This week as I’ve been struggling with being a foster parent, I turned to the story of Corrie ten Boom for inspiration. She represents so much of what I aspire to be. A celebrated author, she penned the famous autobiography, The Hiding Place, about her life and efforts to hide Jews during WWII. Before the war, she led a youth club to teach and mentor teenage girls. But by far the most astonishing part of her story was her steadfast devotion to her faith.
The ten Boom family were watchmakers by trade, and Corrie became the first licensed female watchmaker in the Netherlands. The family had built up a reputation for helping others even before the war broke out, so there was never a question of what to do when a young Jewish woman came to them seeking asylum in 1940. Corrie’s father, Casper ten Boom, believed that the Old Testament clearly identified the Jews as God’s chosen people and is quoted having said, “In this household, God’s people are always welcome.”
From there, they opened “The Hiding Place” to house Jews and other members of the resistance movement. Corrie befriended a worker at the local rations office and managed to secure 100 ration cards, which she gave out to every Jew she encountered. Eventually her entire family was arrested for their elaborate efforts to help the Jews after she unwittingly married a spy who raided her watch shop. After 3 months in jail, Corrie was brought to trial where she shared about taking in the disabled, a concept that bothered one Nazi lieutenant in the crowd. Gutsy Corrie didn’t back down from her convictions and responded that in the eyes of God, a disabled person could be more valuable than “a watchmaker. Or a lieutenant.”
After the trial, Corrie was sent to a concentration camp in Germany. Despite the hard labor she was made to endure, Corrie led worship services with a Bible she had smuggled into the camp. In 1945, she was released from the camp, only to discover later that her release was due to a clerical error and the following week all the women in her age group were sent to the gas chambers.
Corrie lived to 91 and continued her work with the mentally disabled while also speaking around the country about her experiences. Whenever I am struggling to find the strength to carry on in our foster care journey, I read a few quotes from Corrie ten Boom and remember the woman whose faith never faltered. Below are some of my favorite quotes.
“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
“You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.”
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
“This is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.”
“Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”
“Do you know what hurts so very much? It’s love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill that love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel.”