4 Lessons from the Life of Corrie ten Boom


    Curfew was at 8:00. It was 7:55 when Corrie ten Boom heard a knock at the little alley door of her family’s home. She hurried to the door and opened it. 

   A woman carrying a suitcase stood in the dusky street. Even though it was a warm spring day, she wore a fur coat, gloves, and thick veil.
  “Can I come in?” she asked in a shrill, frightened voice. 

   “Of course,” said Corrie. 

   After a furtive glance over her shoulder, the woman stepped inside. “I’m a Jew,” she explained. “My name is Kleermaker.”

   Taking Mrs. Kleermaker upstairs where her father and older sister Betsie sat at the dining room table, Corrie introduced their guest. 

   “I was just about to make some tea!” Betsie cried, jumping up. 

   And over cups of hot water flavored slightly with reused tea leaves, the woman told her story. Her husband had been arrested, her son had gone into hiding, and the political police who worked for the Nazis had ordered her to close the family clothing store. She was afraid to return home, and she had nowhere else to go. 

   Mrs. Kleermaker was only one of many who would find shelter during the horrors of the Holocaust in the unusual old house where Corrie ten Boom lived with her father and sister in Haarlem, Holland. 

   Holland was an occupied country. When Corrie walked around town, Nazi soldiers were everywhere. Systematic persecution of the Jews was happening right in front of her eyes, and she had family members and friends already engaged in underground work. While she did not know nearly the full extent of what went on in the concentration camps, she knew that those who helped the Jews, or resisted the Nazis in any way, could expect to suffer greatly. 

   Corrie and Betsie, both middle-aged spinsters, and their elderly father may not have seemed the most likely candidates to be involved in underground resistance work. But their love for God and others motivated them to open their doors and help anyone in need. 

   Every time I read or listen to Corrie’s testimony, I am incredibly inspired. I’ve assembled four lessons from her life here, and I hope they’re a blessing to you. 


1. Start serving God right where you are. Corrie ten Boom is well-known for risking her life to help Jews during World War II. But Corrie’s ministry started with her family and community, helping her mother and aunts with the housework, laboring alongside her father in the family watch shop, starting a Bible study for mentally handicapped people, and a variety of other ways. Even her underground work during the war took place mostly within her own home. 

   The lesson for us? Start at home. Start right where you are. In one of Jesus’ parables, He says, “you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things,” (Matthew 25:21). Later in life, Corrie traveled the world telling her story. But she had that story to tell because she had been faithful in the little things. We must be faithful with the few things God has set before us now and trust His plans for our future ministry, no matter how large or small it may seem to us. 

2. God will give you the strength you need, when you need it. When Corrie was a little girl, she went with her mother and sister Nollie to visit a family whose baby had died. After touching the ice-cold fingers of the dead baby, Corrie was terrified. If that baby could die, so could Father, Mama, or her siblings! When her father came to tell her good night, Corrie sobbed out her fears. 

   Her father asked her, “When you and I go to Amsterdam--when do I give you your ticket?” 

   “Why, just before we get on the train,” Corrie sniffed. 

   “Exactly,” said Father. “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.” 

   Again and again throughout her life, Corrie remembered Father’s train ticket. She lost her mother to sickness, later she lost her father in prison, then her older sister Betsie died in a Nazi concentration camp. She endured hardships she could never have imagined going through. Yet, despite the grief she experienced, God gave her strength, just when she needed it. 

3. God is sovereign. After being in Ravensbruck, the notorious women’s extermination camp in Germany, for what must have felt like ages, Corrie was released. After an adventurous and difficult journey, she made it back to Holland. She basked in the bliss of a hot bath, good food, a clean bed, and the kind care of the nurses at a hospital before being reunited with her remaining family and returning to her old home. 

   Later, she learned that all this had happened through a “mistake.” Shortly after her release, every other woman her age in the camp had been killed. A clerical error had caused Corrie to instead be set free. 

  But Corrie knew it was no mistake. As Betsie had said, “There are no ‘ifs’ in God’s kingdom.” 

   This was just one of many times that Corrie witnessed the miraculous sovereignty of God in her life. Other times included a bottle of vitamin drops that never ran out until they obtained more, and concentration camp guards who thoroughly searched the prisoners in front and behind, but didn’t touch Corrie, allowing her to bring her precious Bible into the camp.  

4. Tell what God has done in your life. Before Betsie’s death, she shared with Corrie her dream of opening homes that would be places of healing for those hurt by the war. “We must tell them,” she said, “that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.” 

   After her return to the Netherlands, Corrie fulfilled Betsie’s dream. She started with opening a home. Then she began to travel and tell the story of what she had experienced and learned. 

  She published several books and continued to share what God had done in her life until her death at the age of ninety-one in 1983. And even today, millions of people are still being encouraged and inspired by her testimony. 

Well, there you have it! I’ve only shared a few of the many lessons we can learn from Corrie’s life. If you haven’t read her book The Hiding Place, you need to. 

   And always remember, “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it,” (1 Thessalonians 5:24). 

All for Him, 

Savannah Jane

P. S. Drawing at the beginning of this post done by yours truly. :)


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