“In darkness, God’s light shines most clear.” Corrie ten Boom’s faith shone even in the darkness of the holocaust. This courageous Dutch watchmaker overcame the despair of the Ravensbrück concentration camp as she shared her light with her fellow prisoners throughout the war.
- Show Gratitude: “Prayer is the key for the day; the lock for the night” Despite illness, abuse, and grief, Corrie and her sister, Betsie, did their best to give thanks to God. Upon installment in the overcrowded Ravensbrück barracks, Betsie reminded Corrie that they were to “give thanks in every circumstance.” However, when Betsie gave thanks for the fleas, even Corrie balked. Yet she gave thanks, and in the months following, discovered that the same fleas that tormented them nightly kept guards from intruding upon the safety of the barracks during the day.
- Serve: “The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the word of God.” Even in prison, Corrie and Betsie prayed and read the Bible with those around them, bringing their light to the darkness of Ravensbrück. Though crippled by illness, they shared what they had and served those who could not help themselves. In serving others, Corrie found a purpose and a peace that would sustain her throughout the war.
- Love: When the love of her life married another woman and Corrie’s heart shattered, her father taught her this lesson: “’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 the love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or, Corrie, we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel . . . . Whenever we cannot love in the old human way, God can give us the perfect way,” . . . He had put into my hands the secret that would open far darker rooms than this; places where there was not, on a human level, anything to love at all.” Corrie learned to love God’s children so much that she sacrificed her freedom to rescue approximately 800 Jews. Later, when she entered those darker rooms of the holocaust, rather than curling in on herself, hiding from the pain, she brought the light of love with her.
- Forgive: When God “tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.” Corrie discovered that while she felt pity for the abused, Betsie found it in herself to love the abusers. After the war, Corrie fulfilled both sisters’ dreams and founded homes for both former prisoners and guards, giving them the love and time they needed to heal. Later in her ministry, a Ravensbrück guard asked her for forgiveness. He did not recognize her, but she recognized him. In this moment of agony, she turned to God and He filled her with the forgiveness the man sought. In her own words, she taught that “to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.”
- Trust in God’s Purposes: “Let God’s promises shine on your problems.” Corrie believed that “every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.” Instead of being angry at God for allowing her to suffer, Corrie had faith that God had prepared her to take the path she was on. If God willed that she labor in Ravensbrück, losing her sister and father along the way, she trusted that there was a purpose to her suffering. Corrie found the strength to bear her burdens by trusting that they filled God’s purposes. After her miraculous release, Corrie continued to use her experiences in Ravensbrück to share the light of God with people all over the world.
Corrie ten Boom died in 1983, having shone the light of God in some of the darkest moments in history.
You can read Corrie’s autobiography, The Hiding Place, to learn more about her life and faith.
Camille Ward is a student of English Education at BYU. She loves to spend time with her family and walk outside and is not to be trusted in bookstores or bakeries.