Corrie’s Quotes

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!



Corrie and Betsie ten Boom found themselves at a dreaded concentration camp because of their loving support of Jews:

From the crest of the hill we saw it, like a vast scar on the green German landscape; a city of low gray barracks surrounded by concrete walls on which guard towers rose at intervals.  In the very center, a square smokestack emitted a thin gray vapor into the blue sky.


Like a whispered curse the word passed back through the lines.  This was the notorious women’s extermination camp whose name we had heard even in Haarlem…As Betsie and I stumbled down the hill, I felt the Bible bumping between my shoulder blades.  God’s good news.  Was it to this world that He had spoken it?  — Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place, pg. 201

Miraculously, according to her prayers, Corrie was able to carry the small Bible into the complex with her:

It made a bulge you could have seen across the Grote Markt.  I flattened it out as best I could, pushing it down, tugging the sweater around my waist, but there was no real concealing it beneath the thin cotton dress.  And all the while I had the incredible feeling that it didn’t matter, that this was not my business, but God’s.  That all I had to do was walk straight ahead.

As we trooped back out through the shower room door, the S.S. men ran their hands over every prisoner, front, back, and sides.  The woman ahead of me was searched three times.  Behind me, Betsie was searched.  No hand touched me…And so Betsie and I arrived in Barracks 8 in the small hours of that morning, bringing not only the Bible, but a new knowledge of the power of Him whose story it was.  — Ibid, pg. 205

They would learn more about His power and about His ways of working on our behalf:

The instant of dismissal we would mob the door of Barracks 8, stepping on each others’ heels in our eagerness to get inside, to shrink the world back to understandable proportions.  It grew harder and harder.  Even within these four walls there was too much misery, too much seemingly pointless suffering.  Every day something else failed to make sense, something else grew too heavy.  Will You carry this too, Lord Jesus?

But as the rest of the world grew stranger, one thing became increasingly clear.  And that was the reason the two of us were here.  Why others should suffer we were not shown.  As for us, from morning until lights-out, whenever we were not in ranks for roll call, our Bible was the center of an ever-widening circle of help and hope.  Like waifs clustered around a blazing fire, we gathered about it, holding out our hearts to its warmth and light.  The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the word of God.  “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword?…Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”

I would look about us as Betsie read, watching the light leap from face to face.  More than conquerors…It was not a wish.  It was a fact.  We knew it, we experienced it minute by minute–poor, hated, hungry  We are more than conquerors.  Not “we shall be.”  We are!  Life in Ravensbruck took place on two separate levels, mutually impossible.  One, the observable, external life, grew every day more horrible.  The other, the life we lived with God, grew daily better, truth upon truth, glory upon glory.  — Ibid, pg. 206

Corrie and Betsie had cried out to God, “How can we live in such a place?” and had received an answer:  “Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.  Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:14-18).  Betsie exclaimed:

That’s it, Corrie!  That’s His answer.  “Give thanks in all circumstances!”  That’s what we can do.  We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!”

I stared at her, then around me at the dark, foul-aired room.

“Such as?” I said.

“Such as being assigned here together.”

I bit my lip.  “Oh yes, Lord Jesus!”

“Such as what you’re holding in your hands.”

I looked down at the Bible.  “Yes!  Thank You, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here!  Thank you for all the women, here in this room, who will meet You in these pages.”

“Yes,” said Betsie.  “Thank You for the very crowding here.  Since we’re packed so close, that many more will hear!”  She looked at me expectantly.  “Corrie!” she prodded.

“Oh, all right.  Thank You for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed, suffocating crowds.”

“Thank You,” Betsie went on serenely, “for the fleas and for–”

The fleas!  This was too much.  “Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.”

“Give thanks in all circumstances,” she quoted.  “It doesn’t say, “in pleasant circumstances.”  Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.

And so we stood between piers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas.  But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.  –Ibid, pg. 210

It wasn’t until later that they discovered why it was true that they could thank God even for the fleas:

Betsie was waiting for me, as always, so that we could wait through the food line together.  Her eyes were twinkling.

