It is two years into the Nazi occupation of Holland. Each month, Corrie ten Boom writes in The Hiding Place, the occupation grew harsher, the restrictions more numerous. Corrie’s brother Peter violates one of the latest edicts and plays the Dutch national anthem, the “Wilhelmus,” during a church service. He’s imprisoned for three months.
More Jews are being arrested and deported to the camps in the east. The numbers seeking help and hiding remain steady. One friend organizes the “burglary” of an identity card office, including a very real physical beating to convince the Germans. Corrie is later taken to a meeting of the Dutch underground, bicycling with a contact with tires wrapped in cloth to muffle the sound.
This is the line between amateur underground operations and the professionals. Corrie and the ten Booms will cross that line, and what results is the construction of a secret room in their home, a place that Jews and others can be temporarily hidden, the “hiding place” of the book’s title.
The risks for the family were enormous.
And yet they took them, with barely a second thought. As Corrie’s father would say, “In this household, God’s people are always welcome.” His meaning extended to God’s original chosen people, the Jews.
Was this courage? Foolhardiness? Recklessness?
Or was it an expression and extension of the ten Booms’ faith?
What does it mean to have that kind of reckless faith? Their lives, the lives of the extended family, the security of their church were all at great risk. And yet they continued.
We haven’t faced that kind of test of faith and courage here in the United States, but many say the time is coming. Christians in the Mideast have faced it and continue to face it. Globally, the number of persecutions of Christians has been increasing. We are likely fooling ourselves if we believe that something like this could never happen here.
I think about my children and my three grandsons. Would my faith be that reckless if I knew I would be putting them in jeopardy?
It’s a question I hope I never have to answer.
But I need to be prepared to answer it.
Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been reading and discussing The Hiding Place. To see more posts on this chapter, “The Secret Room,” please visit Jason at Connectingto Impact.
Photograph: Members of the Dutch underground in 1944, via Wikimedia Commons.