Corrie ten Boom, the youngest of four children, was born on Apirl 15, 1892, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Her father, Casper ten Boom, was a watchmaker, and when Corrie was still a baby, the family moved to Haarlem where he inherited the family workshop. Her godly and loving parents reflected the love of the heavenly Father, and when Corrie was very young she accepted Jesus Christ as her Saviour and Lord. She witnessed for Him and prayed for the conversion of those in her neighborhood all through her childhood years.
The ten Boom family home above the watchshop at Barteljorisstraat 199 (called Beje, pronounced “bay-yay,” for short) had wide open doors to everybody and especially to those who were in need. Apart from Mr. and Mrs. ten Boom and the four children, the little home was shared by three aunts and later by succession of foster children.
Corrie became the first woman to be a licensed watchmaker in the Netherlands, but she always said that she never became an expert at it because she was constantly busy with the carrying out of many plans. There were, for example, the clubs she ran–for boys and girls and for mentally retarded children and adults–and a Christian girl scout movement which eventually was comprised of thousands of members throughout The Netherlands, Indonesia, and the Dutch Antilles.
In 1844 an unusual event for that time took place. Casper ten Boom’s grandfather started a prayer meeting in the Beje for the Jewish people. The ten Boom family loved the Jews, and when Casper ten Boom became involved in hiding and rescuing some of them during WWII, he replied, on being warned of the danger involved, “If I die in prison, it will be an honor to have given my life for God’s ancient people.” He did give his life for them. He and all his children were betrayed and arrested. He died, aged eighty-four, after ten days of imprisonment. Corrie and Betsie, her sister, were transported to Ravensbruck concentration camp where, after many privations in “the deepest hell that man can create” but with radiant testimony to the love of God, Betsie died in December 1944. Corrie was released a short time afterwards through a clerical error.
After her release, Corrie dedicated her life to telling others what she and Betsie had learned in Ravensbruck: “There is no pit so deep that the love of Christ is not deeper still.” Corrie brought this message to sixty-four countries during thirty-three years of travel. An important part of her message was that when God tells us to forgive our enemies, He gives us the strength and love with which to obey.
I first met Tante Corrie (“aunt” in Dutch) when she was in her seventies, and one of the things that greatly impressed me was her desire to get to know and serve the Lord Jesus better. She was willing to learn from old and young, rich and poor, intellectual and uneducated. Once while attending a funeral with her I saw her making copious notes of the message which a younger minister was giving. Later I became her coworker and traveled with her for a while. Her notebook was always handy. When in 1977 she made her home in California, one of the first things she did was to send for the large pile of notebooks which, one by one, had accompanied her through the years. How she enjoyed going through them. Through her magazine, The Hiding Place, she passed on to her prayer partners “clippings from her notebook” and shared some of the thousands of photographs which she had taken during her travels.
In 1978, Tanta Corrie’s very active life of speaking, writing, and making films was cut off overnight by a serious stroke which took her speaking, reading, and writing abilities. Successive strokes partially her, and then, confined her to bed in a very weak state at 90 years old; but still she radiated the love, peace, and victory of the Lord Jesus. Her joyful countenance greatly challenged and blessed all who saw it.
By Pamela Rosewell – Coworker of Corrie ten Boom