By Melissa McLaughlin
Sometimes, a message of God’s hope is the only gift you can offer another person.
Sometimes, this is the only gift we really need.
Corrie Ten Boom’s Family Life
One woman who has inspired multitudes with her message of hope in Christ is Corrie Ten Boom.
Corrie was born in the Netherlands on April 15, 1892, into a family of accomplished watchmakers. In keeping with family tradition, Corrie trained and later became the first female licensed watchmaker in the Netherlands.
The Ten Boom’s were sincere, faithful and generous Christians. Corrie’s family held weekly Bible studies and prayer meetings in their home. In addition, Corrie conducted Christian outreach programs and worship services for people with disabilities in her community. Recognizing the leadership of Hitler as sheer evil, Corrie’s family began hiding Jewish people in their home in order to protect them from Nazi persecution that spilled over from Germany after the Germans invaded the Netherlands during World War II. The Ten Boom’s became part of the Dutch underground resistance movement, protecting, hiding and helping Jewish people escape from their now Nazi occupied country.
The Greatest Work
After working together to rescue Jewish babies from an orphanage where they were slated to be killed, a young Dutch native who worked in the underground network with Corrie’s family, was said to emphatically proclaim, “There is no greater work to be done in this whole world than saving people’s lives.” Corrie gently corrected the young man, explaining that there was one greater task to be done, that of saving people’s souls. According to Corrie, “When you come to Jesus and bring your sins to Him, you are forgiven and He will give you a peace that passes understanding. Thank God that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and receive Him as your Savior and Lord.” She clarified for the young man, that sharing this message is our most important work.
At the time, the young man couldn’t understand the significance of Corrie’s words. However, some months later this same young man was imprisoned for his underground work and told that he and all those with him would be executed by the end of the week. The young man told his friends about Jesus and reassured them that when the gun fired, if they believed in Jesus, their souls would be at rest with Christ in heaven. Many accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. He wrote a long letter to Corrie just before he died, stating that now he understood the greatest work a person could do is tell others about Christ in order that souls may be saved.
He and the others were executed as scheduled.
The Family is Betrayed
After many months of successfully protecting Jews in their home as part of the Dutch underground resistance movement, tragically the Ten Boom family was betrayed by a Dutch neighbor who was secretly colluding with Nazi leaders. Corrie and her family were imprisoned on February 28, 1944. Corrie’s father died 10 days later in prison, at the age of 84. Her sister, Nollie and nephew, Willem were released. However, Corrie and her sister, Betsie, remained in prison.
While there, Corrie spent over three months in solitary confinement in a 5’ by 2’ prison cell. She experienced horrific conditions and felt desperate and lonely as day after day, week after week, month after month, she was completely and utterly alone. In an interview on the show I Believe in Miracles, Corrie described how she prayed from the depths of her soul, crying out, “God I can’t be alone anymore.” Shortly after voicing that prayer a small ant quietly wandered into the room. The ant strolled through and visited regularly and its tiny presence brought joy and a small sign of life from God. However, whenever a guard stomped down the hallway, the ant scurried off and hid in a small hole in the wall. Corrie felt God speak a message to her through the life of the ant, “As the ant has a hiding place in the wall, so I am your hiding place.”
Psalm 32:7 – You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
After several months, Corrie was taken to her first hearing. While on trial testifying, Corrie mentioned her work with the mentally disabled people in her community. The Nazi lieutenant who was overseeing the hearing sneered, as the Nazis had been annihilating mentally disabled people, due to their heartless eugenics ideologies. Corrie promptly defended her outreach efforts, asserting that from God’s point of view, a mentally disabled person might be more valuable “than a watchmaker or a lieutenant.”
The Concentration Camp
Corrie and her sister, Betsie, were eventually transferred to the Ravensbrück concentration camp near Berlin, Germany, where over 90,000 women died by the time World War II ended. The Ten Boom sisters were able to smuggle a small Bible into the prison and regularly held Bible studies and worship services with fellow prisoners, bringing hope and Christian encouragement, in an otherwise bleak and hopeless situation.
One evening, all of the youngest prisoners were moved out at midnight to an ammunition factory in order to replenish the dwindling workforce there. All the prisoners knew this venture would be very dangerous, as the ammunition factory was targeted for bombings by allied troops fighting against the Germans. Corrie and Betsie were too old to be included in this group, so Corrie slipped out of the prison barracks at night and hid behind a building while the 250 young prisoners marched solemnly forward. Row by row in the pitch-black night air, Corrie whispered to them:
“God’s love stands after all else has fallen.”
