Last time I wrote about looking around at the bad things in the world, and having courage; and I mentioned heroes. So today I want to talk about two of my personal heroes, Cornelia and Betsie Ten Boom. I’ve read the book “The Hiding Place” several times. It tells the story of these two women and their father, who hid Jews during the Nazi occupation of Holland. They were betrayed and discovered and both women went to three separate Nazi prisons as a result. Corrie was sick when it happened, because of that she was put in solitary confinement. For months she was alone in a small cell with a little square window. Betsie spent her time telling her cellmates about God, and doing her best to beautify prison life. They were then moved to a concentration camp, happily reunited. There they had to work, and learned who the man who’d betrayed them was. Corrie struggled with feelings of hatred for that man…until Betsie reminded her of God’s forgiveness. Later they were moved to an extermination camp. Even there they still told people about God. About two weeks before Corrie was released, Betsie–who was sickly–died. Corrie was not crushed however, though she was sad, because she knew without a doubt where Betsie was. Finally Corrie was released. Home at last she didn’t return to underground work, but began speaking about what she and Betsie had learned in the camps. She opened homes for Jews, Germans, and fellow Dutchmen.
I learned a lot from this book and I can’t do it justice here, I suggest reading it. The story rings true today, Corrie’s world was overtaken with darkness, hate, cruelty, and fear; but her and her families response was always love and goodness and mercy. Their courage they accredited to God alone. In prison Corrie found God to be her hiding place. The verse “Thou art my hiding place and my shield; I hope in they word…” caught her attention even as a child of six. Later she remembered them in prison.
One very profound thing Corrie was taught by her father was after her first sight of death.
“Corrie,” he began gently, “when you, and I go to Amsterdam–when do I give you your ticket?” I (Corrie) 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.”
Casper Ten Boom’s advice closely resonates to Jesus’ words to His disciples, “But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” Mark 13:11. Corrie saw the “train ticket” in the future times when someone she knew died. It stayed with her. Our own strength is just not enough. Man fears death above almost all else. We cannot face it with only our strength. There’s an old phrase “There are no atheists in foxholes.”
There is also fear of death in another part of the book. Right in the danger zone. Corrie had a dream or vision of their arrest, she told Betsie. Wondering if it was a vision. Betsie answers: “I don’t know, but 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.”
Again, Betsie’s faith aligns with scripture. When Jesus was warning them in Mark, he also said “But take heed; see, I have told all things beforehand.” (Mark 13:23.) “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” (Matthew 24:6.) Jesus also repeatedly says “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:13.)
Betsie’s peace came from knowledge of another thing as well. During a plane fight, with bombs and explosions (as there will be when there are bombs.) Corrie got out of bed and went into the kitchen where Betsie was. Going back to bed she found a the inch piece of jagged metal on her pillow! It pricked her finger. She raced back down the stairs. As Betsie’s bandaged her hand. Corrie exclaimed. “Betsie, if I hadn’t heard you in the kitchen–” Betsie puts a finger on Corrie’s mouth. “Don’t say it Corrie! There are no if’s in God’s world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety– O Corrie, let us pray that we may always know it!”
“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me under the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who oppress me, from my deadly enemies who surround me.” (Psalm 17:8-9.) “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139: 7-10.)
To Betsie, no place was safer than another place. In a thunder storm a tree would be as safe as a house. (I’m not advocating stupidity by the way.) It’s not where we are, but who is watching over us. A child lost in the mall may be in no more danger than one who is home alone. The difference is not the place it’s in whether or not their mom or Dad is with them. It is the same with all of us. A closet, the edge of a cliff, they fell different. But with God there is no difference, He is everywhere. Which is why He says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
That’s all for this article, but watch for part three. There’s more to tell about the Ten Booms.