Corrie ten Boom (April 15, 1892 - April 15, 1983)

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The frigid night air wafted into the room as people began to leave. Corrie silently thanked God for another wonderful night of fellowhip and started walking towards the coat closet to collect her things. A man approached her, hat in hand, and Corrie smiled at him in greeting. Suddenly, she saw his face clearly and the smile froze on her face. She looked at him and the past flashed by in a matter of seconds - she saw the man holding a baton, the look on his face as he struck a frail woman who had fallen under a heavy load, his many cruel actions in the concentration camp. Unbidden, tears flooded her eyes, and now as she lookd at him more closely, compassion flooded her soul, for she saw something in his eyes. Sorrow, shame, repentance. She smiled again, but this time her smile spoke volumes - forgiveness, acceptance, reconciliation. Corrie and the former guard moved at the same time. As they grasped each other's hand, Corrie was flooded with a consuming love - God's love. She knew that in this moment, God was smiling.

The youngest of four children, Corrie ten Boom was born into a devout christian family and grew up watching her father, a well-liked watchmaker, practice his art. She started training as a watchmaker in 1920 and in 1922, became the first woman to be a licensed watchmaker in the Netherlands.

However, watchmaking was not all her family was involved in - in 1942, two years after the Nazis invaded her country, Corrie's family became very involved in the Dutch underground, helping to hide Jews and protect them from the severe persecution they were facing. In time, the family built a secret compartment in Corrie's room for the refugees, and a large number of Jews received help in this way. Because of this, the ten Boom home came to be known as 'The Hiding Place'.

The entire family risked their lives daily to protect Jews, and one day in 1944, they would be found out. Corrie's family was betrayed by an informer, and they were all arrested. Corrie and her sister, Betsie, ended up at Ravensbruck camp together. There, in spite of their dire consequences and the unbearable prison life, they shared the gospel with their fellow prisoners, many of whom received Jesus as their Savior.

Eventually, four members of Corrie's family would die as a result of imprisonment - her father, Casper, died ten days after his arrest, her nephew was sent to a different camp and was never seen again, her brothew contracted spinal tuberculosis and died after the war, and her sister Betsie died in camp.

However, Corrie survived her ordeal - not only physically, but spiritually as well. She always focused on forgiveness and never harbored any bitterness. When she discovered that her release was a clerical error, and that all the women her age were killed the week after she was released, Corrie said "God doesn't have problems, only plans">

At 53, Corrie began a worldwide ministry - she traveled to over 60 countries and had numerous speaking engagements. She passed away on her 91st birthday, but her message of God's love and forgiveness live on in the legacy of her life.

"Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart." Corrie ten Boom.

Onyih Odunze

References:

1. www.corrietenboom.com/history.htm and

2. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corrie_ten_Boom

*The section in italics, while based on fact, was embellished in the author's imagination.