Shortly after her release from a German concentration camp Corrie ten Boom started traveling throughout her home country of Holland and then to other countries of the world, sharing her hope-filled message of God’s love, forgiveness, healing and joy even in life’s darkest, most desperate circumstances. For more than three decades she crisscrossed the globe, sharing the Gospel of Christ and her Christian testimony in over sixty countries.

Corrie had a remarkable ability to communicate effectively with all different kinds of people in all varieties of settings. She shared the message of God’s love and salvation with royalty in palaces, government officials in embassies, celebrities at posh social gatherings, intellectuals and students in universities and schools, illiterate local people in their villages, upstanding citizens in service clubs, criminals in prisons, patients in hospitals and beggars on the street. Corrie seemed at ease and effective whether ministering to thousands in a large crusade or church meeting or to a single individual in an airport or restaurant.

While it was rewarding to minister around the world, it certainly was not an easy life. She normally soldiered through the challenges and hardships of itinerant ministry with remarkable willingness and selflessness. But occasionally the difficulties and sacrifices took a toll on her, and she was tempted to give in to self-pity or to give up altogether. Invariably at those times, the Lord brought circumstances into her life that helped her through the discouragements and renewed her determination to carry on in the ministry He had for her.

Once while ministering in Japan Corrie arrived at an evening church service feeling thoroughly sorry for herself. She was very tired and her stomach was upset from the unusual food she had been eating. Corrie longed for a good European meal back in Holland, a table where she would not have to sit cross-legged on the floor and a soft bed rather than the hard mats on which the Japanese slept.

At the church service that night Corrie spotted a bent little man in a wheelchair. His face bore the happiest expression she could imagine. After the service Corrie’s interpreter introduced her to the man. He smiled broadly when she inquired about several small packets wrapped in brown paper and tied with string on his lap.

Carefully unwrapping one of the packages to show Corrie its contents, he explained, “This is the Gospel of John, written in Braille. I have just finished it.” He went on to share that this was the fifteenth time he had written the Gospel of John in Braille. He had also written other Gospels as well as many shorter portions of the Bible for the blind.

“How did you come to do this?” she asked.

The man proceeded to tell Corrie about the Bible women in Japan who travel from village to village, taking copies of the Bible along with Christian books and pamphlets to those who are hungry for God. “Our Bible woman is very ill with tuberculosis,” he said, “but she travels every week to sixteen villages, even though she will soon die.”

“When I heard about it,” he continued, “I asked the Lord what I could do to help her. Although my legs are paralyzed, and I cannot get out of the wheelchair, in many ways I am healthier than she. God showed me that though her hands are shaky and my legs paralyzed, I could be the hands, and she the legs. I punch out the pages of Braille, and she takes the Bible around to the villages and gives them to the blind people, who miss so much because they cannot see.”

Corrie left the church that evening filled with shame. “Here was I,” she later divulged, “with two good legs for traveling all over the world, two good lungs and two good eyes, complaining because I didn’t like the food!”

She also related the valuable lesson she learned through that incident: “These precious people had discovered a sure cure for self-pity – service to others. … The best antidote I know for self-pity is to help someone else who is worse off than you.”

#          #          #


Women of Faith and Courage by Vance Christie

A fuller account of Corrie ten Boom’s upbringing, early years of ministry, heroic endeavors during World War 2 and fruitful worldwide ministry in the closing decades of her life is provided in my book Women of Faith and Courage (Christian Focus, 2011). Corrie’s inimitable telling of the events of her life is found in her autobiographical works such as The Hiding PlaceTramp for the Lord, and Jesus Is Victor. Carole Carlson’s Corrie ten Boom: Her Life, Her Faith is an excellent one-volume account of Corrie’s life and ministry.

Copyright 2017 by Vance E. Christie


Artist's depiction of Corrie and Betsie ten Boom reading God's Word to fellow prisoners

Artist’s depiction of Corrie and Betsie ten Boom reading God’s Word to fellow prisoners

(Parental advisory: Some of the content of this Perspective is unsuitable for young children.)

Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie were imprisoned in Ravensbruck, the notorious Nazi women’s concentration camp, during World War 2. Of over 130,000 prisoners incarcerated at Ravensbruck, only 40,000 survived. But the ministry of Corrie and Betsie while there shows the incredible power of God’s Word to bring light and life to the darkest, most-desperate human situations.

At the Ravensbruck processing center for new arrivals each woman had to surrender whatever possessions she had brought to the camp, strip off every scrap of clothes and walk naked past a dozen watchful guards into the shower room. After showering she was given nothing more than a thin prison dress and a pair of shoes to wear. Corrie and Betsie begged a guard to show them the toilets and were tersely ordered to use the drain holes in the shower room. There, behind a stack of old wooden benches piled in a far corner, they hid a compact Bible, a vitamin bottle and a blue sweater they had brought to the prison.

Ravensbruck female prisoners at roll call, in The Hiding Place movie

Ravensbruck female prisoners at roll call, in The Hiding Place movie

After showering and selecting their prison clothes from heaps on the floor just inside the shower room door, Corrie sought to hide their little bundle of precious possessions under her prison dress. She afterward related: “I flattened it out as best I could … but there was no real concealing it beneath the thin cotton dress. And all the while I had the incredible feeling that it didn’t matter, that this was not my business, but God’s. That all I had to do was walk straight ahead.

“As we trooped back out through the shower room door, the S.S. men ran their hands over every prisoner, front, back and sides. The woman ahead of me was searched three times. Behind me, Betsie was searched. No hand touched me. At the exit door to the building was a second ordeal, a line of women guards examining each prisoner again. I slowed down as I reached them but the officer in charge shoved me roughly by the shoulder. ‘Move along! You’re holding up the line!’ And so Betsie and I arrived at Barracks 8 in the small hours of that morning, bringing not only the Bible, but a new knowledge of the power of Him whose story it was.”

Roll call began promptly at 4:30 each morning, was held out in the predawn chill and sometimes lasted for hours. Throughout that time the prisoners were required to stand at parade attention. Immediately next to them were located the punishment barracks. Of the overwhelming nightmarish suffering they observed in those days, Corrie later wrote: “From there [the punishment barracks], all day long and often into the night, came the sounds of hell itself. They were not the sounds of anger, or of any human emotion, but of a cruelty altogether detached: blows landing in regular rhythm, screams keeping pace. We would stand [at role call] in our ten-deep ranks with our hands trembling at our sides, longing to jam them against our ears, to make the sounds stop. …

Corrie ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom

“It grew harder and harder. Even within these four walls [of Barracks 8] there was too much misery, too much seemingly pointless suffering. Every day something else failed to make sense, something else grew too heavy. ‘Will You carry this too, Lord Jesus?’ ”

However, Corrie also testified of a redemptive spiritual reality that God brought about through their ministry of His Word in that blackest of settings: “But as the rest of the world grew stranger, one thing became increasingly clear – and that was the reason the two of us were here. Why others should suffer we were not shown. As for us, from morning until lights-out, whenever we were not in ranks for roll call, our Bible was the center of an ever-widening circle of help and hope. Like waifs clustered around a blazing fire, we gathered about it, holding out our hearts to its warmth and light. The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the Word of God. ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us’ [Romans 8:35, 37].

“I would look about us as Betsie read, watching the light leap from face to face. More than conquerors. … It was not a wish. It was a fact. We knew it, we experienced it minute by minute – poor, hated, hungry. We are more than conquerors. Not ‘we shall be’. We are! Life in Ravensbruck took place on two separate levels, mutually impossible. One, the observable, external life, grew every day more horrible. The other, the life we lived with God, grew daily better, truth upon truth, glory upon glory.”

Betsie gradually weakened and died at Ravensbruck. A short while later, due to a clerical error, Corrie was released. She went on to devote the remainder of her life to sharing and showing the light and hope of God’s Word to benighted, hopeless people around the world.


#          #          #

Women of Faith and Courage by Vance Christie

A fuller account of Corrie ten Boom’s upbringing, early years of ministry, heroic endeavors during World War 2 and fruitful worldwide ministry in the closing decades of her life is provided in my book Women of Faith and Courage (Christian Focus, 2011). Corrie’s inimitable telling of the events of her life is found in her autobiographical works such as The Hiding Place, Tramp for the Lord, and Jesus Is Victor. Carole Carlson’s Corrie ten Boom: Her Life, Her Faith is an excellent one-volume account of Corrie’s life and ministry.

