Corrie Ten Boom: Doing God’s Work by Hiding
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
A woman with a suitcase and in desperate need knocked on Corrie Ten Boom’s door. It was 1942 in the Netherlands, and the Gestapo were close to finding the woman. The previous day, the Gestapo had gone to her apartment looking for her. The woman knew she could no longer go home; she was Jewish, and the Germans had begun the process of rounding up Jews in the Netherlands.
Corrie answered the knock and invited the woman into her house. She told Corrie about her trouble. When Corrie asked why she had come to her house, the woman replied, “I heard from a member of the Dutch resistance that you could help.”
Corrie lived with her father and sister Betsie in Amsterdam. Trained by her father, Casper, Corrie had become the first female watchmaker in the Netherlands in 1922. They agreed to allow the woman to stay with them despite the potential danger she posed.
The Hiding Place
As time wore on, more Jewish people came to their house, and the Ten Booms continued to conceal their visitors. Over time, the Dutch resistance helped build a concealed safe room to hide these visitors. Her house became known as the “Hiding Place.”
As the group of hidden Jews grew in size, feeding them became a problem. The Dutch people had been put on food rationing and were issued ration cards to buy food. Corrie went to a friend who was in charge of the ration cards. She had entered his office thinking she would ask for five books but instead blurted out, “Can I have one hundred?” Stunningly, the man agreed and gave her one hundred ration books.
Over time, the Ten Boom’s secret could no longer be kept. An informant told the Gestapo, who raided the house. The Ten Booms were arrested on February 1944.
Corrie, Betsie, and Casper were sent to concentration camps. While in prison, Corrie received a note that cryptically said, “All your watches are safe.” The Jews she had been hiding had all escaped. Sadly, her father, Casper, died six days after arriving in the camps.
Corrie and Betsie established a Bible study while in the concentration camp, using a concealed Bible that they’d hidden from their captors. Late at night, the group met, read the Bible and prayed. They were never discovered.
Betsie later became ill.
Before she died, she told Corrie, “There is no pit so deep that God isn’t deeper still.” These words of encouragement comforted Corrie through her nightmare.
Shortly afterward, Corrie was released from prison—the result of a clerical error. The following week, all the people in the concentration camp her age or older were sent to gas chambers.
Corrie returned home and set up the house to take in the mentally disabled, who were also being rounded up for execution. Mercifully, the war ended soon after, and the Dutch were free.
During the period immediately after the war, Corrie set up a refuge center to help those who had survived the concentration camps. Later, she went to Germany to meet with two prison guards who were particularly harsh towards Betsie. She forgave them for what they had done. Over the span of her life, she also wrote many books and became an international speaker. One of the books she wrote, called The Hiding Place, can be found on Amazon by clicking the blue link above.
Corrie lived a life of purpose.
From that first arrival at her doorstep in 1942, she directed herself to helping others. She was a forceful and persuasive person who engendered a large following. She endured much during the war years but never gave in to the terror of living in an occupied country or the horror of being in a concentration camp. Corrie faced up to the evil that abounded in her life and, despite efforts to contain her, she never gave in or gave up.
Corrie died in 1983 at the age of 91.
I admire people like Corrie, not just because they are inspirational, but because they are committed to the Good News of the Gospel, regardless of the potential price. They make me question myself: What would I have done in that situation? Would I have been as brave? Would I love my neighbor at the risk of my own life?
I can only hope I would!
Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman
Dr. Bruce L. Hartman is the author of Jesus & Co. and Your Faith Has Made You Well.
Photo by Fabian Irsara on Unsplash
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