“You’re looking extraordinarily pleased with yourself,” I told her.

“You know we’ve never understood why we had so much freedom in the big room,” she said.  “Well–I’ve found out.”

That afternoon, she  said, there’d been confusion in her knitting group about sock sizes and they’d asked the supervisor to come and settle it.

“But she wouldn’t.  She wouldn’t step through the door and neither would the guards.  And you know why?”

Betsie could not keep the triumph fro her voice:  “Because of the fleas!  That’s what she said, ‘That place is crawling with fleas!’

My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place.  I remembered Betsie’s bowed head, remembered her thanks to God for a creature I could see no use for.  –Ibid, pg. 220

Betsie kept talking about what they would do when they were released, which she insisted would be by the first of the year.  They would have a house where people who had been hurt by concentration camps would come for healing and transition until they could return to normal life.

It’s such a beautiful house, Corrie!  The floors are all inlaid wood, with statues set in the walls and a broad staircase sweeping down.  And gardens!  Gardens all around it where they can plant flowers.  It will do them such good, Corrie, to care for flowers!  — Ibid, pg. 223

In the final hours before her death from sickness, cold and hunger, Betsie also described a healing place for Germans, for the very guards that had harmed them:

“A camp, Corrie–a concentration camp.  But we’re…in charge…”  I had to bend very close to hear.  The camp was in Germany.  It was no longer a prison, but a home where people who had been warped by this philosophy of hate and force could come to learn another way.  There were no walls, no barbed wire, and the barracks had windowboxes.  “It will be so good for them…watching things grow.  People can learn to love, from flowers…”  I knew by now which people she meant.  The German people…

“The barracks are gray, Corrie, but we’ll paint them green!  Bright, light green, like springtime.”  — Ibid, pg. 226-227

Only God can cause a person to love an enemy in this way.  Betsie knew her Lord, and He was the one that gave her such love.  This was a great encouragement and example for Corrie, who survived the holocaust and administered the very facilities that Betsie had envisioned.  Betsie passed away December 16, 1944, at Ravensbruck, and Corrie was released a week later, due to a clerical error; both had been “released” before the New Year.  All women Corrie’s age were supposed to have been sent to the gas chambers, to make room for arriving prisoners.  But God had other plans for her.

There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still.  — Betsie ten Boom



I’ve been detailing the life of Corrie ten Boom.  The family was taken to prison when the Nazis discovered they had hundreds of ration cards.  After  all, over 800 people had come through this home to escape the holocaust. However, the good news was that the Gestapo did not find their hidden room with six people in hiding.

Prison was brutal for the family.  Corrie’s father died only ten days later.  He’d been offered freedom if he would stop helping Jews, but refused it:

Suddenly the chief interrogator’s eye fell on Father.  “That old man!”  he cried.  “Did he have to be arrested?  You, old man!”

Willem led Father up to the desk.  The Gestapo chief leaned forward.  “I’d like to send you home, old fellow,” he said.  “I’ll take your word that you won’t cause any more trouble.”

I could not see Father’s face, only the erect carriage of his shoulders and the halo of white hair above them.  But I heard his answer.

“If I go home today,” he said evenly and clearly, “tomorrow I will open my door again to any man in need who knocks.”

The amiability drained from the other man’s face.  “Get back in line!” he shouted.  “Schnell!  This court will tolerate no more delays!”

But delays seemed all that this court existed for.  As we inched along the counter, there were endless repetitions of questions, endless consulting of papers, endless coming and going of officials.  Outside the windows the short winter day was fading.  We had not eaten since the rolls and water at dawn.  — Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place, pg. 151-152

Her family was comforted by the fact that Father was safely in the arms of God, and were thankful he didn’t have to suffer any longer in prison.  In addition, he had actually prepared his daughters for this moment:

Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed.  “Corrie,” he began gently, “when you and I go to Amsterdam–when do I give you your ticket?”

I 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.”  — Ibid, pg. 44

In God’s grace, Casper’s death allowed the family to be reunited in the prison.