Copyright 2017 by Vance E. Christie

Corrie ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983) is best known through the book and movie The Hiding Place for the courage, faith and love she and her family members manifested by harboring Jews from Nazis during World War 2 and while being imprisoned in a German concentration camp. But most people know little or nothing about the first half century of Corrie’s life – formative decades filled with active, fruitful service of the Lord and others.

Corrie’s parents, Casper and Cor ten Boom, were devout Dutch Reformed Christians with hearts of warm devotion for the Lord and compassionate concern for the people around them. In addition to raising their four children, Casper and Cor invited three of Cor’s sisters, two spinsters and a widow, to live in their modest home in Haarlem, Holland. Casper struggled to support so many people on his limited income as a watchmaker, but the family was rich in many other ways.

Corrie ten Boom (standing) with her family

Corrie ten Boom (standing) with her family

Every morning and evening without fail, regardless of whatever else was on the family schedule, Casper gathered the entire household for the reading of a chapter of Scripture and prayer. Casper and Cor saw to it that their three daughters received a secondary education while their son achieved both university and seminary degrees. The children were also taught an appreciation for hymns and classical music, with each child learning to sing and play one or more musical instruments. Guests were frequently at the family dinner table, and Mrs. ten Boom was constantly baking a loaf of bread or cooking a pot of porridge to be delivered to some pale young mother or lonesome old man.

In addition to graduating from secondary school, Corrie completed a course of studies at a Bible school in Haarlem. She played a major role in helping to care for family members at home and in assisting her father with his watchmaking business. In an era and a country where young women were not involved in the business world, she went to school in Basel, Switzerland, for two years to learn the watchmaking trade. She eventually became the first licensed woman watchmaker in Holland.

Ten Boom Home and Watchshop in Haarlem, Holland

Ten Boom Home and Watchshop in Haarlem, Holland

As the years passed, Corrie’s mother and three maternal aunts passed away. Corrie’s brother Willem and sister Nollie were both married and established households of their own, while Corrie continued to live in her girlhood home with her father Casper and her sister Betsie. For several months following World War 1, Casper, Corrie and Betsie took into their home a small group of frightened and undernourished German boys and girls. In 1925 the ten Booms took in the son and two daughters of a missionary couple serving in Indonesia. In the years that followed, eleven different foster children stayed in their home, with as many as seven living there at the same time.

Besides working at the watch shop and helping care for the children, Corrie taught Sunday school and Bible classes in the public schools. At the encouragement of a friend, she started a ministry to teen girls. Corrie’s exceptional organizational and leadership abilities were soon manifested. In a short time she recruited forty leaders to work with the large numbers of girls who flocked to her youth club. Club meetings consisted of games, music and a Bible study, while training activities included instrumental music, singing, sewing, handcrafts, folk dancing and gymnastics.

Corrie organized a number of such clubs. Before long a club meeting was being held every night. Girls who desired to learn more about spiritual matters were encouraged to join a confirmation class in one of the local Dutch Reformed congregations.

Corrie Ten Boom as a young lady

Corrie Ten Boom as a young lady

Another ministry that Corrie started up was a Sunday afternoon ‘church’ service for individuals with learning difficulties. If a disabled boy or girl wanted to join one of her clubs, or if a pastor approached her about such a person who was disrupting the normal Sunday service, she invited those individuals to her ‘special’ church. Corrie was burdened to share the Gospel with these people who could not understand a sermon but needed the Savior. She carried out this compassionate ministry for two decades.

A summer camp ministry for members of her various girls’ clubs was another of Corrie’s ventures. Early outings were done with tents while later ones were held at a plain log cabin that had room for about sixty girls. The highlight of each day was the evening campfire when the girls sat around the fire, wrapped in blankets, to sing and listen to Corrie’s meditation. They enjoyed her great sense of humor and her wonderful stories that always had a significant spiritual point.

