Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Corrie Ten Boom - Light In The Darkness

Without a doubt, anyone who has heard the word "Holocaust" knows that it refers to one of the darkest times in history. The stories that you hear are generally depressing and filled with only suffering and sheer hatred. But this is the story of two women who were able to share light in one of the darkest concentration camps. In this place were Corrie Ten Boom and her sister, Betsie.

Holocaust - A Ray Of Hope
"We must go everywhere, and tell everyone... There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still." Elizabeth Ten Boom ("Betsie") stared into her sister, Corrie's eyes with the pure love that she was.

Ravensbruck was one of the worst concentration camps in Germany. Fleas and lice were so thick that upon entering the bunkroom, one became swarmed in them. The stench of burning flesh from those that were murdered without warning was a constant stare into the face of death. The food was one half pound of bread and one half liter of soup per day. The work was so hard that the women had swollen legs and were losing circulation in no time.

To make matters worse, the women fought one another for everything. They cursed, pushed, and shoved each other. Even if someone was simply stepped on or bumped. Rarely donated clothes and blankets caused horrible uproars. The few nurses who had access to items such as soap, vitamins, and underwear charged prices such as a week's bread ration for undergarments, 25 gilders for soap, and two days' bread for any pills.

So Was There A Ray Of Hope In This Awful Place?
"The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it."
Betsie had been frail from birth and was so weak that she was staggering from the weight of a small pail filled with rocks. The guard laughed at her and imitated Betsie's walk. Some of the prisoners laughed as well. Her sister, Corrie, was astounded. Betsie, too, was laughing! "That is me all right," She said. "But you better let me keep going - any more and I will stop all together." The guard was enraged and began mercilessly whipping Betsie. She cried out repeatedly in pain, but her eyes were filled with compassion.

Corrie and Betsie had smuggled a Bible into the camp and traded it back and forth during the day. If the guards found one or caught anyone having meetings, they were to be executed. At first, the women held these meetings very timidly. But as the weeks wore on and no guards came into the bunkroom, they grew bolder. Corrie marveled at this.

Why was it that no guard came in?

Betsie excitedly told Corrie, "I found out for sure, Corrie. I overheard two guards. The guards will not step foot in the bunkroom because of the FLEAS! Thank God for the fleas!" she exclaimed. The women added that to their prayers daily.

The difficult prices for basic things, commodities that few consider of value, remained the same. But the ray of hope was changing something else. Instead of shoving, clawing, pushing, kicking, or cursing each other, the women were responding with "Sorry! That's okay! No harm done! Excuse me please!" What a change this ray of hope brought in by two women had made.

But How Had Such Gentle Souls Found Themselves Here?
Corrie and Betsie lived with their father, Casper, in Harlem Holland. Casper was a watchmaker and a man of great wisdom. His heart was kind. He was an abundant giver to all in need and well respected in all of Harlem. It was he who went in line and got a star, although he was not Jewish. A Jew in line became angry with him. He replied simply: "If we would all wear them, no one would know the difference between Gentile and Jew."

The Ten Boom house had seven rooms. The roof was right outside Corrie's bedroom window. This was where the "secret room" used to save the lives of hundreds of Jews was hidden. Casper, Corrie, and Betsie took in even the high risk occupants, such as babies and the elderly with breathing problems. They turned no one away.

It was critical to have constant drills, because they never knew when a raid would come. Bedding had to be turned over. No warm spots were to be felt. Others in the house must not be suspected. All waste baskets had to remain empty and trash had to be burned. Food plates must be taken with the people into the secret room, and no food was to be spilled. Can you imagine all this done in under two minutes?

Casper, Betsie and Corrie were arrested and drilled with the same questions over and over again. Corrie was especially drilled by a young, intelligent Lieutenant. He tried to get to her by offering comforts, sitting her in a cozy chair next to a warm fire. Corrie was also very ill at the time, so you better believe that fire felt very good in contrast to her stone cold, lonely cell. The Lieutenant continued to probe, "Tell me about your OTHER work."

"Oh, you mean my work with retarded children?" she would respond. "How we taught them about God in our Bible class."

"Where is your secret room? Where are the Jews?"

"We have no secret room." Corrie was steadfast. No matter how hard and cleverly the guard tried, not one of them ever revealed that there were people in hiding.

Papa - What Is It Like To Die?
Casper Ten Boom was so feeble that he was almost not able to climb into the carriage that took them to the prison. Seeing this, the guard who arrested them said: "Ten Boom, give me your word you will behave yourself, and you can die in your bed, old man, where you belong."

Casper met his cold gaze with an unblinking look. "If I stay behind, I will open my door to anyone who knocks for help."

