by Dan Balow
Since I blog on Tuesdays and the next April 15 to fall on a Tuesday is not for another eleven years, I felt like I couldn’t pass up this opportunity.
Corrie ten Boom was born on this date in 1892 and died on this date in 1983. If Evangelicals were in the habit of naming saints, she would among them.
For those unaware of this great Christian woman, she and her family helped many Jews escape the Nazis during World War Two in occupied Holland. The classic book, The Hiding Place (Chosen Books, 1971) and movie (1975) by the same name chronicled this dramatic story.
Seventy years ago, in early 1944, an informant told German soldiers about a secret room in the ten Booms family home in Haarlem, Holland used for hiding Jews so they would not be sent to concentration camps. (The picture above is the entrance to that secret room, now preserved)
The Nazi’s raided the house and arrested the entire family. After a stop in a nearby prison camp, Corrie and her sister Betsie were eventually transferred to Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany, about 50 miles north of Berlin.
Shortly before she died in December 1944, Betsie told Corrie, “There is no pit so deep that He (God) is not deeper still.” They would become words burned into Corrie’s soul and the souls of people who heard Corrie speak in the 70’s after The Hiding Place released and became an international bestseller.
Twelve days after Betsie died, Corrie was unexpectedly released from the camp in what was discovered later as a “clerical error” on the part of the Germans.
During my freshman year at Wheaton College (IL), Corrie came to campus to speak at a mandatory 10:30 am chapel for students on November 12, 1974. Forty years later I can still see the little 82 year-old woman speaking quietly to 2,000 wide and teary-eyed college students and faculty…giving testimony to God’s love, grace, forgiveness, faithfulness and mercy. And for a brief moment, self-absorbed college students got a taste for what it meant to completely surrender to Jesus Christ.
John and Elizabeth Sherrill wrote The Hiding Place, but according to some accounts, they came to hear about Corrie in the mid-1960’s while researching another book, God’s Smuggler, the story of another Dutchman, Andrew van der Bijl (Brother Andrew) which was published in 1967. Brother Andrew and Corrie travelled for ministry together.
I started out wanting to write about Corrie ten Boom on the date she was born and died, because she is a Christian hero in our definition of the word, but undoubtedly, in God’s as well. (Sometimes those two definitions are not the same)
But once I had a chance to revisit her life and consider her impact on the Christian publishing world, as well as that of John and Elizabeth Sherrill, I was reminded that the greatest stories are those where God is involved throughout a journey and often unseen. Sometimes the plot and characters are unexpected and the outcome is even more surprising.
God is in the process of writing our stories every day and giving those of you who write, new material, often from unexpected places.
Corrie ten Boom once commented on how we should trust God’s faithfulness and work in our lives through all circumstances when she said, “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away your ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”
Be still, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)