Corrie’s girls clubs paved the way for the founding of the Girl Guide clubs of Holland, a European equivalent of the Girl Scouts of America. Corrie promoted a definite spiritual emphasis in the Girl Guide organization, believing that girls needed to be won to Christ rather than merely taught to be good citizens.

All too soon the events of World War 2 swirled down upon Holland, and the girls’ clubs were forced to close. The last time Corrie met with her club members, the girls struggled to sing the national anthem through their tears. “Girls, don’t cry,” she encouraged them. “We have had great fun in our clubs, but that wasn’t why we came together. Jesus makes us strong, even in times of war and disaster.”

#          #          #

Women of Faith and Courage by Vance Christie

A fuller account of Corrie ten Boom’s upbringing, early years of ministry, heroic endeavors during World War 2 and fruitful worldwide ministry in the closing decades of her life is provided in my book Women of Faith and Courage (Christian Focus, 2011). Corrie’s inimitable telling of the events of her life is found in her autobiographical works such as The Hiding Place, Tramp for the Lord, and Jesus Is Victor. Carole Carlson’s Corrie ten Boom: Her Life, Her Faith is an excellent one-volume account of Corrie’s life and ministry.

Copyright 2017 by Vance E. Christie

Thanks everybody for the great response to my Thanksgiving perspectives article on what we can learn about giving thanks in all circumstances from the life of Corrie ten Boom. My friends over at Chosen Books saw the article and wanted to partner up for a special giveaway. Three winners will receive a Corrie ten Boom prize pack featuring the 35th anniversary edition of The Hiding Place, the young reader’s edition of The Hiding Place and Life Lessons from the Hiding Place.

Corrie ten Boom Prize pack

Win a Corrie ten Boom Prize Pack

Corrie ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom

Corrie and Betsie ten Boom were courageous, compassionate Dutch Christians who helped harbor Jews from the Nazis in Holland during World War 2. After the sisters were arrested for doing so, they were imprisoned at Ravensbruck, a German concentration camp.

In their barracks, they were shown to a series of massive square platforms, stacked three levels high and placed so close together that people had to walk single-file to pass between them. Rancid straw was scattered over the platforms, which served as communal beds for hundreds of women. Corrie and Betsie found they could not sit upright on their own platform without hitting their heads on the deck above them. They lay back, struggling against nausea that swept over them from the reeking straw.

Suddenly Corrie started up, striking her head on the cross-slats above. Something had bitten her leg. “Fleas!” she cried. “Betsie, the place is swarming with them!” Descending from the platform and edging down a narrow aisle, they made their way to a patch of light. “Here! And here another one!” Corrie wailed. “Betsie, how can we live in such a place?”

Womens' Barracks in a German Concentration Camp

Womens’ Barracks in a German Concentration Camp

“Show us. Show us how,” Betsie said matter-of-factly. It took Corrie a moment to realize that her sister was praying. “Corrie!” Betsie then exclaimed excitedly. “He’s given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!”

Corrie checked to make sure no guards were nearby, then drew from a pouch a small Bible she had managed to smuggle into the concentration camp. “It was in First Thessalonians,” she said, finding the passage in the feeble light. “Here it is: ‘Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus …’ ” (1 Thessalonians 5:14-18).

Betsie ten Boom

Betsie ten Boom

“That’s it!” Betsie interrupted. “That’s His answer. ‘Give thanks in all circumstances!’ That’s what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this barracks!”

Corrie stared at her incredulously, then around at the dark, foul-smelling room. “Such as?” she inquired.

“Such as being assigned here together.”

Corrie bit her lip. “Oh yes, Lord Jesus!”

“Such as what you’re holding in your hands.”

Corrie looked down at the Bible. “Yes! Thank You, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank You for all the women, here in this room, who will meet You in these pages.”

“Yes,” agreed Betsie. “Thank You for the very crowding here. Since we’re packed so close, that many more will hear!” She looked at her sister expectantly and prodded, “Corrie!”

“Oh, all right. Thank You for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed, suffocating crowds.”

“Thank you,” Betsie continued on serenely, “for the fleas and for …”

That was too much for Corrie. She cut in on her sister: “Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.”

