Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Corrie Ten Boom: Keeper of the Angels Den

We recently read  together as part of our family worship time a biography of Corrie ten Boom, a brave Christian woman who helped hide Jews in Holland during WWII, and this particular biography, while ultimately a wonderful ending, illustrates the very dark turn of events that took place in the life of Corrie ten Boom during the Nazi occupation of Holland during this timeframe, and her eventual experience as a German captive as a result of helping to hide Jews in “the angels Den”, a hidden room within her home. The biography starts out with some of the more cheerful details of Corrie's earlier family life and then slowly unfolds into the details of the war spreading its way across the peaceful holland countryside and the gradual transformation of life for the Dutch, particularly the Jews of Holland who were more and more villified by the Nazis. Corrie, her father and siblings agree to work as part of the resistance and in addition to helping procure food rations for those starving they also find the means to build a hiding place in their home for persecuted Jews. Eventually the gestapo find out about this, and what follows are a series of dark chapters describing the inhuman prison conditions that would eventually take the life of Corrie's father and older sister. Corrie survives, is eventually released and returns to Holland, where she devotes the remainder of her life helping those devastated by the Nazi occupation. She also wrote her memoirs in the classic “the Hiding Place” and also traveled extensively, speaking and lecturing, while giving away most of her money to help those in need.

An excellent, albeit darker, entry in the Janey and Geoff Benge series of the heroes of the christian faith, and one that spurned a lot of discussion following the reading, particularly on the them of gratitude and really appreciating what you have. Don't like dinner tonight? Imagine eating black toast and a cup of watery coffee and that's all you get. Not enough pillows? Imaging a straw mat covered with lice, etc. One recurring statement from the book was from Betsie's older sister, during the hardship of imprisonment, when she said that “We must tell them there is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper.” From a concentration camp stronger words could not be spoken.

Another passage that stuck with me (that a previous reader of this book marked with a star) were the words of Casper ten boom, in reference to the demands of the Gestapo not to shelter Jews and the concern of his family, “Never forget”, he said, his blue eyes shining, “What a privileged family we are.” In light of so many forms of persecution that afflict the church of Christ today, these words ring with so much importance to all of us.

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