Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Woman You Should Know

        I have just completed a class at the University on the Holocaust-very powerful.  As part of my assignment I was to write and present a biography of a Holocaust survivor.  I chose Corrie ten Boom.    The story of her life and devotion to the Lord is one of the most remarkable that I have ever heard.
        I count Corrie ten Boom as one of the most remarkable women to have ever lived because of her childlike faith in Jesus and her tenacious spirit to grab the work that He had prepared for her before the foundation of the world.  Read a snippet of her story and please pursue the other resources that I have mentioned.  Her story will put perspective in your day, in your life.

                      "Happiness isn't' something that depends on our surroundings, Corrie.
                          It's something we make inside ourselves." - 'The Hiding Place'

The story of Corrie ten Boom cannot be told without speaking of the faith that ingrained her very being. A Christian faith that was tested in her mind, lived in her heart, and projected in her every action. The entire ten Boom family shared this faith, breathing and living in a circle of faith in Christ Jesus. They gave of themselves, even the sacrifice of their lives, because Christ gave his life for them.

Corrie’s home, affectionately called the Beje, for was first lived in by Willem ten Boom who had opened a clock shop, in 1837. Dedicated Christians, the family home above the shop was always a welcoming place for anyone in need. After an inspiring Dutch Reformed worship service in 1844, Willem started a weekly prayer service to pray for the “peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6). This loving dedication for the Jews was transferred to Casper ten Boom and his family. Casper with his family continued the tradition of this prayer. These meetings continued for over one hundred years until February 28, 1944.

The Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1942. Corrie was fifty years old. Now living in Nazi occupied Haarlem, the ten Booms lived out their Christian faith by keeping their home a refuge. Only this time, their home became a hiding place for Jews and members of the Dutch underground who were being hunted by the Nazis. The ten Booms hid, fed, and transported refugees. It is estimated that they helped save the lives of 800 Jews and numerous other underground workers. Every moment of every day, these courageous individuals chose to put their possessions and lives on the line.

Several years passed. On February 28, 1944, Casper ten Boom and his family were betrayed and the Nazi Gestapo burst into the Beje. Even after systematic searching, the Hiding Place was never located. The refugees were able to escape two days later by crawling on the roof tops. All of them, but one of the underground workers who died later in the war, were delivered to safety.

Corrie and her sister Betsie were taken into custody and transported by train to Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany, fifty miles north of Berlin. After four endless days packed into dark, hot train cars without food or drink, they arrived. Corrie and Betsy experienced all of the hate and atrocities that were within the deaths camps. However, they also experienced God’s miraculous hand again and again. Upon entrance to the camp, all women had to lay aside all of their possessions, strip naked before a line of Nazi soldiers, followed by an icy shower, then redress into a given dress. Corrie saw that she must take an opportunity to smuggle her small bible and bottle of liquid vitamins with her. After a silent prayer, she asked the guard if she and Betsie could go the restroom. After being directed in to the shower room, they were told to use the drain holes. There she saw a line of moldy, benches infested with cockroaches sitting at the side. She wrapped her precious things in a sweater where she later retrieved them and placed them from a string around her neck. Still, the bulge was quite apparent and she continued to pray as she saw that each prisoner was getting frisked twice before they were allowed to leave the building. Miracuously, the woman in front of her was frisked three times and her sister behind her once, but Corrie was not!

The conditions at Ravensbruck were unfathomably difficult: back-breaking work, lack of food, constant weariness and sickness. Yet, as the torture grew, so did the love that Betsie showed. She would tell her bewildered sister, Corrie, “I feel so sorry for them” or “God forgive them”. It took a few moments for Corrie to realize that Betsie had been talking about their perpetrators. Corrie was learning, through the testament of her sister, the love of Christ. The sisters would pray daily and have services as well. Many ladies so emaciated in physical form but were filled as they ate vigorously of the Word.

Betsie had grown quite sick. Corrie attempted in vain to get any help for her sister. It was in this time that Betsie would vocalize a vision that she saw, a dream that seemed real to her. She told Corrie that she saw a beautiful huge home with very tall windows, inside were inlaid wooden floors and relief sculptures, on the outside were colorful gardens. This place was to be a place of healing where survivors of this tragedy would be welcome. She said that the horrible place of the concentration camp should be used in the same manner –a place of light. “There is not so much darkness in all of the world that God’s love is not deeper still. You must tell people what we have learned here Corrie.” Betsie said that they would both be free in the New Year.

She was right. In December of 1944, Betsie ten Boom left Ravensbruck to be at home with her Lord. A few days later, Corrie’s name was called by the guards. She had not been referred by her given name in years; she had become “Prisoner 66730.” Corrie was told that she would be released. She was given train passes, three days of ration cards, a fresh silk blouse, clean skirt, and incredibly the belongings she had left aside when she entered the camp: some Dutch money and her mother’s ring.

Corrie made it home to Haarlem and recuperated. She was greeted by her sister Nollie, Peter, and her brother Willhem who died soon after from developing spinal tuberculosis in a concentration camp. Her nephew Christiaan, who had been twenty-four when taken into custody, did not return.

Corrie had made it home safely but she no longer felt at home. Betsie’s proclamation burned in her heart. She needed to tell people about the forgiveness and love of Jesus. At age fifty-three Corrie began a worldwide ministry that would take her into more than sixty countries over the next thirty-two years. She would share her story with whomever would listen. She always said that in all of her travels the Germany people were the most desolate in need of love. It would be ten years after she left Ravensbruck, that she would return to learn that her release had been a clerical error and only one week after she had left, all women her age had been put to death.

The vision that Betsie saw did come to pass. A wealthy Dutch woman who had come to hear Corrie speak, told her afterward that she had three sons at home, one was still in the war. The Lord had told her that her son would indeed return home and as a “thank-you” she would give her home to Corrie for her use. It was a mansion with fifty-six room, wooden floors, picturesque statues, colorful gardens, and windows so tall that sunlight poured in. The home, Bloemendal, became a place of healing and rest, just as Betsie had spoken of.

Corrie has written many books about her life and faith. In the 1970s a movie was made of her book “The Hiding Place” with the help of Billy Graham.

Corrie ten Boom and her family were faithful advocates of God’s love. Corrie died on her 91st birthday, April 15, 1983. Corrie's passing occurred on her birthday. In the Jewish tradition, it is only very blessed people who are allowed the special privilege of dying on their birthday!

"There is no pit so dark that the love of Jesus cannot reach deaper still." -Corrie ten Boom


Carlson, Carole C. Corrie ten Boom: Her Life, Her Faith. Fleming H. Revell Company. Old

      Tappan, New Jersey. 1983.

The Beje was converted into a museum.Their web site has a wondrful interactive tour of the home inside and out.

This is an interview with Corrie from 1974.

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