Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Light In Darkness

The Hiding PlaceI just finished reading the book The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. I bought it because Nolan will be studying World War II at the end of this school year and I like to combine our literature studies with history whenever possible. He is an avid reader and I think a good fiction or non-fiction book helps to bring history alive, to make it more real and more understandable on a personal level.

The Hiding Place is the story of the ten Boom family, written from Corrie's perspective. What an amazing, loving family. When the Nazis occupied Holland (the ten Boom's lived in Haarlem), the family became part of the underground resistance movement. Mostly they helped to hide people in danger from the Nazi's. Eventually the family was arrested and Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to a concentration camp. Betsie died in the camp but Corrie survived to tell their story to the world.

What struck me most about the book was the faith of the people. The ten Booms were Dutch Reformed. When they began taking people into their homes, they continued their practice of Bible reading and prayer with everyone in the home, no matter the religion of those they were harboring. Obviously, many of those they were helping were Jewish. At no time did the ten Boom's try to convert those in their home outright. They showed the love of Jesus through their actions, their daily lived prayer and Bible study and I'm sure by the words they spoke about the love and sacrifice of God's son. They did not proselytize. What they did at all times was LOVE. 

Corrie wrote over and over again about her sister Betsie's love for others, especially for those who were cruel to her. She was a pure example of God's love for the world. She carried the light of Jesus into a very dark world. She was thankful for everything, even the flea infested bunker in which they had to sleep.
"Betsie, there is no way even God can  make me grateful for a flea." 
"Give thanks in all circumstances," Bestie quoted. "It doesn't say, 'in pleasant circumstances.' Fleas are a 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." (pg 210)
While in the concentration camp, Corrie and Betsie were able to hide their little Bible and so held Bible study and prayer each evening in their bunk house. Women of all faiths joined them. Catholic women said the Magnificat in Latin, some Lutheran women whispered a hymn, and a sotto-voice chant by Eastern Orthodox women could be heard. Betsie and Corrie would translate their Dutch Bible into German so more women could understand and the words would then be translated down the isles into French, Polish, Russian, Czech and back into Dutch.
I would think of Haarlem, each substantial church set behind its wrought-iron fence and its barrier of doctrine. And I would know again that in darkness God's truth shines most clear. (pg. 213)

Again, at the core was the love of God. These women came together and in the midst of horror found hope in the Lord. They shared their faiths together and together God gave them hope amidst despair. Many of the women died in the camp. Their hope was for the next life. For Corrie, who was released due to a clerical error, she used her experiences to share that love and hope to millions of people around the world until she died. 

What kept the Nazi guards, who watched every movement of the prisoners, from finding the ten Booms Bible and breaking up their daily prayer service and Bible study? 

It was the fleas. The guards wouldn't step into the bunk house because of the fleas. Be thankful for everything, no matter if you can see the use of it or not.

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