Billy Graham Center

Click here to return to the "The Zamzam has been a long time in sinking!"

Below are some postcards and letters from Clara Guilding (and one from her son-in-law Ralph E. Wright) to people who supported the missionary work of herself and her husband. The letters are from both before and after her release in the summer of 1942. From Collection 330, Box 35, Folder 6. Notes by the transcriber are in brackets [].

abs Mrs. W. J. Guilding
Reserve Lazarett
Internierten Lager
June 19, 1941

Dear Dr. Ironside:

You have probably heard of the tragedy which has befallen us. The S. S. "Zamzam" was sunk on April 17th [sic]. We were rescued and brought here to Germany where we are interned. My husband and I are in different internment camps. We were separated two weeks ago. He is in the north and I came here on the 16th. This is the first time I have been able to send any direct word. We are limited in the number of letters we may write but not in the number we may receive. Please let the friends know about us, especially the members of the Women's Bible class and ask them to write to me. I know we need not ask you to continue steadfast in prayer for us. We are so sorry not to be back in our loved work. It is hard to understand why this should have happened unto us but He knows and he has permitted it for some purpose. We are very conscious of your fellowship and sympathy in this affliction.

I am in a very nice place with beautiful surroundings and beautiful friends. I am well and I am getting along all right. The hardest thing to bear is the seperation from my husband and all dear ones. The past two months have seemed long not being able to write or receive any mail. Very sincerely yours,

Clara W. Guilding


c/o City Rescue Mission,
428 Rivard St. (Cor. E. Larned)
Detroit, Mich.
Nov. 18th. 1942

Dear Mr. Hall, [J. D. Hall, of Moody Church's mission committee]

Thank you for sending on to me, through the Africa Inland Mission, $150 from the Moody Church Sunday School. May God abundantly bless you and the dear women of the Womens Bible Class as you so faithfully minister in His name. I do praise God for the way he kept and sustained me during the fourteen months I was in the hands of the Nazis. I praise him for releasing me and bring me safely back to America. Great is Thy Faithfulness Lord unto me! I pray that my husband too may soon be released and that we may soon get back to Africa to the work which He has called us and in which we have experienced so much joy and blessing.

The mission also forwarded to me the very kind gift of $10, a Christmas gift from the church. I am most grateful for this also.

Praise god for the Moody Church and the faithful testimony in these dark days. Yours in His great love,
Clara Guilding.

* * * * *

Mrs. Clara Cook Guilding,
c/o Der Kriegsgefangenenhilfe des
Weltbundes der Y.M.C.A. Wilhelmstr. 34, Berlin S.W. 68

Oct. 7th. 1941

Dear Pastor and friends of the Moody Church, Chicago.
Greetings in the Precious Name! I am well and His grace proves sufficient day by day.

I was released from the Internment Camp the 13th of Sept. together with fourteen other Canadian and South African women. We were released “to proceed to Canada” the S. Africans to S. Africa. We came to Berlin to get the necessary Exit Permits and here we still wait. When we came we expected to get off at once but things do not move that way, especially in these times. There is no indication up to the present time that anything at all is being done about the matter. Some say it may take months, others say it will not be till the end of the war but we are still hopeful trusting in our God.

“He cannot have taught us
to trust us in His name,
And thus far have brought us
to put us to shame.
Each Ebenezer we raise in review
Reveals his good pleasure
To bring us right through.”

We are under the care and protection of the American Embassy. They administer the Canadian Relief Funds from which we are cared for. Our difficulty is that the amount we are allowed is insufficient for our needs We are given only Marks 150 [sic] per month and double that amount would be barely enough. Up to the present we have been able to find only expensive hotel accamodations [sic]. Berlin is very full of people right now and not knowing German we have been greatly handicapped. We are on the right track now and I believe something less expensive is going to open up for us very soon. When we are given this money we sign a receipt which is in the form of a promise to pay it back at the close of the war, if we are asked to do so.

Besides this we are very short of clothing of warm clothing with winter coming on. You see we lost so much when the ship was sunk. Clothing can only be procured on special tickets and they are difficult to get even if we had money. My family have been trying to send clothing but have found it to be impossible. However we shall be all right. I only write you freely that you may know the circumstances and thus be better able to pray for us. My husband is still interned. I hear from him. He is well but like myself anxiously looking forward to the time when we shall be reunited and back at our loved work in Africa.

