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The Secret Room: The Story of Corrie Ten Boom by David Wallington

July 20, 2015

CorrieThis is a useful book to read before pupils watch the film of her book ‘The Hiding Place’. It tells how Hitler came to power in Germany and about belief in the “Aryan” race.

I enjoyed the various codes that people had when seeking hiding places for Jews but, on the surface, talking about a watch that needed mending, e.g. We have a woman’s watch here that needs repairing, but I can’t find a mainspring. Do you know who might have one?

This would actually mean:

We have a Jewish woman in need of a hiding place, and we can’t find one among our regular contacts. Do you know anyone?
Also the elaborate system of buzzers.

It is estimated they were able to save the lives of 800 Jews, in addition to protecting underground workers.

On Feb. 28, 1944, they were betrayed and Corrie and several relatives were arrested. The four Jews and two underground workers in the house at the time of the arrest were not located by the Nazis and were extricated by the underground 47 hours after they fled to the tiny hiding place (located in Corrie’s room).

The ten Boom family members were separated and transferred to concentration camps. Corrie was allowed to stay with her precious sister, Betsy. Corrie’s father (Casper), her sister (Betsy) and one grandchild (Kik) perished. Corrie was released in December of 1944.

At Ravensbruck, the guards not stop the women reading their Bible in the barrack-room because it was infested.

She referred to the story in the Bible of the widow and the jar of oil to explain why Corrie’s vitamin bottle lasted so long.

It was not until 1959 that Corrie discovered that her release was due to a clerical error. Just one week later, all the women her age had been killed.

corrie2She wrote:

(when she was young and she and her mother went to visit a young mother whose baby had died.) That night at home when her father came to tuck her in she cried’ I need you!…You can’t die! You can’t ”
“Beside me on the bed Nollie sat ups ” We went to see Mrs. Hoog ,” she explained. ” Corrie didn’t eat her supper or anything .”
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 are 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.”

“There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still”

“God will give us the love to be able to forgive our enemies”.

When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.

“The school of life offers some difficult courses, but it is in the difficult class that one learns the most – especially when your teacher is the Lord Jesus Christ. The hardest lessons for me were in a cell with four walls. The cell in the prison at Scheveningen was six paces in length, two paces in breadth, with a door that could be opened only from the outside. . . . After that time in prison, the entire world became my classroom.”

“God has plans – not problems – for our lives. Before she died in the concentration camp in Ravensbruck, my sister Betsie said to me, ‘Corrie, your whole life has been a training for the work you are doing here in prison – and for the work you will do afterward.’

“The life of a Christian is an education for higher service. No athlete complains when the training is hard. He thinks of the game, or the race.

One night, while Corrie was in bed with the flu, the sound of footsteps awakened her. “We didn’t plan a drill today,” she thought while her head spinned with fever. She soon realized that this was not a drill! The Jews her family had hidden for so long were running from real Nazi police! She watched as each one of them sprinted into the false wall. That is…almost all of them. She heard the sickening sound of wheezing. The oldest Jew in their home, Mary Italle, had asthma and was struggling to make it to the secret room. Once Mary had made it into Corrie’s room, Corrie sprang from her bed and helped her make it through the secret panel…only seconds before a Nazi policeman appeared in her room.

The police interrogated the family and many other people who came over to the Ten Boom home to warn them of the danger…a little too late. The police were brutal, especially to Betsie and Corrie. They struck them every time they refused to tell them about their underground work.

Finally, the police loaded everyone in the Ten Boom house into vans headed for the city jail. Soon, they were taken into a large room (a former gymnasium) where several other prisoners sat waiting for their fate. Even the suffering they endured there was minuscule compared to what was soon to come.

Once again, the Ten Booms were loaded onto a van and headed for a prison–Scheveningen. Corrie and Betsie were separated from their father in another part of the prison. Corrie was still sick from the flu, so she was placed in solitary confinement for the majority of her sentence. But, the prison workers didn’t even give her an explanation why.

On Hitler’s birthday, the prison workers left to go to a party. This was the perfect time for Corrie to learn about her family’s condition! She called out Betsie’s name. She was still in prison, but relayed this message: “God is good!” Her sister, Nollie: Released! Her brother, Willem: Released! She’d gotten information on all of her loved ones in prison…except her father. Every time she called out his name, no one seemed to know anything about him.

Soon, she received the news. Casper Ten Boom had died. That day, she wrote this on the wall: “Father: Released.” Even in her mourning, Corrie knew that her beloved father was in a better place.