Betsie was thin and prison-pale.  But it was Willem who shocked me.  His face was gaunt, yellow, and pain-haunted…As for Father, [we] had learned a few more facts about his last days.  He had apparently become ill in his cell and had been taken by car to the municipal hospital in The Hague.  There, no bed had been available.  Father had died in a corridor, separated somehow from his records or any clue as to his identity.  Hospital authorities had buried the unknown old man in the paupers’ cemetery.

The time of mourning and gathering for the family also allowed Nollie to smuggle in a small bible to Corrie:

Swiftly I opened the package that Nollie had pressed into my hand with the first embrace.  It was what my leaping heart had told me:  a Bible, the entire Book in a compact volume, tucked inside a small pouch with a string for wearing around the neck as we had once carried our identity cards.  I dropped it quickly over my head and down my back beneath my blouse.  I couldn’t even find words with which to thank her:  the day before, in the shower line, I had given away my last remaining Gospel.  — Ibid, pg. 178-179

That Bible would be life for the sisters, Corrie and Betsie, for prison life was only about to become much worse than anything they could imagine, as they were soon transported deep into Germany itself.

Here are some of the items in the museum that was once their beloved home.  A Rabbi once brought some valuable books to Casper ten Boom for safe-keeping; I don’t know if this is one of them, or perhaps the family Bible, but it did survive the holocaust.  Corrie spoke of books in their home in the final years before the raid:

The books belonged to the rabbi of Haarlem.  He had brought them to Father more than a year before:  “Just in case I should not be able to care for them–ah–indefinitely.”  He had waved a bit apologetically at the procession of small boys behind him, each staggering under the weight of several huge volumes.  “My little hobby.  Book collecting.  And yet, old friend, books do not age as you and I do.  They will speak still when we are gone, to generations we will never see.  Yes, the books must survive.”  — Ibid, pg. 89-90



Gestapo Raid

The raid on Casper ten Boom’s house occurred on the morning of February 28, 1944.  Corrie had been sick in bed for two days.  It all happened pretty quickly, as she described in her book, The Hiding Place.

In my fevered dream a buzzer kept ringing.  On and on it went. Why wouldn’t it stop? Feet were running, voices whispering.  “Hurry!  Hurry!”

I sat bolt upright.  People were running past my bed.  I turned just in time to see Thea’s heels disappear through the low door.  Meta was behind her, then Henk.  But–I hadn’t planned for a drill for today!  Who in the world–unless–unless it wasn’t a drill.  Eusie dashed past me, white-faced, his pipe rattling in the ashtray that he carried in shaking hands.  And at last it penetrated my numbed brain that the emergency had come.  One, two, three people already in the secret room; four as Eusie’s black shoes and scarlet socks disappeared.  But Mary–where was Mary?  The old woman appeared in the bedroom door, mouth open, gasping for air.  I sprang from my bed and half-pulled, half-shoved her across the room.

I was sliding the secret panel down behind her when a slim white-haired man burst into the room.  I recognized him from Pickwick’s, someone high in the national Resistance.  I’d had no idea he was in the house.  He dived after Mary…The man’s legs vanished and I dropped the panel down and leapt back into bed.  Below I heard doors slamming, heavy footsteps on the stairs.  But it was another sound that turned my blood to water:  the strangling, grating rasp of Mary’s breathing.  “Lord Jesus!” I prayed.  “You have the power to heal!  Heal Mary now!”

And then my eye fell on the briefcase, stuffed with names and addresses.  I snatched it up, yanked up the sliding door again, flung the case inside, shoved the door down, and pushed my prison bag up against it.  I had just reached the bed again when the bedroom door flew open.