”Jesus is Victor.”
Corrie repeated these phrases, alternating, one by one, row by row, until the prisoners were gone. Then she swiftly crept back to her bunk without being caught.
Sometime later, the prisoners returned to the concentration camp and told Corrie the factory was indeed bombed and they all feared for their lives. However, as the bombs dropped and the building shook, as they huddled together and waited in dread, they reminded one another of the two phrases that Corrie had whispered to them in the dark of night.
“God’s love stands after all else has fallen.”
“Jesus is Victor.”
Of the 250 young people who left to work in the ammunition factory, 249 returned alive. Corrie’s response to this miraculous sparing of life, “Prayer is powerful.”
Sometimes all we can offer is a whisper of hope.
But sometimes this is the very thing that is needed.
As time passed, Corrie’s sister, Betsie, grew very sick and knew she would soon die. Betsie asked Corrie to share this message once freed, “No matter how deep a pit you are in, the everlasting arms of the Lord are deeper still. We can tell them because we have been here. We are not talking about theory or theology, but reality and experience.”
Deuteronomy 33:27a – The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
Death and Freedom
Betsie Ten Boom died on December 16, 1944 at the age of 59. Corrie was devastated. They had been together since birth and together had endured the unspeakable evil of the Holocaust. A mere fifteen days later, Corrie was released from Ravensbrück. Incredibly, this was just one week before they massacred all of the women Corrie’s age and older in the gas chamber, in order to make room for new prisoners. After her discharge, Corrie learned that her inexplicable and timely release was the result of a clerical error. Corrie’s life was miraculously spared. In her words, it was “man’s blunder but God’s miracle.”
After the War
After the war, Corrie opened a rehabilitation center for those who had survived the concentration camps as well as destitute members of the Dutch community. In 1945, Corrie returned to Germany where she met, and with the help of God, forgave two of the Ravensbrück guards. Corrie was invited to speak in more than 60 countries telling this amazing story of healing and hope in Christ, despite having faced such staggering hatred and heinous brutality. Corrie’s biography The Hiding Place recounts this intensely tragic and profoundly triumphant story.
Corrie dubbed herself “A Tramp for the Lord.” In her words, “By my suffering I could understand a fraction of the suffering of Jesus.”
The Ten Boom family’s favorite scripture verse was Psalm 91:1 – He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Interestingly, Corrie Ten Boom died on April 15, 1983, at age 91 on her 91st birthday.
Of all her extraordinary acts and words of faith, the ones I most remember are her simple, but profound words, “Jesus is Victor!”
Sometimes all we can do is whisper hope.
But sometimes this is the very thing we need.
In darkest night, when everything else is lost, may we remember Corrie’s gift to others who marched expectantly toward their own death, may we imagine her hushed voice and whisper to ourselves and to others,
“God’s love stands when all else fails.”
“Jesus is Victor!”
Sources and Resources
Unabridged Interview with Kathryn Kuhlman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OaP_aSjyC0
The Hiding Place Movie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlZiDwsZVJw
Ten Boom Museum https://www.tenboom.org/
Photo By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53666540
I loved reading this, Melissa. I dearly love the story of Corrie Ten Boom and have found so much comfort and inspiration from her writings and the movie about her life. My husband, our son and I read “The Hiding Place” together for his literature homeschool class, and we all three enjoyed it so much. It is a hard read when you think of all those dear souls went through, but it surely is faith-inspiring. God bless you, sweet sister.
Dear Cheryl, thank you for reading and sharing my love for this amazing woman of God! Her story has always captured my heart, as well. What a powerful piece of literature for you to share as a family. Though it hurts to read these accounts of human evil, it reminds us God is with us in the fire. I pray that God will use Corrie Ten Boom’s incredible story of survival and forgiveness to touch many more and draw them to Christ. God bless you, sweet sister.
Thank you for writing about such a precious saint of God. I love her story, the book and the movie “The Hiding Place.” Such a time she lived in and she made a real difference! What an example. Great post!
I wholeheartedly agree, Corrie Ten Boom was a precious saint of God. What an inspiring and courageous Christian woman. May we be as strong in our faith in the small trials we face. God bless you!
