February 28, 2013 marks the anniversary of the arrest of the family of Corrie ten Boom in Haarlem Holland. Some are familiar with the narrative as told in her book and later in the movie produced by Dr. Billy Graham, The Hiding Place. Most are not aware of the story and the integrity, and courage of that Dutch household. Glenn Beck aired the movie on TheBlaze TV and invited me to Israel to tell the story at his “Restoring Courage” event last year.
Corrie’s father, Casper ten Boom, met evil face-to-face on a bitter day in 1944 when Nazis invaded his home in search of hidden Jews. According to the Gestapo, he was worthy of death for one reason only: Helping Dutch Jews evade arrest and deportation to Nazi concentration camps. About thirty people—Bible-believing family and friends—had gathered for a prayer meeting to pray for the Jewish people and the peace of Jerusalem; all were arrested.
Corrie had been in bed for two days with influenza when she heard the incessant buzzing of the alarm used to warn Jewish guests. Thoughts of a drill in progress were soon followed by the realization that it was no drill as the Jews rushed past her bed and into the hiding place that had been prepared behind a wall in her room. Hearing heavy footfalls on the stairs below, she secured the trapdoor and dove back into her bed, feigning sleep.
Her door burst open and a man demanded her name. “Cornelia ten Boom,” she sleepily replied. The Gestapo leader casually asked, “So, where are you hiding the Jews?” Corrie denied any knowledge of Jews or an underground ring. The seven Jews hidden behind the fake wall were not discovered and were eventually led to safety—following in the footsteps of almost 800 others who escaped to Palestine.
The group was taken to a local prison where they were questioned; some were released, others sent back to wait in fearful suspense. As darkness fell, the frightened gathered around Casper. Not able to encircle them with his arms, he embraced them with his voice as he quoted words from the Psalms: “Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.… Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.” His prayer was a benediction some would never again hear.
Finally an official shouted, “Casper ten Boom!” The old man struggled to stand. He stumbled toward the door and was hustled inside the interrogation room. Peacefully and politely, the grandfather answered questions barked at him. The interrogator leaned back in his chair and smiled. Then, leaning forward he offered, “Old man, if you promise us you will not save any more Jews we will let you sleep in your own bed.”
Quietly Casper responded, “I would consider it an honor to give my life for God’s Chosen People.” On March 10, 1944, Casper ten Boom died at The Hague Municipal Hospital after ten days of incarceration in Scheveningen prison.
His determination to assist God’s Chosen People was the result of his great-great-grandfather who in 1844 had begun a weekly meeting in his home to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6). The meetings ended one hundred years later on February 28, 1944, when Nazi soldiers took the ten Boom family away for aiding local Jews.
Corrie and her sister were sent to Ravensbruk where Betsie later died. Days after her sister’s death, Corrie was released due to a clerical error and allowed to return home. The ministry that began in the dark, dank confines of a concentration camp propelled her into the sunlight as she ministered to people worldwide—even to those responsible for Betsie’s death.
Although the prayer meeting ended in 1944, the prayers of the family did not. Like an underground river boring its way through rocks and crevices, it again sprang to life. Today tens of thousands worldwide have assumed the mantle of the ten Boom family and continue to pray for the Jewish people and the peace of Jerusalem.
Dr Michael David Evans is the Chairmen of the board of the ten Boom House in Haarlem, Holland; www.tenboom.com