“What’s your name?”  I sat up slowly and–I hoped–sleepily.  “What?”  “Your name!”  “Cornelia ten Boom.”  [she ended up leaving the bag she’d prepared in case she was ever taken to prison, because removing it from its place would’ve called attention to the sliding door]

The man behind me gave me a little push and I hurried on down the stairs to the dining room.  Father, Betsie, and Toos were sitting on chairs pulled back against the wall.  Beside them sat three underground workers who must have arrived since I had gone upstairs.  — The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom, pg. 141-143

The interrogation in their dining room was rough.  They asked where they were hiding the Jews and where they were hiding ration cards.  They struck her hard across the face, many times, until she was losing consciousness and cried out, “Lord Jesus, protect me!”  He said to her, “If you say that name again I’ll kill you!”

They were eventually arrested when the Gestapo around the hidden ration cards.  However, they never found the Hiding Place.  Corrie shared a sad moment that happened when they were ordered out of their home:

Father took his tall hat from the wall peg.  Outside the dining room door, he paused to pull up the weights on the old Frisian clock.  “We mustn’t let the clock run down,” he said.  Corrie thought, “Father!  Did you really think we would be back home when next the chain ran out?”  — Ibid, pg. 147

They were marched through the alley and along the street to the police station.  People from previous arrests were sitting or lying about in the holding room.  35 people had been arrested in connection with the Ten Boom’s secret activities.  But there many other people, as well, being held in a gymnasium.

…a group had gathered around Father for evening prayers.  Every day of my life had ended like this:  that deep steady voice, that sure and eager confiding of all of us to the care of God.  The Bible lay at home on its shelf, but much of it was stored in his heart.  His blue eyes seemed to be seeing beyond the locked and crowded room, beyond Haarlem, beyond earth itself, as he quoted from memory:  “Thou art my hiding place and my shield:  I hope in thy word…Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe…”  — Ibid, pg. 149

Then later, she explained:

In the Smedestraat a wall of people pressed against police barricades set across the street.  As Betsie and I stepped out with Father between us, a murmur of horror greeted the sight of “Harrlem’s Grand Old Man” being led to prison.  In the front of the door stood a green city bus with soldiers occupying the rear seats.  People were climbing aboard while friends and relatives in the crowd wept or simply stared.  Betsie and I gripped Father’s arms to start down the steps…[we] squeezed into a double seat near the front…The bus shuddered and started up.  Police cleared a path and we inched forward.  I gazed hungrily out the window, holding onto Haarlem with my eyes.  Now we were crossing the Grote Markt, the walls of the great cathedral glowing a thousand shades of gray in the crystal light.  In a strange way it seemed to me that I had lived through this moment before.  Then I recalled.  The vision.  The night of the invasion.  I had seen it all.  Willem, Nollie, Pickwick, Peter–all of us here–drawn against our wills across this square.  It had all been in the dream–all of us leaving Haarlem, unable to turn back.  Going where?  — Ibid, pg. 149-150

A few days later, in prison, Corrie received a letter from Nollie, who had been released, and happened to notice that the address was written in a way that slanted up towards the stamp.  Removing the stamp, she saw a wonderful message:

All the watches in your closet are safe (“watch” was the secret password for their Jews in hiding).  Safe.  Then–then Eusie, and Henk, and Mary, and–they’d gotten out of the secret room!  They’d escaped!  They were free!  I burst into racking sobs…  — Ibid, pg. 168

As it turned out, the hidden Jews had spent 2 1/2 days in the hiding place with only a few crackers and no water or light.  They didn’t know whether it was safe to come out or not (it wasn’t, for the Gestapo were picking up more workers in the days following the raid). Finally, when the Gestapo left, some local police who were sympathetic with the cause came to release the six, where they quietly slipped out into the dark, looking for another place to hide.  All escaped to safety except Mary.

