An Extraordinary Light: Corrie ten Boom

As believers we are challenged to be the light of God in a dark world. The Word specifically says in Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (KJV). Recently, I studied the life of one of our more modern shining beacons, Corrie ten Boom. Her testimony has significantly impacted my life and I’d like to share with you some of the story of this extraordinary light.

The ten Boom family lived by faith and by the Word of God. Their house was a home to those in need of hope, comfort, and love. Corrie and her family fostered many children along the way and always saw them through God’s eyes. For twenty years, she also coordinated church services for mentally disabled children.

Corrie ten Boom is most widely known for being part of a devout Christian family who was imprisoned after they housed, helped, and hid many Jews from the Nazis during World War II. The film, The Hiding Place, is based on the popular book about her family’s experiences during this time. The ten Booms considered it an honor to house God’s chosen people; they were more than willing to risk their lives for their fellow man. In February 1944, an informant betrayed the ten Booms and led the Gestapo to their house. The entire family was imprisoned. Corrie and her beloved sister, Betsie, were sent from Scheveningen to Herzogenbusch, a political concentration camp, and finally to Ravensbruck, a work concentration camp.

While Corrie and Betsie were in Ravensbruck, they encountered an atmosphere so dark we can’t even begin to imagine; yet they continued to trust in the Lord. The sisters would cry out to God to give them His strength. By a miracle of God, Corrie was able to hide a Bible under her clothes as she entered Barracks 28, where these women were forced to live in unbearable conditions. It was so bad that even Corrie faced her breaking point while on her flea-infested mattress, crying out to her sister that she could no longer endure the conditions. Betsie then reminded her of His light that she was allowed to bring into that barrack.

His Word, the Bible, was not only a source of strength for Corrie and her sister, but was used twice a day in studies to encourage women (whether they knew of God or not) and to lift the darkness from that atmosphere. Corrie and Betsie relentlessly read Scripture to women so beaten and broken that it became their only lifeline. It was known in those barracks that if anyone had a Bible in the camp they would immediately be killed. Betsie and Corrie soon found out that the only reason the guards left them alone and did not break up the Bible studies was because they knew Barracks 28 was infested with fleas. Even the fleas had purpose! As time went on, Betsie became very ill. On one of her last days she told Corrie, who was beside herself with grief, “There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”1

Following the death of her sister, Corrie continued to share with the prisoners the message of who God really was and how big His love was toward them. One of Corrie’s favorite quotes was, “His light is stronger than the deepest darkness.”2 On December 28, 1944 Corrie was released from Ravensbruck due to a clerical error. Soon after her release, all the women in her camp were killed. Corrie left Ravensbruck with the revelation that she shared all the days of her life: “God does not have problems—only plans.”3

After the war, Corrie returned to the Netherlands. She established a rehabilitation center for concentration camp survivors and those who had worked for the Germans during the occupation. Not only did she spread His light everywhere she went, but she was a living example of what only God could do and what His forgiveness means for us. During her work, Corrie came across one of the cruelest guards from Ravensbruck. He told her that he had found Jesus and had been forgiven, but he needed to ask for her forgiveness for what he had done. Corrie knew that she couldn’t forgive him, but with God she could. She said she “had never known God’s love so intensely as she did in that moment.”4

The next thirty-three years of Corrie’s life were spent ministering and speaking in over sixty countries. She became an author and well-known public speaker. She achieved many accomplishments in this world, including being knighted by the Queen of the Netherlands. I believe Corrie’s greatest fulfillment was in knowing our great Lord and Savior. God blessed the world with the gift of Corrie ten Boom on April 15, 1892 and He took her home to live eternally with Him ninety-one years later on April 15, 1983.

My prayer for all who read this story is that the true essence of who Corrie was would leave a life-changing imprint on your hearts and lives. May we all allow His unstoppable light to illuminate through us to those in our spheres of influence; may our heavenly Father be glorified by the representation of His light through us; may our eyes be enlightened to see where to shine; and may we be extraordinary lights in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Footnotes & References:

1Goodreads, Inc. (2014). Corrie ten Boom Quotes (Author of The Hiding Place). Retrieved from http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/102203.Corrie_ten_Boom.
2Truth, Faith, Grace. (2011, September 11). One Way Door with Corrie ten Boom (1/3) [Video file]. Retrieved from http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gL0fzefUn1Y#.
3,4 Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2014, August 27). Casper ten Boom—Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casper_ten_Boom.
The Biography.com Website. (2014). Cornelia Arnolda Johanna ten Boom. Retrieved from http://www.biography.com/people/corrie-ten-boom-21358155.
Bill C. (2008, April 74). Corrie ten Boom Interview 1974 [Video file]. Retrieved from http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=038cuYe3Nis.
Consuming Fire Revival Channel. (2010, June 5). Corrie ten Boom – Talking about prayer, forgiveness and things to come [Video file]. Retrieved from http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dl181EUC-2k.
Corrie ten Boom House Foundation, E. Smith. (n.d.). History. Retrieved from http://www.corrietenboom.com/history.htm.
Truth, Faith, Grace. (2011, September 11). One Way Door with Corrie ten Boom (2/3) [Video file]. Retrieved from http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Wo00KyS1KsM#/watch?v=oajy3S9_txU.
Truth, Faith, Grace. (2011, September 11). One Way Door with Corrie ten Boom (3/3) [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oajy3S9_txU.

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