Keeping Alive the Corrie ten Boom Tradition of Care
The ten Boom family were devoted Christians who dedicated their lives in service to their fellow men. Their home was always an “open house” for anyone in need. During the Second World War, the ten Boom home became a refuge, a hiding place, for fugitives and those hunted by the Nazis. Like the famed Oscar Schindler, the ten Booms were instrumental in saving nearly 800 Jews from the Nazi death camps, and were imprisoned themselves for their efforts. Life in the camp was almost unbearable, but Corrie and her sister, Betsie, spent their time sharing Jesus’ love with their fellow prisoners. Many women became Christians in that terrible place because of Corrie and Betsie’s witness to them. Four members of the ten Boom family gave their lives for the family’s commitment, but Corrie came home from the death camp. She realized her life was a gift from God, and she needed to share what she and Betsie had learned in Ravensbruck. At age 53, Corrie began aworldwide ministry that took her into more than 60 countries in the next 32 years.
The Jerusalem Prayer Team is a direct outreach of the Corrie ten Boom Fellowship. The ten Boom family started a weekly prayer meeting for the Jewish people in 1844, after a moving worship service in the Dutch Reformed Church of Rev. Witteveen. Willem ten Boom felt the need to pray for the Jewish people so he started the weekly prayer meeting where the family and others who stopped by specifically prayed for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6). These meetings took place every week for one hundred years, until February 28, 1944, when Nazi soldiers came to the house to take them away for helping local Jews and hiding them in a secret room. On that day, the family was together for a Bible study and prayer meeting. Following the tradition of the ten Boom family, Jerusalem Prayer Team continues to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and encourages Christians to exercise their faith by helping the Jewish people – God’s ancient people.
The Hiding Place for Corrie ten Boom
In 1837, Willem ten Boom opened a Clock Shop in this house. His family lived in the rooms above the shop. The ten Boom family were devoted Christians who dedicated their lives in service to their fellow man. Their home was always an “open house” for anyone in need. Through the decades the ten Booms were very active in social work in Haarlem and their faith inspired them to serve the religious community and society at large.
During the Second World War, the ten Boom home became a refuge, a hiding place, for fugitives and those hunted by the Nazis. By protecting these people, Casper and his daughters, Corrie and Betsie, risked their lives. This non-violent resistance against the Nazi-oppressors was the ten Boom’s way of living out their Christian faith. This faith led them to hide Jews, students who refused to cooperate with the Nazis, and members of the Dutch “underground” resistance movement.
During 1943 and into 1944, there were usually 6-7 people illegally living in this home, 4 Jews and 2 or 3 members of the Dutch underground. Additional refugees would stay with the ten Booms for a few hours or a few days until another “safe house” could be located for them. Corrie became a ringleader within the network of the Haarlem underground. Corrie and “the Beje group” would search for courageous Dutch families who would take in refugees and much of Corrie’s time was spent caring for these people once they were in hiding.
Through these activities, the ten Boom family and their many friends saved the lives of an estimated 800 Jews and protected many Dutch underground workers.
On February 28, 1944, this family was betrayed and the Gestapo (the Nazi secret police) raided their home. The Gestapo set a trap and waited throughout the day, seizing everyone who came to the house. By evening, over 20 people had been taken into custody! Casper, Corrie, and Betsie were all arrested. Corrie’s brother Willem, sister Nollie, and nephew Peter were at the house that day and were also taken to prison.
“God does not have problems.
Only plans” – Corrie ten Boom
Although the Gestapo systematically searched the house, they could not find what they sought most. They suspected Jews were in the house, but the Jews were safely hidden behind a false wall in Corrie’s bedroom. In this “hiding place” were two Jewish men, two Jewish women, and two members of the Dutch underground. Although the house remained under guard, the Resistance was able to liberate the refugees two days later. The six people had managed to stay quiet in their small, dark hiding place for all that time, even though they had no water and very little food. The four Jews were taken to new “safe houses”, and three survived the war. One of the underground workers was killed during the war years, but the others survived.
Because underground materials and extra ration cards were found in their home, the ten Boom family was imprisoned. Casper (84 years old) died after only 10 days in Scheveningen Prison. When Casper was asked if he knew he could die for helping Jews, he replied, “It would be an honor to give my life for God’s ancient people”. Corrie and Betsie spent 10 months in three different prisons, the last being the infamous Ravensbruck concentration camp located near Berlin, Germany. Life in the camp was almost unbearable, but Corrie and Betsie spent their time sharing Jesus’ love with their fellow prisoners. Many women became Christians in that terrible place because of Corrie and Betsie’s witness to them. Betsie (59) died in Ravensbruck, but Corrie survived. Corrie’s nephew, Christiaan (24), had been sent to Bergen Belsen for his work in the underground. He did not return. Corrie’s brother, Willem (60), was also a ring leader in the Dutch underground. While in prison for this “crime”, he contracted spinal tuberculosis and died shortly after the war.
Corrie received many tributes. Following the war, Corrie was honored by the Queen of Holland as a War Hero. In 1968, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem asked Corrie to plant a tree in the Garden of Righteousness, in honor of the many Jewish lives her family saved. Corrie’s tree stands there today. In the early 1970’s, Corrie’s book THE HIDING PLACE became a best seller, and World Wide Pictures (Billy Graham Evangelistic Assoc.) released the major motion picture “The Hiding Place”. Corrie went on to write many other inspiring books. There are five evangelical videos about Corrie.
Corrie was a woman faithful to God. She died on her 91st birthday, April 15, 1983. It is interesting that Corrie’s passing occurred on her birthday. In the Jewish tradition, it is only very blessed people who are allowed the special privilege of dying on their birthday!
The Tradition Was Started by the Corrie ten Boom Family
The family ten Boom started a weekly prayer meeting for the Jewish people in 1844 after a moving worship service in the Dutch Reformed Church of Rev. Witteveen. Willem ten Boom felt the need to pray for the Jewish people, so he started the weekly prayer meeting, where the family and others who stopped by, specifically prayed for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6). These meetings took place every week for one hundred years, until February 28,1944, when Nazi soldiers came to the house to take them away for helping local Jews and hiding them in a secret room. On that day, the family was together for a Bible study and prayer meeting.
The Prayer Meeting Continues
In the tradition of the ten Boom family, The Corrie ten Boom Fellowship continues to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and encourages Christians to exercise their faith by helping the Jewish people. Visit the Corrie ten Boom museum at www.tenboom.org
The Corrie ten Boom Fellowship is a non-profit 501c(3) organization governed by a board of directors. Its purpose is to encourage Americans to pray for and encourage Jews around the world, but more specifically in Israel. Like the ten Boom family, it’s main goal is to encourage others to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. It gains no direction or funding from the State of Israel.