Corrie Ten Boom is an inspiration to all generations.
Thank you for sharing.
Such an inspiration! Corrie Ten Boom’s story of faith, hope and love never gets old. I pray a new generation of people will get to know her and be encouraged to live for Christ come what may.
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The film The Hiding Place introduced me to Corrie Ten Boom. I read her book too. She is an inspiration. 🙂
I first learned as about Corrie Ten Boom as a child, then later saw the movie and read her book, The Hiding Place. But recently when I discovered this interview (in my sources below) I was drawn back to ponder her astounding life. May we live for Jesus with the strength she exhibited!
Each time I read about Corrie Ten Boom, I learn something new. Thank you for sharing about her and her life.
Thank you for reading about Corrie Ten Boom once again and I’m thankful you were able to learn something new. For me, her story will always capture my heart. May we be inspired anew by her faith and fervor!
Such an amazing Woman!! Thanks for this awesome heart felt post, God Bles
Thank you Stephen! Corrie Ten Boom is one of those Christians who lived up to Christ’s calling in a way that I pray I could, too. You are right, she was an amazing woman!
Dear Melissa, thank you for sharing this. Few in this generation have heard of Corrie. Her story has been an example for me for many years. Those who deny the Holocaust should read her story.
Praise the Lord that He gives His Spirit to endure and to witness as He chooses through us.
Dear Fran, I pray that the story of Corrie Ten Boom will resurface with a whole new generation of Christians to be inspired by her life AND to understand that living for Christ truly sometimes leads to terrible persecution. Your words are true – only the Holy Spirit could give us the strength to endure and witness for Him in trials. May our hearts be true to Jesus, come what may!
This is beautiful, Melissa. I’ve always been moved by Corrie’s story of strong and unwavering faith. And I learned some new things here. I never heard about her friend, the ant. 🙂 My favorite part is how she slipped out and repeated these phrases to the rows of prisoners leaving to the work at the factory:
“God’s love stands after all else has fallen.”
“Jesus is Victor.”
Hallelujah! That makes me want to shout and worship the Lord our Most High God!
Corrie’s story has always moved my heart, as well, Karen! You nailed it, with your description: strong, unwavering faith. I am undone by the gifts of faith that she bestowed upon others – like whispering to them in the night, “Jesus is Victor!” I am shouting and worshiping the Lord Most High with you! May the Lord Jesus be the gift we give others, for in the end, it is the gift we most need!
I SO needed to read this post today. Thank you so much for writing this!! “Sometimes all we can offer is a whisper of hope. But sometimes this is the very thing that is needed.” Amen — Jesus is victor!
May Jesus Christ be praised! Thank you for reading, Jessica, and remembering with me Corrie Ten Boom’s gift to the world – the gift of faith in Jesus Christ! He is victor!
What a testimony of the power through Christ we have even in the darkest of moments. I love reading Corrie’s story and am so convicted by her attitude in the face of death. Thank you for sharing this!
Corrie Ten Boom has such a testimony! I, too, have always been drawn to the story of her life and faith. You are right, Emily, her attitude in the face of death and evil, is an incredible thing to behold. Oh Lord, help each one of us, right where we are, to be a living testimony of your truth, mercy and grace.
I love learning more about Corrie ten Boom! She was an amazing person full of faith and forgiveness!
I’m with you, Julie! I love reading and learning more about Corrie Ten Boom! Wouldn’t it be something to visit the Ten Boom museum in the Netherlands? May we be encouraged to grow even stronger in the Lord, as we remember faithful Christians like Corrie!
She was such a powerful personality. I love her story. Thanks for the reminders with many new details. God bless!
Dear Nancy, thank you for joining me here to remember Corrie’s amazing life and faithfulness to our Lord and His people! May we be inspired anew to live fully for Him, as well!
Such a powerful testimony of Christian faith in Corrie Ten Boom’s life. She inspires me, and you did a fantastic job telling her story. Wow.
I agree, Lisa. Corrie Ten Boom’s life story has always captured my heart, as a powerful testimony of someone who truly lived out our Christian faith. I learned so much by listening to the interview from the youtube link below. What a joy to listen to her personal retelling of events. That is where I discovered many additional details that are not included in the movie or book. Such an incredible Christ-follower and woman of God!
