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Corrie ten Boom

     Corrie ten Boom was raised in a deeply religious family. Bound to the word of God. They were a family committed to bringing to light the harsh and inhumane practices of the Nazis. As part of the Dutch Reformed Church, they fought for equality for all human beings. Their fight was so courageous that during the Nazi occupation of Holland the family gave temporary shelter to Jews fleeing from Hitler's army.

     Living in Haarlem, a Jewish section of Amsterdam, the ten Boom family hid families in their home, a watch shop that had been in their family for generations. As part of the Dutch underground, Corrie would help to find safe havens and shelter for those seeking asylum from Hitler's reign of terror. As soon as one family would find a safe haven, more would come seeking refuge. She and her sister Betsie along with their father Casper, worked tirelessly and joyfully in the Lord's work, saving the lives of God's children.

     On February 28, 1944 the ten Boom family was approached by a man who presented himself as an ally. He told a story of a his wife who had been arrested and how he needed money to bribe the police for her release. Corrie offered her assistance, only to be arrested herself, along with many of her family. It turns out the man was a quisling, an informant for the Nazis. The ten Booms were taken into custody. Two sisters, her brother and their father. Her brother and one sister were released after questioning. Corrie and her sister, Betsie, and their father were sent to prison. Casper ten Boom died within weeks of his capture, from illness, leaving the two ten Boom women behind to navigate their new harsh surroundings.

     The ladies were sent in June 1944 from Scheveningen prison to an internment camp in Vught, in the Netherlands. During this time, Corrie was held in solitary confinement. From Vught, the sisters were taken to Ravensbrueck, Germany, in September 1944 where they would hear the call of the Lord.

     At first frightened by the prospect of being discovered, Corrie and Betsie would preach to small groups of prisoners. It was completely against the rules to have a Bible in any of the camps. Little by little the two became bolder and bolder in their evangelism. Giving hope to many; their nightly services grew from one to two. With shouts of praise, singing of hymns and translations of the Word from Dutch into Polish and French and Russian and Czech. There was such praise and worship the rafters shook. Never were they discovered by the guards. They were sheltered by angels; the way they had sheltered so many Jews before their capture.

     Betsie succumbed to illness in December 1944. Shortly before her death, Betsie offered these words of encouragement to her courageous younger sister, "We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still."

     Soon after her sister's death, Corrie was released one week before all women her age were sentenced to death. There had been a clerical error. Ms. ten Boom went home to Haarlem. She tried to settle back into her life, the life she had lived before the Dutch underground. She felt restless and again, she felt the call of the Lord and set out to tell her story.

     She had learned that no matter how desperate your situation, the Lord is always present. He is always leading you and guiding you through the thickest wilderness. We are often vulnerable and timid in times of uncertainty. We yearn to know why we are facing such giants and how will we ever come through such troubling times. How we will be able to tell our story? The story that will ultimately bring Him glory.

     "Some knowledge is too heavy...you cannot bear it...your Father will carry it until you are able." Corrie ten Boom The Hiding Place.

     In 1947, Corrie was traveling to devastated Germany from Holland. She was there to spread the message of forgiveness. She had been speaking to a group in a church in Munich, when she was tested in her faith. The Lord will never tempt us, but he will test us. We may be so very strong in our outreach and so very good at spreading His word, but are we always good at living His commands? I'd like to end with this sweet story….

     A man approached Ms. ten Boom as she was finishing her speech. He was a familiar face to her. A face that brought back feelings of fear. He had been a guard at Ravensbrueck. He spoke to her;

     "I had to do it-I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition; that we forgive those who have injured us." "But since that time," he went on, "I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me from the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear from your lips as well. Fraulein,…" his hand came out, …"will you forgive me?" - "I'm Still Learning to Forgive", Corrie ten Boom, Guidepost 1972

     She stood there, realizing her own need for forgiveness from the sins she committed daily, she couldn't. She could not offer forgiveness. Her forgiveness would not bring back, or justify the horrible death Betsie had died.

     She was overcome, she stood there for what seemed like an eternity. This man, hand stretched out to her was asking to be forgiven. She knew that she had to do it, she had to forgive this man his trespasses if she expected the Lord to forgive hers. She did.

     She took his hand, feeling the love of Jesus and declared , "I forgive you brother, with all my heart!"

     We should all be so humble that we are able to forgive all those who have trespassed against us. For there is a day that we will come face to face with our Lord, seeking His eternal forgiveness.

     Ms. ten Boom entered into the eternal forgiving arms of God on April 15, 1983 on her ninety-first birthday. May she feel the warmth of God's arms as she walks among the angels. May she be eternally comforted by the Father who gave her such strength and courage to stand up for a people equally deserving of basic human dignity.

Copyright © 2008-2015 Samantha Ewing

Reader Comments...
2011-07-03 08:16:11
"Thank you for your wonderful article. Corrie was my childhood hero. My mother read to me " The Hiding Place" each evening when it was published. Her teachings always challenge me. She has played a great part in my spiritual formation. "
        - Cheryl

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