Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God David McCasland

Reviewed by Karen Ristuccia.

David McCasland’s biography of Eric Liddell (Pure Gold), the runner who won Olympic gold before becoming a missionary, inspired me to reread and review his earlier work on the evangelist, missionary and beloved Christian writer Oswald Chambers (Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God).

Liddell and Chambers share several striking parallels: Both were Scots, both served in camps during World Wars (Liddell in a Chinese prison camp in WWII and Chambers in an Egyptian-based military camp in WWI), both died young while imprisoned, and both remain beloved Christian heroes today. 

Chambers’s life was brief (1874-1917), but significant. He grew up as the youngest child in a large family, where his father was a Baptist pastor. The youngest Chambers began art studies at the University of Edinburgh, but soon chose the life of an evangelist and teacher. His talents as a speaker and a mentor led to his teaching in Bible schools and preaching in both the United States and Japan. After his marriage in 1910 to Biddy (for “BD” or “Beloved Disciple,” her husband’s nickname for her), Chambers led the Bible Training College in London. The college was forced to close after World War I, and the couple, along with daughter Kathleen, traveled to Egypt and worked with the Young Men’s Christian Association ministering to soldiers. In 1917, Chambers died suddenly of complications from appendicitis.

But his story doesn’t end there. Chambers would be unknown today without his wife, who had worked as a secretary and was the fastest stenographer in all of Great Britain before her marriage­­­­­­ – a feat of no small skill in the days before typewriters and computers! She took handwritten notes of all of her husband’s speeches, sermons, and messages, and then spent the rest of her life transcribing and editing his notes, and publishing over 40 books.

Chambers’s most famous book is the devotional My Utmost for His Highest, which is still in print. He is known for his balanced Christianity, his turn of phrase, and his emphasis on the power of the Holy Spirit. In Abandoned to God, David McCasland tells his story in great detail, and with compassion and simplicity, which is how the life of this evangelist deserves to be both remembered and emulated.

Published by Discovery House, 1993.

For more works by the author, see Karen’s review of Eric Liddell: Pure Gold (10/6/16), available at this link and in the Reader’s Reviews section of the Stone Hill app.

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