Melissa, it’s been many years since I’ve read Hiding Place. I loved reading your words here. The fervent reminders of Corrie Ten Boom’s passionate faith challenge and encourage me.
I don’t remember how she’d sneak out to whisper words of hope to the factory workers. Such a beautiful testimony of God’s power and protection. Thanks for sharing this.
Jeanne, it has been a while for me, too, which is why I wanted to feature her life story here. Her faith and sheer bravery in the face of such cruelty is truly unimaginable. I learned about her sneaking out to whisper words of hope to factory workers when I listened to her interview with Kathryn Kuhlman. There are more remarkable details to her story if you ever have time to watch the interview (below in the youtube link.) It is so challenging and inspiring!
I always loved Corrie Ten Boom. Thanks
Thank you, dear Yvonne, for reading and remembering the life of this heroine of our faith, Corrie Ten Boom! May we spur one another one to greater and greater faith in every way possible!
Hers is one of my favorite biographies. Such faith, wisdom, and courage!
I agree, Beth! Corrie Ten Boom’s biography is incredible and has always been one of my favorites. May her strong faith give us strength in whatever we may face!
This is such a thorough and beautiful testimony of Corrie ten Boom. She is one of my role models. It is has refreshed me to read this at the beginning of my day. Thank you!
Thank you for the kind words. All glory to God! Corrie Ten Boom is an amazing heroine of the faith and a great role model for me, as well. I agree with you, I am refreshed and draw near strength for my faith, as I read and reread of her great faith!
Melissa, thank you for this thoughtful post. My mom talks of meeting Corrie ten Boom when she (my mom) was very young. I wish I could have known her. Sometimes I run across one of her quotes on Twitter or Instagram, or in a book, and I’m like Wow! What a remarkable woman! Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!
Wow, Patsy, to think that your mom met Corrie ten Boom! What a memory that must have been! Her story of faith in Christ against such a backdrop of evil is something few of us have ever or will ever face. May we be as true to our Savior as Corrie! What a pleasure to meet you at InstaEncouragements!
I just finished rereading “The Hiding Place” I feel it’s so important to remember the believers who suffer for Christ’s name. I am too comfortable. This is a great article about her life.
Thank you for sharing your insights. I am too comfortable, as well. May Corrie’s story “The Hiding Place” remind us that there are many believers still suffering today for their faith in the world today. Holy Spirit, we ask you to revive the hearts and minds of those who are suffering because of their faith in Jesus. May His powerful love shine brighter than the darkness. Let us keep awake and not grow complacent or stagnant in our faith. Stir the fire of our faith in You! In Jesus’ name.
powerful story not really talked about enough
I agree. Corrie Ten Boom’s life is a powerful testimony of Christian love. I pray this small article featuring her courage and faith will help bring a greater awareness of her once again.
So uplifting to hear the story of Corrie ten Boom’s life again with new details I did not know especially her whispered words of hope to sustain the young prisoners going to the bomb factory. Thank you, Melissa! A wonderful way to start my day!
Dear Dr. Pam, thank you for taking the time to stop by, read and comment! Corrie Ten Boom’s faith in the midst of such evil has always been a great inspiration to me. I learned of many events she endured by listening to the interviews she gave. I’m praising God these were captured, so we can still see the twinkle in her eye, even at the later years of her life. May we continue to encourage and lift one another in our journey with Christ. May we, too, be found faithful. Bless you!
Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful piece. Years ago, two books I read that made a lasting impact on me as a young believer were Corrie Ten Boom’s “The Hiding Place” and Richard Wurmbrand’s “Tortured for Christ”. In a day when humanity across the globe is engulfed in trauma from all kinds of situations, there can be no better comfort than to hear again and again these blessed words of reassurance– we can lean on the everlasting arms of Jesus
David, thank you for reading and sharing your experiences. I have read both of those books and was left speechless in both cases. The horrors that some have endured for their faith in Christ is simultaneously inspiring and humbling. May we be found faithful, Lord Jesus. Come what may! The Lord bless you and keep you, brother.
I remember reading her book as a young girl. She was an inspiration then and still is today. I pray to have her strength and faith.
I join you in this prayer, Yvonne! Corrie Ten Boom exuded faith, bravery, love and mercy in Christ to such a level I can not even comprehend. But I am inspired to be true to Jesus, come what may.