Ten Boom Watch and Jewelry was written in Dutch and English on the large store front window. Clocks, watches, and jewelry glittered in the window. I smiled.
Corrie ten Boom was the daughter and granddaughter of a watch maker. In fact, Corrie was the first registered clock and watch maker in the Netherlands.
It Started with a Prayer Meeting
Three generations of watch making symbolized before me, but more importantly, three generations that loved Jesus Christ with all their hearts. In 1844, Corrie's grandfather, Willem was approached by a Messianic Jewish pastor who asked Willem to start a weekly prayer meeting for the Jewish people. That was strange because back then there was no nation of Israel and the Jews were scattered throughout the world. But, Willem began weekly prayer meetings for the Jewish people that continued for 100 years.
We were ushered in by our tour guide up some narrow steps to a charming living room. I felt like I had stepped back in time to the early twentieth century. Unlike other museums, we were able to sit down on the ten Boom furniture and listen to our guide.
Life in Amsterdam
Back to Haarlem
"Three aunts moved in to help our with children because Cor was sickly. It was a busy, happy household filled with laughter and company. Many Jewish friends were in and out of the ten Boom house," our guide continued to fill us in on life in the little house behind the watch shop. Corrie grew up, but, along with her sister, Betsy, did not marry like the other two siblings.
Corrie started girls clubs: a sewing club and a scouting club where she shared the Gospel clearly and led many of her girls to Christ. When Germany invaded Holland during World War II, Corrie, Betsy, Casper, and the rest of the ten Boom clan, joined the resistance. They housed Jewish people who were fleeing for their lives, until they could find another place to hide out in the country nearby.
"When danger arose," he said, "The guests had to escape quickly to the hiding place. They worked hard to get the drill down to 70 seconds. They also had to get rid of any evidence of their presence such as a teacup or extra hand of cards. Would you like to see the hiding place?"
The Hiding Place
We all nodded. I was so excited to see that place. I had read the book I had seen the movie. I followed the rest of the large group up the tiny staircase. It was Corrie's bedroom.
"They hired a contractor. He built the wall very thick and below the floor so the Nazis wouldn't find it." I looked at the large opening, noticing the thickness of the walls. "Here is the secret entrance." He paused dramatically and walked over to the linen closet, opening up the closet to reveal shelves of blankets, sheets, and towels. He lifted a pile of blankets on the bottom shelf and pushed open a secret door into the hiding place.
There were smiles on every face, but I felt tears streaming down mine. I respected this precious family who loved Jesus enough to keep God's Chosen People safe, risking their own lives.
Really this was a collision of worldviews. A wicked man led Germany with a wicked philosophy, doing everything in his power to make the Jewish people and every other "undesirable" feel debased, humiliated, and hopeless. But he could not overcome love, forgiveness, and mercy, that flow from the heart of God. Corrie and her family recognized the value and dignity of every life, especially the lives of those so precious to our Father God. When worldviews collide, God's love always wins.
"The night of the final raid came on an evening when Corrie was very sick. Betsy answered the door," our guide began. Though suspicious of the Dutch traitor, Betsy and Corrie gave him help anyway. He brought back the Gestapo, who arrested all three ten Booms, but those in the hiding place were not found. The soldiers chopped, hacked, and destroyed, but the little hiding place worked! Two days later, members of the resistance were able to get the five people out of the cramped little space and they all escaped to freedom.
A Bittersweet Ending
Corrie alone survived the concentration camp, being let out due to an administrative error. Betsy and Casper both died. She and her family made a conscious decision to forgive. Even the traitors that reported them were both written a letter from the family expressing forgiveness and the love of Christ. Corrie spent the rest of her life sharing her testimony and helping people learn to forgive.
"One of the traitors said that he only wished he could have seen more Jews killed, but the other repented and gave his heart to Christ. Both men were executed." We were on the roof now looking over the city of Haarlem. I wondered to myself if I could forgive someone who killed my family.
Forgiveness doesn't always mean that others will receive it. Jesus certainly knows that as He offers forgiveness to a lost world. As we ended the tour and I looked around at the donation box (the museum was free) and the books for sale, I felt tears again. One family had stood together with Jesus and made a difference. I want my family to stand together with Jesus and make a difference.
Would you like to learn more about Christian heroes in the 20th Century? You will love HIS Story of the 20th Century by Meredith Curtis. This Christ-centered history textbook explores the 20 Century decade-by-decade. You will study all the usual historic events, but you will also learn about Christian heroes that the Lord used in mighty ways. HIS Story of the 20th Century is available at Amazon. The E-book is available at PayHip or Currclick. Check it out!
Go and Change the World one life at a Time!
Merey (Meredith Ludwig Curtis)