“God does not have problems. Only plans,” proclaimed Corrie ten Boom when a clerical error allowed her to be released from a Nazi concentration camp one week before all women prisoners her age were executed.
Corrie and her family helped Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II and, by all accounts, saved nearly 800 lives. Cornelia “Corrie” ten Boom was born in Haarlem, Netherlands, in 1892, and grew up in a devoutly Christian family. Family members were strict Calvinists in the Dutch Reformed Church. Faith inspired them to serve society, offering shelter, food and money to those in need. Generations of ten Booms held Christian prayer meetings for Israel for 100 years prior to World War II. In this tradition, the family held a deep respect for the Jewish community in Amsterdam, considering them “God’s ancient people.” During World War II, the Beje house became a refuge for Jews, students and intellectuals. The entire ten Boom family became active in the Dutch resistance, risking their lives harboring those hunted by the Gestapo. She and her family harbored hundreds of Jews to protect them from arrest by Nazi authorities. Betrayed by a fellow Dutch citizen, the entire family was imprisoned. All ten Boom family members were incarcerated, including Corrie’s 84-year-old father, who soon died. Corrie and her sister Betsie were remanded to the notorious Ravensbrück concentration camp, near Berlin. Betsie died there on December 16, 1944. Twelve days later, Corrie was released for reasons not completely known.
After the war, Ten Boom returned to The Netherlands to set up a rehabilitation center. The refugee houses consisted of concentration-camp survivors and sheltered the jobless Dutch who previously collaborated with Germans during the occupation. She returned to Germany in 1946, and traveled the world as a public speaker, appearing in more than 60 countries. She wrote many books during this time. Corrie started a worldwide ministry and later told her story in a book entitled The Hiding Place. In 1977, at age 85, Corrie ten Boom moved to Placentia, California. She died on her 91st birthday, April 15, 1983. Her passing on this date evokes the Jewish traditional belief that states that only specially blessed people are granted the privilege of dying on the date they were born.
Here are some quotes from the autobiographical book The Hiding Place.
“I had believed the Bible always, but reading it now had nothing to do with belief. It was simply a description of the way things were–of hell and heaven, of how men act and how God acts.”
“Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word. . . . Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.”
“When He tells us to love our enemies He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”
“Love is larger than the walls which shut it in.”
“There are no ‘ifs’ in God’s Kingdom. His timing is perfect. His will is our hiding place. Lord Jesus, keep me in Your will! Don’t let me go mad by poking about outside it.”
“And for all these people alike, the key to healing turned out to be the same. Each had a hurt he had to forgive.”
“and here I felt a strange leaping of my heart-God did! My job was to simply follow His leading one step at a time, holding every decision up to him in prayer.”
“This is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.”
“In darkness God’s truth shines most clear.”
“If God has shown us bad times ahead, it’s enough for me that He knows about them. That’s why He sometimes shows us things, you know – to tell us that this too is in His hands.”
“God’s viewpoint is sometimes different from ours – so different that we could not even guess at it unless He had given us a Book which tells us such things….In the Bible I learn that God values us not for our strength or our brains but simply because He has made us.”
“Whenever we cannot love in the old, human way . . . God can give us the perfect way.”
“Corrie, if people can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love! We must find the way, you and I, no matter how long it takes.”
“Happiness isn’t something that depends on our surroundings, Corrie. It’s something we make inside ourselves.”
ON LOSING HER FIRST LOVE
“…suddenly I was afraid of what Father would say. Afraid he would say, “There’ll be someone else soon,” and that forever afterward this untruth would lie between us. For in some deep part of me I knew already that there would not–soon or ever–be anyone else.
The sweet cigar-smell came into the room with Father. And of course he did not say the false, idle words.
“Corrie,” he began instead, “do you know what hurts so very much? It’s love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain.
“There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill the love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or, Corrie, we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel.
“God loves Karel–even more than you do–and if you ask Him, He will give you His love for this man, a love nothing can prevent, nothing destroy. Whenever we cannot love in the old, human way, Corrie, God can give us his perfect way.”
I did not know, as I listened to Father’s footsteps winding back down the stairs, that he had given me more than the key to this hard moment. I did not know that he had put into my hands the secret that would open far darker rooms than this–places where there was not, on a human level, anything to love at all.”
ON THE JEWS
“One day as Father and I were returning from our walk we found the Grote Markt cordoned off by a double ring of police and soldiers. A truck was parked in front of the fish mart; into the back were climbing men, women, and children, all wearing the yellow star. . . .
“Father! Those poor people!” I cried. . . .
“Those poor people,” Father echoed. But to my surprise I saw that he was looking at the solders now forming into ranks to march away. “I pity the poor Germans, Corrie. They have touched the apple of God’s eye.”
“At last we heard Father’s footsteps winding up the stairs. It was the best moment in every day, when he came up to tuck us in. We never fell asleep until he had arranged the balnkets in his special way and laid his hand for a moment on each head. Then we tried not to move even a toe.
But that night as he stepped through the door I burst into tears. “I need you!” I sobbed. “You can’t die! You can’t!”
Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. “Corrie,” he began gently, “when you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?” I sniffed a few times, considering this. “Why, just before we get on the train.”
“Exactly. And our wise Father in Heaven knows when we’re going to need things too. Don’t run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need–just in time.”