I have been sharing stories from Corrie ten Boom, and today I want to share some final quotes from Corrie. What an amazing woman; humble and unpretentious; always admitting her faults, loving others, even enemies; and trusting God in the darkest of situations. I’m truly thankful for her life and witness.
Have you read my book A Prisoner and Yet...” In it you can see that Jesus’ light is stronger than the deepest darkness. Only those who have had the experience of being in a concentration camp can know how deep that darkness really is. No matter how deep down into darkness one goes, deeper still are the everlasting arms. — Corrie ten Boom, Not Good if Detached, pg. 119
God gave me a concentration camp. It was in Darmstadt, where shortly after the War I found several of my former guards. They were then prisoners; I was free. They had been very cruel. How their experiences during the War had demoralized them. Young women still, now imprisoned behind barbed wire; but more imprisoned by demoniacal powers. I could speak to them of Jesus’ victory, His love for sinners and His finished work on the Cross when He carried the sins of the whole world, theirs included.
When I returned to the camp it was empty. The women had been freed or sent to other prisons The same week I rented the whole camp, and now it is a place where refugees can stay while they build houses in the neighborhood…What a change bright-green paint and flowers, many flowers, can make to a place! … Human love has failed in this world, but the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us (Romans 5:5). It is this love that overcomes, and is able to change even a colorless prison camp into a garden of flowers. –Ibid, pg. 25-26
A widow of the suburb of Blemendaal provided an estate to Corrie, to be used as a place of healing for victims of the holocaust. Not surprisingly, it looked exactly as Betsie had envisioned it, right down to the inlaid wood floors and statues.
Round the final bend, we saw it, a fifty-six room mansion in the center of a vast lawn. Two elderly gardeners were poking about the flowerbeds…[there were] inlaid wood floors inside, and a grand gallery around a central hall, and–and bas-relief statues, set along the walls…
“We’ve let the gardens go,” Mrs. Bierens de Haan said. “But I thought we might put them back in shape. Don’t you think released prisoners might find therapy in growing things?” — Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place, pg. 245
This is exactly what Betsie had seen.
In June the first of many hundreds of people arrived at the beautiful home in Bloemendaal. Silent or endlessly relating their losses, withdrawn or fiercely aggressive, every one was a damaged human being. Not all had been in concentration camps; some had spent two, three, even four years hidden in attic rooms and back closets here in Holland…The home in Bloemendaal served ex-prisoners and other war victims exclusively until 1950, when it also began to receive people in need of care from the population at large. It is still in operation today, in its own new building with patients from many parts of Europe. Since 1967 it has been governed by the Dutch Reformed Church. — Ibid, pg. 245
Corrie shared one story that was particularly meaningful to me:
It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there–the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.
He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,” he said. “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!”
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.
I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give Your forgiveness.
As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand, a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself. — Ibid, pg. 247-248
Finally, Corrie used an embroidered crown to express an important truth, and that piece of embroidery is in the family home for all to see today. This story is told by Corrie’s traveling companion and biographer, Elizabeth Sherrill:
I remember the time thirteen-year-old Liz and I were helping Corrie unpack. From the bottom of the suitcase, Liz lifted a folded cloth with some very amateur-looking needlework on it–uneven stitches, mismatched colors, loose threads, snarls.
“What are you making?” Liz asked, bewildered.
“Oh, that’s not mine, Corrie said. “That’s the work of the greatest weaver of all.”
Liz looked dubiously at the tangled mess.
“But Liz,” Corrie told her, “you’re looking at the wrong side!” She took the sorry thing from Liz’s hand. “This is what our lives look like, from our limited viewpoint.”
Then, with a flourish, Corrie shook open the cloth and turned it around to display a magnificent crown embroidered in red, purple, and gold. “But when we turn over the threads of our lives to God, this is what He sees!” — Ibid, pg. 250-251
Corrie passed away on her ninety-first birthday–April 15, 1983. It is a traditional Jewish belief that maintains that only specially blessed people are granted the privilege of dying on their birthday. That would be Corrie!
Make sure you check out this website, to see more photos and stories about Corrie; you can also go on a virtual tour of the house that is outstanding and well worth the time it takes. Blessings as you hear about this amazing believer!