When World War 2 broke out, many Jews were being rounded up and sent on one-way trips to the concentration camps of the Third Reich. The ten Booms decided to fight back by making their home a safe house for Jews. This Dutch family would hide the Jews, give them new identity papers, clothes, and money to escape the Gestapo’s grasp.
But how did the Jews know when to come? Hanging in the window of the ten Boom’s home was a small triangular sign advertising the famous Tissot watches made in Switzerland. When the sign was out, it was safe for Jews to enter, but when it was missing, this was a sign that they should come back at a later time. A neighbor, however, figured out what the Tissot sign in the window was about and like Judas who betrayed Jesus, reported the ten Booms to the Gestapo. The entire ten Boom family was arrested, along with the people hiding in their home. Within a few days of captivity, Corrie’s aged father died, and she and her sister Betsie were sent to Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, a women’s labor camp in Germany. At the camp, Corrie and Betsie were lights in a dark place, initiating worship services and comforting the distressed and afflicted. But Betsie’s health began to deteriorate. Still she encouraged her sister Corrie, saying, “There is no pit so deep that He (God) is not deeper still.”
Betsie died, and a week before Corrie’s scheduled execution, through an administrative fluke, she was released while the other women in her age bracket were sent to the gas chambers. God had miraculously spared her life. After the devastating war ended, Corrie went back to Germany as an ambassador of goodwill, and wherever she went she stressed the importance of forgiveness. But has she truly forgiven?
One evening her message of reconciliation was put to the test. Having just spoken in a bombed-out church, she was standing in the front greeting people when walking down the aisle was a man she recognized. It was one of the Ravensbrück guards who had cruelly whacked the women on the buttocks as he drove them to the showers when they had first arrived there.
Reaching the front of the church, he extended his hand toward hers, saying what a fine message she had brought. Corrie was frozen. Hatred welled up in her heart. Touching him was the last thing she wanted to do, but she remembered how she had just told the people that if we do not forgive each other, God will not forgive us either.
“God,” she prayed, “help me to forgive him.” Corrie shared how a warm feeling began at the top of her head and surged through her body. She extended her hand and said, “I forgive you . . . I forgive you with all my heart.”
Writing of that experience she says, “Forgiveness is not an emotion. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”
This is an excerpt from 40 Unstoppable Women who Changed the World written by Harold J. Sala. This book is now available at OMF Lit and Passages Bookshops and our online store, passagesbooks.com for P325.
Meet forty women who model the Proverbs 31 woman. In these pages, Dr. Harold Sala talks about courage, forgiveness, love, sacrifice, and compassion through the lives of these brave women who changed the world.
Prepare to be inspired by —
• The lawyer who faced her assassin and lived to tell about it
• The missionary who was held hostage by terrorists for a year
• The nun who loved the poor and the weak until the end of her days
• The watchmaker’s daughter who survived captivity during World War 2
• The seamstress who fought for her rights and launched a movement
• The doctor healed by God who is making a difference in the lives of thousands
. . . and many more!
While many women choose to stay silent, there are those who speak up and stand out. Defying the conventions of society and culture, they blaze their own trail in their unique adventures of faith. Discover what it takes to be truly unstoppable.
This article first appeared on OMF Literature website.
Earlier published in the One Voice Magazine website on June 1, 2019.