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 be 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)
Thank you for this wonderful reminder of a great lady. I read her book and cried because of the treatment of her family, the atrocities in the prison, and her great faith. The pictures I saw after the camps were liberated made a tremendous impression on me as a nine year old girl, and reading Corrie’s book as an adult brought back those memories. As bad as those memories are to me, I never want to forget the sacrifices so many people have made because of their faith. God never leaves us and never fails us.
“Be still and know that I am God.” If we could only remember this when the world seems all chaos. In the worst of times, that holy stillness can be the rock on which one stands.
Thank you for reminding us of this powerful woman and her testimony. I was never privileged to hear her speak, but the book had a powerful effect on my life. We do well to remember the saints that have gone before us and try to emulate their lives, dedication, and power in the Holy Spirit.
Dan what a beautiful reminder of an amazing lady. Corrie ten Boom lived her faith out loud. Worked through her struggles and continued trusting God through them. What a testimony in this day and age. How wonderful that you got to hear and see her in person. I look forward to meeting her in heaven.
I, too, was moved by her book, and by the movie that portrayed her life, her beliefs and how she worked through her losses.
God has a unique story He’s writing with each of us, doesn’t He? I love seeing how He works in my life and the lives of those around me. And how He gives unexpected story twists when I’m writing a story. 🙂
Great truths here today!
Thanks for the blog. With everyone talking about the blood moon, this–for me–was a better reminder of who God is and what He wants from me. In fact, this “laying down your life” refrain is coming from all directions these days. The only answer then is “Yes, Lord.”
Thank you so much for posting this. Corrie’s story is one of my favorites…in fact I named my next-to-youngest daughter after her. 🙂 Very cool to know today is both her birthday and flying-home-to-Jesus day!
Terrance Leon Austin
Thank you Dan. Bless YOU.
Corrie, sweet Corrie, was real. She wondered why God took Betsy and not her. Her humility lives in her words, her honesty in her relationship with the living God and she continues to show us the value of a yielding heart. This is the mark of a hero of the faith – her faith is timeless and we can enter in. Thank you, Dan, for reminding us she came to America as a missionary. We needed her and she did not disappoint.
What a wonderful reminder, Dan about Corrie ten Boom–and also for those of us who write and work in publishing that stories often come from unexpected places. Thank you.
I just finished the latest biography on Dietrich Bonnhoeffer. While his journey was substantially different than Corrie’s, just knowing that such a man existed made me feel that I’ve never really accomplished anything of importance. But God reminds me that people like this never set out to do great things, they are used by Him when the time is right. Our duty to God is to be ready. That is how we remain within His will. I can only pray that my actions, like the heroes mentioned here, meet with His approval.
I was privileged to hear Corrie Ten Boome speak. I have a special interest of that time period because I my sister-in-law was 15 living in northern Germany when Hitler invaded Poland. I was privileged to write her memoirs of that time period. We dare not forget all the people who put their life on the line to hide and protect the Jewish people. And we dare not forget how easy it is for people to go from friendly neighbor to hatred and rejection. I only pray that we won’t be so tested. May God help each of us when we are tested that we let Him lead and follow whatever the cost.
Dan, I was also in that auditorium in Wheaton the day Corrie spoke. When the average-looking older lady came out on the stage I wondered what she had to say to the brilliant students at Wheaton. Two seconds later, I knew! I don’t recall what Corrie said that day, but I will never forget the overwhelming power of the Holy Spirit that she brought into that auditorium that day. That was God in action. I sat on the top row in the balcony which was as close as I could get. I could barely see her down on the stage. But God showed what an average person can be when they are totally sold out to Jesus. Corrie walked in the Spirit. I’m certain other lives were touched as mine was. I’ll never forget her.
I had the privilege of visiting her home and got to hear her speak at our church in Europe back in the late 1970s. Amazing. Thanks for the reminder–did not realize this was her birthday. She was, and continues to be, an inspiration.
Patti Jo Moore
This gave me chills, Dan…what a remarkable lady Corrie was!
How awesome you had the chance to hear her speak.
Thank you for sharing this post–and this reminder with us today. God is the Master Author and He has a special plan for each of us. 🙂
Dan, what a lovely post! Thank you!