I want to thank you for publishing my last letter in the church paper. So many of the dear Sisters have written to me and their letters have brought me great encouragement and blessing. Perhaps you could also publish this letter and I am going to ask all to be gracious enough to please accept this as a personal reply and do please continue to write to me. It is not that I do not have the liberty to write, I may now write as many letters to U.S.A. as I desire, it is merely the matter of the postage which has become such an important item in our present circumstances.

The weather has been lovely all autumn. It is a great blessing to us as well as to many others in Europe to have the mild weather continue. We have so many evidences of the loving Father’s protection and care for His Children. Berlin is a lovely city. We are quite free to wander about at will and we have surely been enjoying the privilege. One often thinks of how much more enjoyable it would all be under happier circumstances.

With special greetings to the dear women of the Womens Bible Class and with Christian love to all.

Very Cordially Yours,

Clara Cook Guilding

* * * * *

2252 Eastbrook drive
Fort Wayne, Indiana
October 15, 1941

Dear Dr. Ironside,

We have just received a letter from my Mother, Mrs W.J. Guilding, advising that she and the other Canadian women have been released form the internment camp and are now in Berlin awaiting exit permits. She asked me to notify you. Of course Father is still being held.

She is being cared for by the United States Embassy with funds provided by the Canadian government and had been staying in a very nice hotel in Berlin. She indicated, however, that they were planning to move out into the country where living would be cheaper. She receives an allowance from the Embassy, but apparently it is very small. She indicated that she was now free to write as much as she pleased but told us not to expect many letters because she would be unable to spare the postage. She also asked us not to try to send money as she was sure there was no way she could receive it. She was afraid it might be some time before she would be permitted to leave the country. Once she reaches unoccupied territory I expect she will be cared for by the British authorities who will doubtless arrange for her passage back to this country or to Canada. I doubt if her health will permit her to go on to Kenya. She of course indicated that she would feel very badly to leave my Father, but there would be no way in which she could help him by staying. I doubt is she is even permitted to see him.

She mentioned particularly the kindness of the YMCA and YWCA organizations, and said that they were being very well treated by everyone.

Her address is as follows:

Mrs. Clara Cook Guilding
c/o Kriegsgefangenenhilfe des Weltbundes
der YMCA
Wilhelmstr. 34
Berlin SW 68
Deutschland (Germany)

I trust that you will pass this information along to her friends in the Church, and particularly the women of her Bible class. I’m sure she would appreciate hearing from any who might care to write.

Very Sincerely,

Ralph E. Wight

* * * * *

c/o Mr. Ralph E. Wight
2252 Eastbrook Drive
Fort Wayne, Ind.
July 2nd. 1942.

Dear Pastor Ironside,

Just a brief word to inform you that prayer has been answered. God in His grace and by His mighty power has so worked on our behalf that I have been delivered from captivity, brought safely over the dangerous waters of the Atlantic and been once more restored to my loved ones and to our dear, faithful friends. Some day soon I hope to be able to tell you something of our experiences and of His Faithfulness.

I arrived in Jersey City on the Diplomatic ship S.S. Drottningholm on June 30th. My son, daughter, son-in-law and daughter-in-law, with Mr. Ralph Davis were there to welcome me when the ship got to the pier. They had driven over from Fort Wayne and were all ready to bring me home with them. We arrived here this evening and tomorrow morning I am going to Detroit and on to Oxford with my daughter and her husband.

I was only given a transit permit to remain in the States until July 14th but Mr. Davis is taking up the matter with the proper authorities to try to get that permit extended as I naturally desire to remain with my family and friends. If there is any delay in the matter it is just possible that I may have to proceed to Toronto until the matter is settled. Until then I shall be with my daughter, Mrs. E.J. Lewis, 49 Moyers Ave. Oxford, Mich.

The joy of my homecoming has been greatly marred by the fact that my husband is still interned in Germany and there is no immediate hope of his being released soon. His greatest comfort was in the fact that I was getting away. He keeps well and is doing a really great and splendid work among the 1300 British Civilian prisoners in the Camp. He is recognized by the Camp authorities as the Non-Conformist Chaplain. He has a measure of freedom in his work and he recognizes it as a wonderful opportunity for service. I know the dear saints will continue in prayer for him and for the other missionary Internees.