Corrie got over her sickness and was soon well enough to attend her first hearing. The hearings were one-on-one and done in little huts. She was placed with Lieutenant Rhams. The Lieutenant tried at first to “butter her up” with kindness that had not ever been shown in prison. But, soon Corrie and Lieutenant Rhams became friends and scarcely discussed her situation. He was more interested in hearing about her family life. She ministered to him. He had many tragedies in his life. “Great darkness,” he called it. Through their conversations, both Corrie and the Lieutenant found joy.

But, this joy did not last. Soon, Corrie, Betsie and several other female prisoners were transported to Vught, a concentration camp in Holland. The conditions were terrible, much harsher than that of Scheveningen. The rules were very strict, and if broken, the entire camp would be punished. Sometimes, they would only get half-rations of food. Sometimes, they’d have to stand at attention for long periods of time. Sometimes, individual prisoners would be sent to the bunkers (a locker-sized room where prisoners would stand with their hands tied above their heads).

Vught was filled with hate and violence. But, Corrie and Betsie learned forgiveness in a place where it was sometimes impossible to forgive. Oftentimes, Corrie would hear her sister say “I feel so sorry for them,” or “May God forgive them.” It only took a moment to realize that Betsie was referring to their enemies. At first, Corrie didn’t understand this compassion for the very people that were mistreating them. But, as time went on, faith took the place of fear and Corrie understood.

“Looking back across the years of my life, I can see the working of a divine pattern which is the way of God with His children. When I was in a prison camp in Holland during the war, I often prayed, ‘Lord, never let the enemy put me in a German concentration camp.’ God answered no to that prayer. Yet in the German camp, with all its horror, I found many prisoners who had never heard of Jesus Christ.

“If God had not used my sister Betsie and me to bring them to Him, they would never have heard of Him. Many died, or were killed, but many died with the name of Jesus on their lips. They were well worth all our suffering. Faith is like radar which sees through the fog – the reality of things at a distance that the human eye cannot see.”

We may have been the Lord’s only representatives in that place of hatred, yet because of our presence there, things changed.  Jesus said, “In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  We too, are to be overcomers – bringing the light of Jesus into a world filled with darkness and hate.

When I was in the concentration camp, a camp where only twenty percent of the women came out alive, we tried to cheer each other up by saying, “Nothing could be any worse than today.”  But we would find the next day was even worse.  During this time a Bible verse that I had committed to memory gave me great hope and joy. “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you; on their part evil is spoken of, but on your part He is glorified.” (I Peter 3:14)  I found myself saying, “Hallelujah!  Because I am suffering, Jesus is glorified!”

“There are no ‘ifs’ in God’s Kingdom. His timing is perfect. His will is our hiding place. Lord Jesus, keep me in Your will! Don’t let me go mad by poking about outside it.”

“This is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.”

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

“When we are powerless to do a thing, it is a great joy that we can come and step inside the ability of Jesus”

“Faith is like radar that sees through the fog — the reality of things at a distance that the human eye cannot see.”

“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”

“And for all these people alike, the key to healing turned out to be the same. Each had a hurt he had to forgive.”

“Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.”

“God never measures the mind… He always put His tape measure in the HEART”

“Do you know what hurts so very much? It’s love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill that love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel.”

“Your love in me is stronger than the hatred.”

“There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”

“Love is larger than the walls which shut it in.”

“Your love in me is stronger than the hatred.”

“It is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”

“Whenever we cannot love in the old, human way . . . God can give us the perfect way.”

“Dear Jesus…how foolish of me to have called for human help when You are here.”

“Don’t bother to give God instructions; just report for duty.”

“It is not my ability, but my response to God’s ability, that counts.”

“Trying to do the Lord’s work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you.”

“There is no panic in Heaven! God has no problems, only plans.”

“When I try, I fail. When I trust, He succeeds.”

“And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things too. Don’t run out ahead of Him.”

“We never know how God will answer our prayers, but we can expect that He will get us involved in His plan for the answer. If we are true intercessors, we must be ready to take part in God’s work on behalf of the people for whom we pray.”

“He uses our problems for His miracles. This was my first lesson in learning to trust Him completely…”

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
God’s love is not about us but about how much of it we give to others and this must not be those that will give us back. Infact giving it to those that don’t give us back shows that we have something other than the human love which can come only from God. ”To return evil for good is godly”

It was in a church in Munich that I saw him, a balding heavy-set man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. …

And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!

Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland; this man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where we were sent. …

“You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,” he was saying. “I was a guard in there.” No, he did not remember me.

“I had to do it — I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us.”

“But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein, …” his hand came out, … “will you forgive me?”

And I stood there — I whose sins had every day to be forgiven — and could not. Betsie had died in that place — could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

For I had to do it — I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses,” Jesus says, “neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” …

And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion — I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. “Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently. “I can lift my hand, I can do that much. You supply the feeling.”

And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart!”

For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.

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