An Unforgettable Story of Light in the Darkness
Corrie ten Boom and her family helped Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II and, by all accounts, saved nearly 800 lives.
I read a book a while back that stuck with me. It was a book that brought tears to my eyes, a book that I thought about as I laid in bed at night, a book that I will never, ever forget. Those books are rare. When we find one, we need to share it with others!
The book I read was The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. In this book, Corrie records her life experiences. These experiences include hiding Jews during World War 2, enduring concentration camps, and finding ways to share and promote Christ's love through it all.
I felt the book started out rather slow. It discussed Corrie growing up in Holland with her family. The family runs an in-home watch repair business. The slow pace soon picks up, though. The Nazis invade and everything changes. The Ten Booms decide that it is their duty to help the persecuted Jews in the area. They house various Jews in their home, and Corrie even becomes an integral part of an underground system that helps to hide and move Jewish people.
One day the family home gets raided and they are shipped off to a Dutch prison. Corrie and her sister, Betsie, eventually end up in a Dutch concentration camp. They do their best to stay hopeful, but life is difficult and Betsie's health is failing. Due to political circumstances, they soon get shipped to another concentration camp. One of the worst.
In this camp, Corrie and Betsie endure circumstances that are unimaginable and unbearable. The strenuous, back-breaking work, the lack of strength-giving nutrition, the horrid living conditions...all would be unendurable to most, but Betsie and Corrie continue to look to God for strength and guidance through it all. They use hidden Bibles to lead Bible studies for fellow prisoners, despite the danger. They see God's provision in all circumstances. Betsie especially, loved to see the good in all people...even in her unforgiving captors.
Eventually Betsie's health gave out. Corrie was later released from the prison. She returned to Holland and continued to serve people and God for the remainder of her life.
Why is this book so powerful?
So, what is it about this book? What makes this book so powerful...a book that will stick with you far beyond the words on the final page?
It's the book's message.
No. It's more than that. It's the way the book undeniably asserts that message in almost every single chapter.
What is the message? That God is in control. That He is to be praised in all circumstances, and that loving Him and serving others through that love is the greatest purpose we can serve in this life.
I have never read a book where this message is so clearly and undeniably shown. Circumstances that happen in Corrie's life cannot be explained away as coincidence; they happen too frequently.
Here's an example: Betsie and Corrie arrive at an infamously horrible concentration camp. The living quarters are horribly overcrowded and unsanitary, and they end up having to sleep in a back area that not even the guards want to enter. As they head into the overcrowded room, they see that it is infested with fleas. Betsie begins to thank God. She thanks him for various things - that the sisters are together and she even thanks him for the fleas! Corrie thinks she is out of her mind at the time. The sisters end up leading a nightly Bible study in that back room. The guards never come in. The back room becomes a place where other women learn about God and praise Him, and the sisters are never caught. Later, we find out the guards refuse to enter the back room because of the fleas. Betsie's praise was right on the mark.
This is one simple example. The book is filled with these! Circumstances that happen that are clearly and truly God at work. He is at work in even the worst circumstances that a human can endure.
Corrie is not perfect. Her faith does waiver. She does get angry. She does cry out to God. But, I think that makes her all the more believable. She endures the worst that a human can endure, and though she is shaken, her love for God remains intact. She learns to rely on God for all things, and through her story, the reader does too.
I hope you give this book a read. It will strengthen your faith, and its inspiring message will stick with you.
Take good care.