MICHELLE ULE: Biddy, Mrs. Oswald Chambers
THE HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY OF OSWALD CHAMBERS’ PASSING AWAY
MRS. OSWALD CHAMBERS
Her name is Gertrude Annie Hobbs, or “Biddy,” as she was affectionately called, and she accepted without reservations the challenge presented to her by Oswald Chambers at St. Paul’s Cathedral, in London. It was a somewhat surprising proposal, as Chambers was an impressive itinerant preacher who lived to proclaim the Gospel, and who had no intentions of raising a family. He had no permanent salary or home, and thus he had no conditions to support a wife, much less a whole household.
Coming from a middle-class Victorian family and with her father’s premature death, Biddy soon had to find resources on her own to support her mother, applying her excellent understanding of grammar and her dexterity with a keyboard to specialize on dactylography, a skill highly valued among women, given the industrial and entrepreneurial development of that time.
Both Biddy and her older sister worked in London, and together with their mom, they served actively at Eltham Park Baptist Church, led by Oswald’s brother, Rev. Arthur C. Chambers. Though quite reserved on her spiritual life, she used the sermons to practice stenography, which helped her assimilate better what she heard. That virtue would be crucial for millions to come to know the writings and sermons of her future husband.
On the hundredth anniversary of Chambers’ sudden death in WWI, a good way to become acquainted with one of the greatest names in the sharing of the gospel would be through his wife and her testimony, who carried out his mission through the writing of books and devotionals.