Corrie ten Boom is lying in bed, trying to recover from the flu. It is the morning of Feb. 28, 1944, in Haarlem in The Netherlands. In what seems a fevered dream, she keeps hearing a buzzing, then becomes aware of people rushing past her. Groggily, she realizes that the Jews hiding in her family’s shop and home are rushing to conceal themselves in the hidden room.
The Gestapo is at the door.
The day long feared, long worried over, longed hoped that it would never happen, is here.
Corrie, her sister Betsie, their elderly father, their other sister and brother, and a grandchild are arrested. People are still concealed in the hidden room.
Both Corrie and her sister are physically struck, several times, the Gestapo captain demanding to know where the secret room is. Neither sister admits there is such a room. They will not betray the people they’ve been trying to help.
A succession of fellow conspirators arrive at the shop to report the latest arrests, not realizing they are walking into the Gestapo’s arms. Corrie has to listen to each walk into arrest. Later at the police station, she learns that a total of 35 people have been arrested because of the raid on the ten Boom shop.
If you’ve ever read the classic Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, you’ll know how the history of Christianity can read like a long list of persecutions, imprisonments, massacres, murders, and torture. The early church knew it; various sects knew it; both Protestants and Catholics knew it during the extended period of the religious wars in Europe; missionaries have known it; the dwindling number of Christians in the Middle East know it; the church in China knows it. Christianity is not about the prosperity gospel; it is not about the “enlargement of territory” a la The Prayer of Jabez.
The church in Americas has been largely shielded from these trials in the last century. And it’s easy to forget that Christianity is not about worship styles and building programs.
Christianity is about the cross.
As she describes in The Hiding Place, Corrie had packed a prison bag, with her Bible, some clothes and toilet things, vitamins and aspirin. She had leaned it against the entrance to the concealed room. There it stayed, Corrie daring not to reach for it because it give away the room’s entrance. She left the bag to help protect the people hidden behind it.
Corrie and her family are taken away, her prison bag left behind. She has nothing with her, no medicines, no clothes, no Bible.
All she has is her faith and God.
The ten Booms now face the experience of the cross.
Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been reading The Hiding Place. To see more posts on this chapter, “The Raid,” please visit Jason at Connecting to Impact.
Photograph by Anne Lowe via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.