“ ‘Give thanks in all circumstances,” Betsie corrected. “It doesn’t say, ‘in pleasant circumstances.’ Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.” So they stood between the stacks of bunks and gave thanks for fleas, though on that occasion Corrie thought Betsie was surely wrong.

As the weeks passed, Betsie’s health weakened to the point that, rather than needing to go out on work duty each day, she was permitted to remain in the barracks and knit socks together with other seriously-ill prisoners. She was a lightning fast knitter and usually had her daily sock quota completed by noon. As a result, she had hours each day she could spend moving from platform to platform reading the Bible to fellow prisoners. She was able to do this undetected as the guards never seemed to venture far into the barracks.

One evening when Corrie arrived back at the barracks Betsie’s eyes were twinkling.   “You’re looking extraordinarily pleased with yourself,” Corrie told her.

“You know we’ve never understood why we had so much freedom in the big room,” Betsie said, referring to the part of the barracks where the sleeping platforms were. “Well—I’ve found out. This afternoon there was confusion in my knitting group about sock sizes, so we asked the supervisor to come and settle it. But she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t step through the door and neither would the guards. And you know why?” Betsie could not keep the triumph from her voice as she exclaimed, “Because of the fleas! That’s what she said: ‘That place is crawling with fleas!’ ”

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten BoomCorrie’s mind raced back to their first hour in the barracks. She remembered Betsie bowing her head and thanking God for creatures that Corrie could see no use for.

May our own hearts and lips overflow with gratitude this Thanksgiving season and throughout the year. Even when faced with deeply trying and discouraging circumstances, we can identify numerous blessings that the Lord continues to pour into our lives. Some of those blessings come as a result of the difficulties we’re facing. As we focus on the Lord’s blessings, we will be heartened and enabled to persevere through life’s discouragements. And we’ll never fail to appropriately honor God by thanking Him for His ever-present blessings.

#          #          #

You will find this and many other inspiring incidents from the life of Corrie ten Boom in her own book, The Hiding Place, and in two of my works, Women of Faith and Courage and Timeless Stories.

Copyright 2016 by Vance E. Christie


Nigerian child witnessing church burning

Nigerian child witnessing church burning

When we hear of fellow Christians facing intense persecution and even martyrdom in various parts of the world we sometimes wonder how they can bear up under it. We may contemplate whether or not we would stand strong in our Christian faith if subjected to such horrific treatment. Incidents from the life and ministry of Corrie ten Boom are instructive:

Corrie was once ministering in a small African country where a new government had come to power. Just that week the new regime had begun secretly, systematically putting Christians to death. As the people gathered at the little church where she was to speak that Sunday, fear and tension was written on every face.

Corrie first read to them 1 Peter 4:12-14 (Phillips Translation): “And now, dear friends of mine, I beg you not to be unduly alarmed at the fiery ordeals which come to test your faith, as though this were some abnormal experience. You should be glad, because it means you are called to share Christ’s sufferings. One day, when He shows Himself in full splendor to men, you will be filled with the most tremendous joy. If you are reproached for being Christ’s followers, that is a great privilege, for you can be sure that God’s Spirit of glory is resting upon you.”

Corrie ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom

Closing her Bible, Corrie proceeded to relate a conversation that took place between she and her father when she was a little girl. “Daddy,” she had said one day, “I am afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ.”

“Tell me,” her father wisely responded, “when you take a train trip from Haarlem to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?”

“No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train.”

“That is right,” he replied, “and so it is with God’s strength. Our wise Father in heaven knows when you are going to need things too. Today you do not need the strength to be a martyr. But as soon as you are called upon for the honor of facing death for Jesus, He will supply the strength you need—just in time.”

“I took great comfort in my father’s advice,” Corrie told her audience. “Later I had to suffer for Jesus in a [Nazi] concentration camp. He indeed gave me all the courage and power I needed.”

“Tell us more, Tante Corrie,” one grizzled old member of the congregation spoke up. All were listening intently, seeking to store up truth that would strengthen them for the day of trial.

