Corrie ten Boom is one of the great Christian female heroes of World War II. She grew up in Haarlem, North Holland, where she would rescue and protect many Jews escaping Nazi occupation in the Netherlands.
She had 4 siblings, and they all lived with their parents in a poorer part of the city. Through living there, they got to know much of the Jewish population in their area. Even before the threats of the Nazis, their house was seen as a place of refuge. They cared for many, and unofficially adopted several children.
Her father was extremely compassionate, and this got him into some trouble as a businessman. He was a local watchmaker, and when people couldn’t afford to pay, he would do the work for free. Their family often suffered as a result. When Corrie got older, she got trained as a watchmaker as well, becoming one of the first certified female watchmakers in the world. She was also a shrewd businesswoman, and helped her father turn a profit with his company on a consistent basis. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to serve their family.
Corrie was always involved in clubs and activities that advanced the Gospel. She held bible studies and times of prayer in the public schools. She also taught the young men and women about business and helped prepare them for a variety of occupations. Her efforts only stopped when the Nazis outlawed group meetings when they took over.
After the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, it became an easy decision for the ten Boom family to start caring for and hiding the Jews trying to escape. In Corrie’s bedroom, they built a false wall two feet in front of the actual wall. The Jewish people would crawl from a hole in the back of the closet to access it. It could hold six to seven people for as long as needed. Corrie ran drills with anyone hiding out in their home to get themselves and their belongings into the safe area in under a minute and a half.
On February 28, 1944, the entire ten Boom family was arrested. They were first sent to prison, and this is where Corrie’s father died. A few weeks later, Corrie and her sister were sent to a concentration camp. Corrie was the only person not searched for belongings when entering the camp, and as a result, she was able to smuggle her New Testament in with her. During her time in the barracks, she started a bible study with all who were there. As she spoke, the people in there with her translated her words into multiple different languages so that all could understand. This continued on without any Nazis ever finding out what they were doing.
In December of 1944, through a simple clerical error, Corrie was released from the concentration camp. Upon her release, she returned to the Netherlands and rented a home that housed disabled people, ex-prisoners, and those who had escaped from concentration camps.
From this point on, she began to tell her story through writing and speaking about her experiences and the Lord’s work through them. She was a woman of great and exceptional faith that God protected to do incredible work throughout a horrible time in the world’s history.
Here are a few quotes spoken or written by Corrie ten Boom:
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.”
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
“It’s not my ability, but my response to God’s ability, that counts.”
“The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.”
“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.”
(Biographical information accessed from New World Encyclopedia)