The Hiding Place

The hidden room that “Mr. Smit” built into Casper ten Boom’s house in Haarlem was in Corrie’s bedroom, the highest one in the house.  It seemed that all the underground workers were known as “Mr Smit!”  Corrie described their work in this way:

Over the next few days he and his workmen were in and out of our house constantly.  They never knocked.  At each visit each man carried in something.  Tools in a folded newspaper.  A few bricks in a briefcase…After the wall was up, the plasterer came, then the carpenter, finally the painter.  Six days after he had begun, Mr. Smit called Father, Betsie, and me to see.  We stood in the doorway and gaped.  The smell of fresh paint was everywhere.  But surely nothing in this room was newly painted!  All four walls had that streaked and grimy look that old rooms got in coal-burning Haarlem.  The ancient molding ran unbroken around the ceiling, chipped and peeling here and there, obviously undisturbed for a hundred and fifty years.  Old water stains streaked the back wall, a wall that even I who had lived half a century in this room, could scarcely believe was not the original, but set back a precious two-and-a-half feet from the true wall of the building.  Built-in bookshelves ran along this false wall, old, sagging shelves whose blistered wood bore the same water stains as the wall behind them.  Down in the far lefthand corner, beneath the bottom shelf, a sliding panel, two feet high and two wide, opened into the secret room.  Mr. Smit stooped and silently pulled this panel up.  On hands and knees Betsie and I crawled into the narrow room behind it.  Once inside we could stand up, sit, or even stretch out one at a time on the single mattress.  A concealed vent, cunningly let into the real wall, allowed air to enter from outside.  — Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place, pg. 103

As you can see in the photos below, the hiding place now has a big hole cut out of the wall, so that visitors can see into the hidden space without having to crawl through the 2′ x 2′ space.  But some still choose to crawl though the original opening.  We did.

A photo on the wall showed an original drill with two Jewish women in 1943.

Once inside, there was room for 6-7 people to stand.

It was really an honor to stand in this very space and reflect on all that had occurred here, such as the quotes from Corrie below.

[Mr.] Leendert did the electrical work that weekend.  He installed a buzzer near the top of the stairs–loud enough to be heard all over the house but not outside.  Then he placed buttons to sound the buzzer at every vantage point where trouble might first be spotted…We were ready for our first trial run…the purpose of the drills was to see how rapidly people could reach the room at any hour of the day or night without prior notice.  A tall sallow-faced young man arrived from Pickwick one morning to teach me how to conduct the drills.  “Smit!”  Father exclaimed when the man introduced himself.  “Truly it’s most astonishing!  We’ve had one Smit after another here lately…”  [Mr. Smit] paused in a bedroom door.  “If the raid comes at night they must not only take their sheets and blankets but get the mattress turned.  That’s the S.D’s favorite trick–feeling for a warm spot on a bed…”  There were eleven of us at the table that day, including a Jewish lady who had arrived the night before and a Gentile woman and her small daughter, members of our underground…Mr. Smit leaned back in his chair and pushed the button below the window….People sprang to their feet, snatching up glasses and plates, scrambling for the stairs…Cries of “Faster!” “Not so loud!” and “You’re spilling it!” reached us as Father, Betsie, and I hastily rearranged table and chairs to look like a lunch for three in progress…At last we were seated again and silence reigned upstairs.  The whole process had taken four minutes.  A little later we were all gathered again around the dining room table.  Mr. Smit set out before him the incriminating evidence he had found:  two spoons and a piece of carrot on the stairs, pipe ashes in an “unoccupied” bedroom…The next night I sounded the alarm again and this time we shaved a minute thirty-three seconds off our run.  By our fifth trial we were down to two minutes.  –Ibid, pg. 120-122


While in Amsterdam in 2015 Chris and I were eager to see Corrie ten Boom’s world in Haarlem.  It was a short train ride and we took our rented bikes with us.  It truly was amazing day, seeing this area and reliving the emotions I felt went I first read her book, The Hiding Place, years ago.  Her family helped many Jewish and Dutch underground people escape from the holocaust through an elaborate system of messengers, a hidden space, alarms and underground support for ration cards, relay stations and other supplies.  It’s truly remarkable.  Corrie often said, “You can’t love Jesus without loving the Jewish people.”

Here are some of the photos we took on our bike ride to the ten Boom watch shop.

This bakery was fantastic!  We stopped here after spending the morning at the ten Boom house.

This is the Grote Markt, which is very close to the ten Boom house and watch shop.

