Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Hiding Place: The Unexpected Kindness of the Gospel

You’re imprisoned for months. You know your elderly father has died, only 10 days after the family was arrested. Your sister is somewhere in the same prison. A few relatives have been released. Your crime: hiding Jews from the Nazi occupation forces in Holland, and helping them escape.

The time arrives, months after your arrest, for your interrogation.

In The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom describes the walk to the Lieutenant’s office. She’s fearful – who wouldn’t be? – and she rehearses various possibilities in her mind. When she arrives, she’s greeted with polite kindness. The lieutenant who is to interrogate her builds a fire and offers tea. She is wary; she knows his kindness may be a strategy to get her to divulge information that would endanger others and seal her own fate.

Unexpectedly, she finds herself sharing the gospel with him. He sends her back to her cell. She’s afraid she had only created more trouble for herself.

When he calls her back, they talk. The Nazi lieutenant says he feels he’s in a prison himself. His family in Germany lives in a  town that has just been bombed, and he doesn’t know if they’re unharmed or not. He is weighed down by the things he has done, the acts he has committed on behalf of the occupation forces.

Corrie tells him that God’s light can shine into the darkest of places. He listens. When he sends her back to her cell, he tells her to walk slowly down one corridor.

She does exactly that. She sees a door has been left open. She knows in her heart what she will see as she passes by – her beloved sister Betsie. Betsie doesn’t see her; she has her back to the cell door. But others in the cell see Corrie. And Corrie can see just enough to see that the cell looks like a home.

For the first time in months, her spirits soar.

Later, when it’s time for the reading of her father’s will, the lieutenant decides to follow Dutch law, and assemble all the family members. Corrie not only gets to see and touch Betsie, but her brother Willem and his wife Nollie as well. She and Betsie are not released, but they do have this precious moment as a family.

This is a blessing, coming from the hands of a Nazi lieutenant who has done evil things for his country and government. Kindness and blessings can sometimes come from the most unexpected of places.

Who would think to share the gospel with an official who is not only going to interrogate you, but holds life and death authority over you? As Corrie describes it, she didn’t plan to do this; it simply happened. And the sharing of the gospel resulted in a small miracle.

All of us have faced times and situations where the sharing of the gospel would make us look foolish at best and potentially cause serious problems at worst. Perhaps we should remember the example of Corrie ten Boom, who blurted out the gospel unexpectedly, and received an unexpected blessing in return.

Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been reading The Hiding Place. To see more posts on this chapter, “The Lieutenant,” please visit Jason at Connecting to Impact.

Photograph by Anny Cecilia Walter via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.


David Rupert said...

Over and again in the acts of the apostles I read "the spirit came upon them and they went out speaking boldly.". I pray for boldness (with a touch of wisdom)

Maureen said...

Your posts have fostered my interest in this book, which I just ordered. Looking forward to reading it.

jasonS said...

Reminds me of Jesus' words that we don't need to worry what to say but the Spirit would provide the words when the moment came. This chapter is another beautiful reminder that even in the darkest times, God's mercies and grace are still present and working. Thank you, Glynn.