So she shared an incident that had taken place at Ravensbruck. A group of fellow prisoners had approached her, asking her to tell them some Bible stories. The camp guards called the Bible das Lugenbuch—the book of lies. Death by cruel punishment had been promised for any prisoner who was found possessing a Bible or talking about the Lord. Despite her awareness of those potential consequences, Corrie retrieved her Bible and started teaching from the Scripture.

Suddenly she was aware of a figure behind her. One of the prisoners silently mouthed the words, “Hide your Bible. It’s Lony.”

Corrie knew Lony well. She was among the cruelest of all the women guards. Corrie, however, felt she had to obey God who had so clearly guided her to bring a Bible message to the prisoners that morning. Lony remained motionless behind her as she finished her teaching.

Corrie then said, “Let’s now sing a hymn of praise.” She could see the worried, anxious looks on the faces of the prisoners. Before it had been only her speaking but now they, too, were being asked to join her in singing. But Corrie believed God wanted them to be bold, even in the face of the enemy. So they sang.

Newsweek Cover - The War On Christians

Newsweek Cover – The War On Christians

When the hymn came to an end, Lony instructed, “Another song like that one.” She had enjoyed the singing and wanted to hear more. Heartened, the prisoners sang song after song. Afterwards Corrie even went to Lony and spoke to her about her need for Christ as her Savior.

“Let me tell you what I learned from that experience,” she now told her African audience. “I knew that every word I said could mean death.   Yet never before had I felt such peace and joy in my heart as while I was giving the Bible message in the presence of mine enemy. God gave me the grace and power I needed—the money for the train ticket arrived just the moment I was to step on the train.”

When the meeting came to a close the nationals stood to leave. The fear and anxiety was gone from their faces. Once again joy shown on their countenances and their hearts seemed filled with peace. Softly in the back of the room someone began singing an old gospel song:

There’s a land that is fairer than day,

And by faith we can see it afar.

For the Father waits over the way,

To prepare us a dwelling place there.

In the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore,

In the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore.

Corrie was later told that more than half the Christians who attended that service subsequently met a martyr’s death.

If you know any Christians who are currently facing persecution, perhaps you could encourage them by sharing this story with them. This and a number of other true stories on Christians standing strong in their faith despite strong opposition can be found in the chapter on “Adversity” in my Timeless Stories book.

Copyright 2014 by Vance E. Christie

Coffin with FlowersRecently I attended a funeral where the better part of an hour was spent celebrating the life and earthly accomplishments of an individual who, from a human perspective, was considered a good moral man. (As was stated at the funeral, he was not a religious man.) Near the end of the funeral an evangelical pastor, whose part in the service was to present a eulogy of this man’s life, spent not more than a minute or two briefly outlining the Gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus. The pastor indicated that this individual had professed faith in Christ at the close of his life.

While I appreciated the fact that the pastor squeezed in a brief Gospel witness, I thought it too bad that at least a few more minutes weren’t devoted to explaining the Good News. I’m afraid many of the funeral-goers went home still thinking that the deceased individual had gone to heaven because of his “good life” that we had just spent so much time focusing on.

It’s crucial that we understand ourselves, and that we try to help others realize, that we get to heaven based solely on Christ’s saving cross-work on our behalf, and not at all based on our own good works. An incident from the life of Corrie ten Boom effectively illustrates the point:

Corrie ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom

When Corrie was twenty-one years old, it was discovered that her Aunt Jans had diabetes.  In those days there was no treatment for diabetes, and it was a certain death sentence on a person’s life.

Jans had always been an active Christian, giving public talks, writing tracts and organizing clubs.  When she learned of her diabetes she threw herself into her most recent benevolent project—raising funds to build a recreational center for the many soldiers who loitered on the streets of Haarlem, Holland, during the months leading up to World War 1.  She made numerous personal visits and wrote many letters to prospective donors.

One gray Friday morning in January, 1914, a doctor informed the ten Booms that Jans likely had not more than three weeks to live.  The family members decided to go together to break this news to the beloved aunt.  They ascended the stairs to her bedroom where they found her sitting at a table, penning yet another appeal for funds.  As she looked from one somber face to another she realized what must be the reason for their gathering.