While Holland was being invaded by the Nazis, Corrie had a dream that was, sadly, fulfilled in real life later.  This is how she described the moment, which happened with her sister, Betsie, nearby:

Betsie began to pray for the Germans, up there in the planes, caught in the fist of the giant evil loose in Germany.  I looked at my sister kneeling beside me in the light of burning Holland.  “Oh Lord,” I whispered, “listen to Betsie, not me, because I cannot pray for those men at all.”

And it was then that I had the dream.  It couldn’t have been a real dream because I was not asleep.  But a scene was suddenly and unreasonably in my mind.  I saw the Grote Markt, half a block away, as clearly as though I were standing there, saw the town hall and St. Bavo’s and the fish mart with its stair-stepped facade.

Then as I watched, a kind of odd, old farm wagon–old fashioned and out of place in the middle of a city–came lumbering across the square pulled by four enormous black horses.  To my surprise I saw that I myself was sitting in the wagon.  And Father too!  And Betsie!  There were may others, some strangers, some friends.  I recognized Pickwick and Toos, Willem and young Peter.  All together we were slowly being drawn across the square behind those horses.  We couldn’t get off the wagon, that was the terrible thing.  It was taking us away–far away, I felt–but we didn’t want to go…

“Betsie!” I cried, jumping up, pressing my hands to my eyes.  “Betsie, I’ve had such an awful dream!”

I felt her arm around my shoulder.  “We’ll go down to the kitchen where the light won’t show, and we’ll make a pot of coffee.”

The booming of the bombs was less frequent and farther away as Betsie put on the water.  Closer by was the wail of fire alarms and the beep of the hose trucks.  Over coffee, standing at the stove, I told Betsie what I had seen.

“Am I imagining things because I’m frightened?  But it wasn’t like that!  It was real.  Oh Betsie, was it a kind of vision?”

Betsie’s finger traced a pattern on the wooden sink worn smooth by generations of us ten Booms.  “I don’t know,” she said softly.  “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.”  –Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place, pg. 79-80


This week I’m sharing quotes from Anne Frank’s diary. Most people are familiar with the struggles she faced with the other inhabitants of the secret annex, so I will focus, instead, on other thoughts from her diary. Today we’ll see what she thought about the outside world.

Father, Mother and Margot still can’t get used to the chiming of the Westertoren clock, which tells us the time very quarter of an hour. Not me, I liked it from the start; it sounds so reassuring, especially at night. –July 11, 1942

Mr. Dussel has told us much about the outside world we’ve missed for so long. He had sad news. Countless friends and acquaintances have been taken off to a dreadful fate. Night after night, green and gray military vehicles cruise the streets. They knock on every door, asking whether any Jews live there. If so, the whole family is immediately taken away. If not, they proceed to the next house. It’s impossible to escape their clutches unless you go into hiding…In the evenings when it’s dark, I often see long lines of good, innocent people, accompanied by crying children, walking on and on, ordered about by a handful of men who bully and beat them until they nearly drop. No one is spared. The sick, the elderly, children, babies and pregnant women–all are marched to their death. We’re so fortunate here, away from the turmoil. We wouldn’t have to give a moment’s thought to all this suffering if it weren’t for the fact that we’re so worried about those we hold dear, whom we can no longer help. I feel wicked sleeping in a warm bed, while somewhere out there my dearest friends are dropping from exhaustion or being knocked to the ground. –November 19, 1942

The children in this neighborhood run around in thin shirts and wooden shoes. They have no coats, no socks, no caps and no one to help them. Gnawing on a carrot to still their hunger pangs, they walk from their cold houses through cold streets to an even colder classroom. Things have gotten so bad in Holland that hordes of children stop passersby in the streets to beg for a piece of bread. I could spend hours telling you about the suffering the war has brought, but I’d only make myself more miserable. All we can do is wait, as calmly as possible, for it to end. Jews and Christians alike are waiting, the whole world is waiting and many are waiting for death. –January 13, 1943

We’ve all been a little confused this past week because our dearly beloved Westertoren bells have been carted off to be melted down for the war, so we have no idea of the exact time, either night or day. I still have hopes that they’ll come up with a substitute, made of tin or copper or some such thing, to remind the neighborhood of the clock. –August 10, 1943

[Note: On the Anne Frank website, there’s an interesting photo of the bells being taken out by barge on the canal  click here.]