My greetings to the dear saints at Moody Church. Praise God with us and please pray for our speedy return to our work in Africa, according to His Will.

Cordially yours,

Clara Guilding

* * * * *

49 Moyers Av.
Oxford, Mich.
July 13th. 1942.

Dear Dr. Ironside,

Thank you for your letter and for the copies of the Moody Church News which you so kindly sent me.

I have been waiting for my Residence Permit to come through from New York before making any plans to leave the vicinity of Detroit. I have not received it yet but I went to the Immigration Dept. in Detroit this morning to ask their advice. They were very kind and assured me that I would get the permit. They are unable to grant it to me here as it must come from New York where I entered the country. They said however that I had done the right thing in going to them and making my position clear. They told me to just wait to hear from New York and assured me that I would have no trouble in the meantime.

In view of the advice received from the Immigration authorities I am now making plans to go to Chicago at the end of next week and hope to be at the Church Sunday the 26th.

I note what you say about speaking at the Church on a Sunday evening. The thought of that huge auditorium and facing that sea of faces frightens me but I know the Lord will help me as I seek to glorify His dear name. Surely He hath done great things for us whereof we are glad. I shall be glad to relate briefly some of our experiences of the past 15 months of God’s dealings and His gracious care and deliverances from death and imprisonment in Germany.

Yours Sincerely,
Clara Guilding.

* * * * *

c/o Mr. S. Burgis,
P.O. Box 618
Bradenton, Florida
Dec. 30th. 1942.

Dear Pastor [note probably to H. A. Ironside, pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, Illinois, USA],

I want to thank you for your letter of the 11th and also for the enclosed Christmas gift of $10 from the church. I surely do appreciate this bounty and as I express my gratitude to you my heart overflows in praise to Him who so graciously cares for us and supplies our every need. As the new year dawns my prayer is that the coming year may see my husband released from internment and us both back in Kenya engaged in the work we both love so dearly.

I had a letter this week from my husband written on Oct 11th but about two weeks ago I received one which he wrote on Oct 25th. He was well and rejoicing in the Lord but I feel they must be getting very weary of their long confinement.
I came to Florida the week before Christmas. I am basking in the sunshine. The climate and the vegetation remind me much of our African home and while I enjoy it, it makes me feel quite homesick. I am visiting my daughter and two sisters with their families who live here.

Praying God’s blessing upon you and upon the Church and wishing you all a very happy and fruitful New Year.
I am, Sincerely yours in Christ,
Clara Guilding.

* * * * *

P.O. Box 618
Bradenton, Florida,
Feb. 13th. 1943.

Dear Dr. Porter,

Thank you for your very kind letter of Jan. 21st. I have been waiting to reply until I could acknowledge the receipt of the money sent through our mission office. This has been received and I thank you and the Church most sincerely. I surely do appreciate the action of the Missionary Committee whereby they voted to send each of their missionaries an additional gift of $30 for this quarter. This has been received with gratitude to you and to our heavenly Father who so graciously cares for us and supplies all our needs.

I have enjoyed the winter in Florida very much. I am leaving here Mar. 5th in time to attend the Lancaster Conference. I plan to spend a month in the New York area and to return to Detroit and Chicago in time for the Missionary Rally at the Moody Church.

The latest news from my husband was written on Dec. 13th. He was well at that time and was praising God for His mercy and His many blessings. They appreciated very much the privilege of meeting around the Lord’s Table and the spiritual blessing received. Then they were rejoicing in the fact that the German Authorities had granted them permission to have eight Bible Classes. My husband is the teacher and he said it was primarily intended for those who had accepted the Lord in the camp. They were pleased that so many were attending.

I know you continue to pray for the work of my husband and the other Christian men in the Internment Camp. Please continue to pray that God may work for their release in his own good time and that the way may soon open for us to return to our beloved work in Africa.
Yours Sincerely in Christ,
Clara Guilding.
(Mrs. W. J.)


The Africa Inland Mission
373 Carlton Ave.
Brooklyn, N.Y.
September 22nd.,, 1943,

Dear Christian Friends:

It has been on my heart for some time to write you all a letter. There is a growing conviction that the time for my departure for Africa may be drawing nigh. I should not want to go without writing you each a word of greeting and thanks for all you have meant to me during this year of fellowship spent with you.