“My dear sister-in-law,” began Corrie’s father, Casper, “there is a joyous journey which each of God’s children sooner or later sets out on.  And, Jans, some must go to their Father empty-handed, but you will run to Him with hands full!”

“All your clubs,” suggested Jans’ sister, Anna.

“Your writings,” added Corrie’s mother.

“The funds you’ve raised,” ventured Corrie’s sister, Betsie.

“Your talks,” Corrie contributed.

Their well-intentioned words, however, failed to have the desired effect.  Aunt Jans covered her face with her hands and began to weep.

“Empty, empty!” she at last choked out through her tears.  “How can we bring anything to God?  What does He care for our little tricks and trinkets?”

Christ on the CrossThen she lowered her hands and, with tears still streaming down her face, whispered, “Dear Jesus, I thank You that we must come with empty hands.  I thank You that You have done all—all—on the Cross, and that all we need in life or death is to be sure of this.”

Copyright 2014 by Vance E. Christie

Corrie Ten Boom

Corrie Ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom is best known through the book and movie The Hiding Place as a Dutch Christian who, along with her family, sheltered Jews from the Nazis in Holland during World War 2. Corrie and her sister, Betsie, were imprisoned in a German concentration camp where Betsie died of illness in December, 1944. At the end of that same month, due to a clerical error, Corrie was released.

After traveling by train to Groningen, just across the border from Germany in Holland, Corrie made her way to a Christian hospital called the Deaconess House. The hospital staff immediately began to tenderly care for her. Of her first experiences there, Corrie later wrote in her book Tramp for the Lord:

“Then I was eating. Potatoes, brussels sprouts, meat and gravy, and for dessert, pudding with currant juice and an apple! … How wonderfully good that food did taste. I shall remember that meal as long as I live.

“Then came a warm bath. They could hardly get me out of it. My poor sick skin, damaged by lice, seemed to grow softer the moment I slipped into that warm tub.

“Afterwards they dressed me. Several of the ex-leaders of the Netherlands Girls’ Clubs were among the nurses—girls that I had known before the war. They dressed me up as if I were a doll. One of them had lingerie, another shoes, another a dress and pins for my hair. I felt so happy that I laughed for sheer joy. How sweet they were to me.

“These young women had been trained in kindness. How opposite from the concentration camp where men had been trained in cruelty.

“I was then taken to a cozy bedroom so I could rest. How lovely was the combination of colors. I was starved for color. In the concentration camp everything was gray. But here in Holland the colors were vivid again. My eyes could not seem to get enough to satisfy them.

“And the bed! Delightfully soft and clean with thick woolen blankets. One of the little nurses brought an extra pillow and tucked it under my swollen feet. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time.

The Hiding Place“On a shelf was a row of books. Outside I heard the whistle of a boat on a canal and the merry sound of little children calling to one another as they skipped down the street. Far in the distance I heard the sound of a choir singing and then, oh, joy, the chimes of a carillon. I closed my eyes and tears wet my pillow. Only to those who have been in prison does freedom have such great meaning.

“Later that afternoon one of the nurses took me up to her room where for the first time in many months I heard the sound of a radio. Gunther Ramin was playing a Bach trio. The organ tones flowed about and enveloped me. I sat on the floor beside a chair and sobbed, unashamedly. It was too much joy. I had rarely cried during all those months of suffering. Now I could not control myself. My life had been given back as a gift. Harmony, beauty, colors, and music. … But right now, [God] was letting me enjoy the luxury of thanksgiving. I was drinking from a fountain I knew would never run dry—the fountain of praise.”

The thing that always strikes me about this incident is that most of the blessings Corrie reveled in on that occasion were simple, everyday blessings. They are the type of commonplace blessings we are so accustomed to we tend to take them for granted.

But they truly are significant blessings that we rightly should continue to be grateful for. As we tune into those ordinary blessings, we too will have the delight of drinking from the never-ending fountain of praise and thanksgiving. And our gracious God will receive a fuller measure of the gratitude and glory that is due Him for the countless blessings He continually showers on our lives.


*          *          *

For other inspiring and instructive true stories from the life of Corrie ten Boom, you may want to check out two of my books, Women of Faith and Courage and Timeless Stories.

Copyright 2013 by Vance E. Christie