Going underground or into hiding has become as routine as the proverbial pipe and slippers that used to await the man of the house after a long day at work. There are many resistance groups, such as Free Netherlands, that forge identity cards, provide financial support to those in hiding, organize hiding places and find work for young Christians who go underground. It’s amazing how much these generous and unselfish people do, risking their own lives to help and save ours.

The best example of this is our own helpers, who have managed to pull us through so far and will hopefully bring us safely to shore, because otherwise they’ll find themselves sharing the fate of those they’re trying to protect. Never have they uttered a single word about the burden we must be, never have they complained that we’re too much trouble. They come upstairs every day and talk to the men about business and politics, to the women about food and wartime difficulties and to the children about books and newspapers. They put on their most cheerful expressions, always ready to do what they can. That’s something we should never forget; while others display their heroism in battle or against the Germans, our helpers prove theirs every day by their good spirits and affection. –January 28, 1944

A huge commotion in the Annex! Is this really the beginning of the long-awaited liberation? The liberation we’ve all talked so much about, which still seems too good, too much of a fairy tale ever to come true! Will this year, 1944, bring us victory? We don’t know yet. But where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again. We’ll need to be brave to endure the many fears and hardships and the suffering yet to come. It’s now a matter of remaining calm and steadfast, of gritting our teeth and keeping a stiff upper lip! France, Russia, Italy, and even Germany, can cry out in agony, but we don’t yet have that right! Oh, Kitty, the best part about the invasion is that I have the feeling that friends are on the way. Those terrible Germans have oppressed and threatened us for so long that the thought of friends and salvation means everything to us! Now it’s not just the Jews, but Holland and all of occupied Europe. Maybe, Margot says, I can even go back to school in September or October. –June 6, 1944

Is it because I haven’t been outdoors for so long that I’ve become so smitten with nature? I remember a time when a magnificent blue sky, chirping birds, moonlight and budding blossoms wouldn’t have captivated me. Things have changed since I came here. One night during the Pentecost holiday, for instance, when it was so hot, I struggled to keep my eyes open until eleven-thirty so I could get a good look at the moon, all on my own for once. Alas, my sacrifice was in vain, since there was too much glare and I couldn’t risk opening a window. Another time, several months ago, I happened to be upstairs one night when the window was open. I didn’t go back down until it had to be closed again. The dark, rainy evening, the wind, the racing clouds, had me spellbound; it was the first time in a year and a half that I’d seen the night face-t0-face. After that evening my longing to see it again was even greater than my fear of burglars, a dark rat-infested house or police raids. I went downstairs all by myself and looked out the windows in the kitchen and private office. Many people think nature is beautiful, many people sleep from time to time under the starry sky, and many people in hospitals and prisons long for the day when they’ll be free to enjoy what nature has to offer. But few are as isolated and cut off as we are from the joys of nature, which can be shared by rich and poor alike. It’s not just my imagination–looking at the sky, the clouds, the moon and the stars really does make me feel calm and hopeful. It’s much better medicine than valerian or bromide. Nature makes me feel humble and ready to face every blow with courage! As luck would have it, I’m only able–except for a few rare occasions–to view nature through dusty curtains tacked over dirt-caked windows; it takes the pleasure out of looking. Nature is the one thing for which there is no substitute! –June 13, 1944

How do these thoughts from a young girl affect you today?  How will it cause you to think about life differently?  If you had lived in Amsterdam at the time of this diary, what part would you have played?  I don’t think I would’ve been brave enough to be a part of the resistance, but surely we would’ve sheltered friends in need, especially if asked, and if God was leading that way in scripture.  I guess that would’ve been the bottom line for me–what was God saying to me?  I would want to follow His lead without fear.  But would I, in dangerous circumstances like this?  It’s something to think about.