, education, and class but also anyone in need, believing he ought to “give to everyone who asks.” “No one was ever turned away from the door and whatever the person asked for, whether money, a winter overcoat, or a meal, was given.” Between 1911 and 1915, 106 resident students attended the Bible Training College, and by July 1915, forty were serving as missionaries.
Recommended: List Of Books By Oswald Chambers
In 1915, a year after the outbreak of World War I, Chambers suspended the operation of the school and was accepted as a Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) chaplain. He was assigned to Zeitoun, Cairo, Egypt, where he ministered to Australian and New Zealand troops, who later participated in the Battle of Gallipoli. Chambers raised the spiritual tone of a center intended by both the military and the YMCA to be simply an institution of social service providing wholesome alternatives to the brothels of Cairo.
Married to Gertrude (Biddy) Hobbs, Oswald Chambers was stricken with appendicitis on 17 October 1917 but resisted going to a hospital on the grounds that the beds would be needed by men wounded in the long-expected Third Battle of Gaza. On 29 October, a surgeon performed an emergency appendectomy, but Chambers died 15 November 1917 from a pulmonary hemorrhage. He was buried in Cairo with full military honors.
The last six years of his life were spent as principal of the Bible Training College in London, and as a chaplain to British Commonwealth troops in Egypt during World War l. After his death, the books which bear his name were compiled by his wife from her own verbatim shorthand notes of his talks.