Shortly after, the family was split apart. "God be with you Papa," the girls called out as he was being dragged away from them, and they from him. "And with you, my daughters." This was the last time they ever saw him.

Casper died, taking ill only ten days after being imprisoned. He was denied medical treatment, and his body was thrown into a pauper's grave.

When given the news of her father's death, Corrie pictured in her mind one of the times where her father's faith and wisdom gave her great peace. Her mother had taken her sister, Nollie, and her with her to comfort a friend who had just lost an infant to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Corrie was really struck by the cold, lifeless body that was clearly in sight. You see, in that culture death was a fact they didn't try to hide.

When he was tucking her into bed that night, Corrie asked: "Papa, what is it like to die?"

Papa Ten Boom did not look away from her, but held his gaze into her eyes. "When we go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?"

Corrie considered this well before answering. "Just before we get on the train."

Still holding his steady gaze, he said to her: "When the time comes, your Heavenly Father will give you all the strength you need."

Free Before The New Year
Corrie sometimes was very tempted to hate all the cruel men around her, particularly the guard who made life extra hard for them. Betsy constantly told her, "No hate, Corrie. Don't look at it. You know you can only give it to Jesus."

The horrible conditions were weakening Betsie's already feeble body. But the weaker she became physically, the stronger her faith became. It did not take long for her to be excused from work, only waiting for her temperature to reach the required admission level - 104 degrees - And then she must wait for a bed to become available.

Betsie began to talk about a plan. "There has to be a plan, Corrie. We must go everywhere and tell everyone. They will believe us, because we were here. There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still."

Betsie saw a vision and described it to Corrie. In it was a concentration camp - not the one where they were, but another - becoming a place of refuge for all who had endured as they had, that they might be free. She also described an elaborate house, much bigger than the one she and Corrie grew up in, that would be used for the same purpose. And she saw in the vision that both of them would be free before the New Year.

Betsie died in the hospital before the New Year.

Corrie was released very shortly after, also before the New Year. She found out that just one week after her release, all the women her age were taken to the gas chambers.

Corrie commented later: "When they called out 'Prisoner 66730, Ten Boom Cornelia,' I did a double-take. I hadn't been called by my name in so long."

Can You Believe It?
Corrie later learned that her release came through a "clerical error." She was not supposed to get released at all.

Corrie went into over 60 countries and fulfilled both of Betsie's visions. She told her story to anyone who would listen.

This light that they brought with them is Jesus.

His love gave Corrie what it took to forgive that nasty guard who harassed Betsie and her while they were naked in that freezing shower. The same man who beat Betsie mercilessly. She was able to forgive that man only because of Him.

(article taken from http://www.squidoo.com/corrie-ten-boom)


  1. Heather,

    Never have reading that story I was taken back in time, to a time with Corrie and her sister. The way it was written reminds us that God never leaves us, never forsakes us. He allowed Corrie the will to survive despite the overwhelming desire to simply just give up.

    I look forward to the day, when we are all united in heaven and can share in the joy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ together.

    What a testimony to share and thank you for posting it here. My daughter, just took a field trip to the Museum of Tolerance here in LA, where she got to witness some of the things that took place in history during the Holocaust. She said she cried when their tour guide showed them the tatooes from the concentration camps.

    How much my soul grieves for those that lost their lives, and those that even to this day, doubt the existence of such a time in History.

    One day, all knees will bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  2. Someone great once said: "He who does not learn from history is destined to repeat it."

    Sadly, America is heading in that direction: prayer has been taken out of schools, the 10 Commandments have been removed from the courthouse, and the fight continues to take "In God We Trust" off our money and "Under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance.

    "America, oh America! What hast thou done to thyself?"
    "America, America, God shed His Grace on thee!"
    "God HAS Blessed America - I only pray He will continue to have mercy and bless."

  3. Thank you for sharing this. A powerful testimony. How great it was to find such hope that comes from Jesus, even in a bleak situation! God bless.

  4. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful post.

  5. I am never tired of hearing about Corrie Ten Boom's faith. I am always amazed! I can't imagine what these precious people endured.

    Thank you for sharing!

  6. What a tragic but inspiring story. I have never heard of Carrie Boom before so I thank you for sharing this post!

  7. Thank you for posting this story. I loved the line "Thank God for the fleas" So many times we ask God why we are having to endure something. He alone knows His will in it...we need to relax and let Him hold us firm in HIs embrace.


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I am Elizabeth Bennet of Pride & Prejudice! I am intelligent, witty, and tremendously attractive. I have a good head on my shoulders, and oftentimes find myself the lone beacon of reason in a sea of ridiculousness. I take great pleasure in many things. I am proficient in nearly all of them, though I will never own it. Lest I seem too perfect, I have a tendency toward prejudgement that serves me very ill indeed.

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