I rejoice in the privilege that has been mine of sharing with so many of you some of the experiences we had when the “Zamzam” was sunk, and later in German Prison Camps. It gave me great joy to be able to tell you how the Lord stood by us and to recount to you something of His mighty working on our behalf during that time of great danger and stress, as He manifested to us His great faithfulness. Truly we can say from the depths of our hearts “Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me.”

So many of you have entertained me in your homes. You made me feel so welcome and it was a great pleasure to visit you. I thank you all for your very kind and generous hospitality. I would also thank you for your loving gifts as well as your words of cheer and encouragement. The promises of prayer help received have meant much to us through these trying days of separation and testing. God has indeed answered prayer in giving the grace which is sufficient.

I have had recent letters from my husband written from the internment camp in Germany. He was well when he last wrote on July 26th. He continually praises God for all His goodness to them and or the privilege of preaching the Gospel and teaching the Word in the prison camp. There Is a note of victory running all through his letters. Concerning the services in the camp he says “A goodly number of men attend the services”, and adds, “We continue to pray for greater spiritual blessing in the camp.” He mentions some who have been saved and speaks of the Bible Classes they are permitted to hold. He was also rejoicing in that permission had boon granted them to meet around the Lord’s table once a month. He said in his letter of July 10th.,”I know you remember me to the friends and thank them for their kind interest in prayer.” Most of his letters contain similar messages of greetings. He said that he had read the Bible through once during the first six months of the year and that he expected to read it through again before the end of the year.

With reference to our going to Africa Mr. Guilding writes “Our turn will come some day,” He indicates that his desire for ma would be that I should go on alone. He says, “I know you will do just as you arc led of the Lord. We shall pray to that end.” We cannot write freely on account of the Censorship but I know that his wish would be for no to go to Africa as soon as possible. When he is released he will not return here but I would expect rather that he would go on to Africa.

I might just as well be waiting for my husband’s release in Africa as in America. I could be going on with the work that is so dear to both our hearts. The need on the Field is great and the time is short. The night cometh when no man can work. I begrudge these precious daylight hours spent away from the task to which God has called us. I feel that I should like to got back “Home before the darkness falls.” I should like to garner a little longer in the harvest field of Africa and bring in a few more sheaves. It may”bo however, that our day of service will be brought to a close by the morn of His glorious appearing and at this thought our hearts respond saying “Even so come Lord Jesus,” Never—the—less His Word to us is “Occupy till I come.”

I would most earnestly solicit your prayer help concerning my going forth. Pray that God may open the way, or block it, according to His will. I have long since learned the importance of being in God’s will. If one can say, “I am here by the will of God” it does not matter much what may come to one.

“I worship thee sweet will of God, and all thy ways adore,
And every day I live I seem to love thee more and more.
All that He blesses is our good, and unblessed good is ill,
And all is right that seems most wrong if it be His sweet will.”

I had a recent letter from an African pastor, a fine man and a graduate of our Macao Bible School. He writes as follows:

“May this letter and my voice reach Mrs. Guilding. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. In all things may the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be praised. I have much thanksgiving for answer to prayer, because God is with you and has saved you and taken you out of the hand of the enemy, 2 Cor. 1:10 and 2Tim. 4:17,18.

We pray very much that we may see your face and Bwana’s (Mr. Guilding’s). We have received half an answer according to the above words. We want a full answer to the prayer as in Acts 12:1—14. That is a perfect answer. When you write to Bwana greet him much, many times. I pray with tears for you both. May God comfort you with His strength because it is great. The work of God is good here but we have need of your prayers. 2Cor. 13:l4,” ‘

These verses are well taken and well worth looking up. I have received blessing in doing so. How I praise God for the prayers of the African Christians, I feel that God must delight to honor their faith and answer their prayers on our behalf. We praise God for what He hath wrought in the hearts and lives of so many Africans. May God’s richest blessing rest upon each one of you and may your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful I s he that calleth you, who also will do it.

With sincere Christian love,
Yours in His faithfulness
Clara Guilding

Return to BGC Archives Home Page

Last Revised: 5/1/07
Expiration: indefinite

Wheaton College 2007