By Hannah Brzozowski
As a child, my mom didn’t read me the typical bedtime stories. Instead, she read me books like The Hobbit and The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom’s most famous book (definitely not written for children). It’s a book of triumph and bravery but it has a lot of heartache and death. Most of all, it tell’s the story of Corrie standing up for what was right and sharing her faith, no matter the cost, even to the point of death.
Corrie Ten Boom was born in 1892, in the Netherlands. Her father was a watchmaker and, as an adult, she became the first woman to be licensed as a watchmaker in Holland. She had two sisters, Nollie and Betsie, and a brother. They were well known in the community for having a devout faith and for helping those in need.
Once the Nazi’s came into Holland, people around them started looking to the Ten Boom’s for help. She (and her family) started to take in Jews and others in danger. Fortunately, their house included a secret room, which worked to hide them. Since their phones were most likely tapped, they had codes set up for people to ask for help. If someone said “I have another watch to fix,” it meant that there was another person that needed help. If Gastapo or any unknown visitors stopped by, the people would rush to the room and hide.
Over the course of four years, the Ten Boom family saved over 800 lives!
“Whenever we cannot love in the old, human way, Corrie, God can give us his perfect way.” - Casper Ten Boom
In February of 1944, the family was betrayed by an informant for the Nazi’s. They were immediately arrested, interrogated, and taken to concentration camps. Just ten days later, her father died. Corrie and Betsie were together at the camp, clinging to God throughout the horrific happenings there. Wanting to continue to help others, even while in prison, they would hold secret Bible studies and prayer meetings in the barracks with other prisoners, having to use a smuggled Bible. Obviously, the Nazi’s didn’t approve of these Bible studies and so they had to be very careful whenever the guards would stop by unannounced. At one point, they thanked God for fleas in their barracks because that meant that the guards wouldn’t come by to check on them.
In December of 1944, Betsie became very ill and ended up passing away. Her last words were: "… (we) must tell them what we have learned here. We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He (God) is not deeper still. They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here.”
Just two weeks after Betsie died, Corrie was released because of a clerical error. And shortly after, all the women her age were put to death. That seemingly random oversight kept Corrie alive.
After her release, she didn't stop there, but continued to minister to people. Corrie started to help those who were wrecked by the war and concentration camp and began sharing her story all over the world. One day, in a church meeting in which she was speaking, she saw a man that was avoiding eye contact. She recognized him as a guard from the concentration camp who had been especially cruel to her sister. He asked her for forgiveness.
She paused. Then, she forgave the man that caused her such heart ache.
“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” - Corrie Ten Boom
As I’m sitting on my comfortable couch with my dog taking a nap next to me, I’m thinking about Corrie’s remarkable faith throughout her life. Her story challenges me to the core. It makes me wonder what I would do in any of those situations. Would I stand up for what was right, even if that meant my family and I would be thrown in a concentration camp? Would I be willing to sacrifice my life to save others? After being arrested, would I continue to cling to Jesus in the camps, in the interrogations, while I was starving, disease all around me, and knowing that I could die at any moment? After my miraculous release, would I continue to give and forgive selflessly?
For Corrie, this extraordinary courage began with relatively small acts. She developed a relationship with God. Then, she brought one person in. Then another. Over time, it numbered eight hundred people saved. One act of faith after another, knowing that even if she did die, she was right in the center of the God's will. I want to have faith with action like that.
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” - Corrie Ten Boom
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