the hiding place

The Hiding Place – Life of Corrie Ten Boom

Hello, Friends, has anyone of you read The Hiding Place? It’s about the life of Corrie Ten Boom by Elizabeth & John Sherrill. Before a priest posted something about her some years ago, I had never even heard of her. Then, I read the book, The Hiding Place. I can only say that it’s a pity that the Catholic Church only canonize Catholics, at least for now. I feel that Corrie, and perhaps more so, her sister, Betsie, would deserve a saintly recognition.

A few things about this amazing woman
  • Corrie ten Boom was born in Haarlem, Netherlands on April 15, 1892. Wouldn’t you know it? She passed from this life on the exact say day ninety-one years later in 1983.
  • The Ten Boom family operated a watchmaker’s shop. Corrie was the first woman to be a licensed watchmaker in Holland.
  • When the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, Corrie decided to help the refugees. Later, the family even built a secret room behind her bedroom to hide the Jews or anyone in the resistance movement.
  • Sadly, an informant betrayed them. The whole family was arrested along with many of the people hiding in the house. The father was sent to Scheveningen prison and soon died. Corrie and her sister, Betsie, went to the Ravensbruck concentration camp. Betsie never made it out alive. She died on December 16, 1944. Soon afterwards, Corrie was miraculously released from prison.
During captivity
  • During their time in captivity, Corrie and Betsie held worship services in the barracks with the other women. No matter their faith tradition, they would listen to the Word of God. Corrie writes, “A single meeting might include a recital of the Magnifacat in Latin by a group on Roman Catholics, a whispered hymn by some Lutherans, and  a sotto-voce chant by Eastern Orthodox women. With each moment, the crowd around us would swell… At last either Betsie or I would open the Bible. Because only the Hollanders could understand the Dutch text, we would translate aloud in German. And then we would hear the life-giving words passed back along the aisles in French, Polish, Russian, Czech, and back into Dutch.
  • One incident stuck in my mind: This happened when they first saw their barrack swarming with fleas. Corrie was having doubts about how they would live in such a condition when Betsie suddenly exclaimed, “He’s given us the answer!…’Give thanks in all circumstances!'” Reluctantly, Corrie began to intone her thanks after prodding from her sister. But when Betsie began to thank for the fleas, Corrie said, “There’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.” But Betsie prevailed explaining that the verse said “in all circumstances,” not just the pleasant ones. Later, Corrie would find out that they had so much freedom in there because the guards wouldn’t go near the fleas.
Message about Forgiveness

Perhaps the most inspiring tale in the book appeared toward the end when Corrie was at a church service in Munich. She spotted the man who had been a SS guard at Ravensbruck.

“He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. ‘How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein.’ He said. ‘To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!’ His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
“Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him. I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand, but could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I prayed, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.
“As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”
Reading about her life has definitely made an impact on me. I wonder if that’s a factor why I don’t normally read historical novels unless it has something to do with WWII and the resistance or the brave people who helped the Jews. (see post here)
The Ten Boom family house is now a museum. For more information, please see here.
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