Many people have sent me messages asking why I wrote Hiding Place. Am I Dutch? Did I have a personal reason behind it? Why did I write it?
I am not Dutch but the story of Hiding Place is powerful and needs told to a new generation. Having said that, it does have very personal meaning to me as well.
My personal story is a little long. I hope you don’t mind.
God worked through Corrie’s life and her holocaust experience to reach many people, but there was a particular woman I knew that God also reached through Corrie’s ministry. Her name was Geraldine.
Geraldine was adopted as a baby on the ‘underground-market’ (illegally). Her adoptive dad died young and her adoptive mother was an alcoholic and very abusive. In alcoholic rages she would torment Geraldine both physically and mentally. Even worse, she would bring home drunk men and allow them to rape Geraldine on a weekly basis. This went on for years; physical, sexual and emotional torment. She was, in many ways, in her own concentration camp.
By the time Geraldine was a teenager she left the house and lived on the streets by choice. For protection, she eventually got mixed up with a notorious biker gang at the time. She learned to survive and stay alive but she trusted no one and had much anger in heart.
As years went on, Geraldine eventually did get married, but neither of them were Christians. In fact, her view of Christianity was that God wanted nothing to do with her because she thought she was worthless.
Years later, after the birth of Geraldine’s second child, a friend shared the gospel message with her. This was the first time she had ever heard that God loved her and wanted a personal relationship with her. As a result, she, and her husband, gave their lives to the Lord.
However, Geraldine was still very emotionally damaged from her childhood. She had a lot of bitterness and emotional issues from her past. This caused a lot of inner turmoil and hindered her life in many ways.
Eventually, she read Corrie’s books, ‘The Hiding Place’ and ‘Tramp for the Lord’. In ‘Tramp for the Lord’ Corrie speaks about going back to Germany, after the war, in 1947, to share her testimony with refugees from holocaust camps. She said in her book that during this speaking engagement, one of the very guards showed up from Ravensbrück (the concentration camp she and her sister, Betsie, had been imprisoned). He had been known as one of the cruelest guards in the camp but now he was a broken man, in need, and he came to her.
Corrie said she felt anger and could not forgive him. So she prayed for God’s help to forgive this man. She went on to say that it was in that moment that the chains broke and she felt forgiveness and love for the very man who had tortured her, her sister and others. She wrote: “For a long moment we grasped each others hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.”.
It was at this moment of reading the book when the Spirit of God also fell upon Geraldine. Corrie’s story touched her very deeply; it was very intense for her in that moment. She felt the chains of her past breaking off. For the first time in her life she felt forgiveness and love for the very people that had caused her so much pain in her childhood.
Geraldine went on to work in prison ministry and also with people that were stuck in the occult. For a short stint, before her passing, she was also working with teens/youth. Many more lives were touched by God through Geraldine’s life.
So how does this relate to me? Well, Geraldine was my mother.
You see, Corrie’s legacy lived on through many people, but, for me, it was through my mother. Now my mother’s legacy lives on through her children and by connection so does Corrie’s. In fact, one might even say that had it not been for God working through Corrie’s life, the ministry of Promise Land might not be here today.
Corrie’s story has a very personal meaning to me and her ministry is still effecting others to this very day.
Also, if I might add..
In some ways, many of us will have our own moments when we are faced with our own ‘prison guard’ and we will have to choose– Forgiveness or Hatred?. Consider that moment on the cross, after being tortured and beaten wrongfully, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, For they know not what they do”. One thing God has taught us through His Son on the cross, is that forgiveness brings ‘true’ God-inspired love.
In both stories (Corrie’s and my mother’s) it also teaches us that forgiveness and change can begin with a willingness. That is to say, a desire and willingness for God to make those changes within us. In other words, a desire to forgive, even if I feel that I can’t. “Help me, Lord, to forgive and love as Jesus did on the cross. Help me to have Your love and compassion for people..Even unto my enemies.”
Hiding Place is a song based on the True Story of Corrie Ten-Boom, a modern-day ‘Hero of the Faith’.
The story takes place during WWII when Nazi Germany was on their way to conquering much of Europe. During this time, Corrie Ten-Boom and her family became key players in hiding many refugees and saving many Jews from imprisonment and death.
The ten-Boom’s built a secret room to avoid being caught during house-raids. The secret room was built in Corrie’s bedroom as a result of her room’s location in the house, allowing more time for the refugees to hide.
The ten-Boom family was eventually arrested and Corrie and Betsie(her sister) were sent to the notorious Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany on December 16, 1944, where Betsie died. Before she died she told Corrie, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”
Corrie was released on New Year’s Eve of December 1944. In the movie ‘The Hiding Place’, Corrie narrates the section on her release from camp, saying that she later learned that her release had been a clerical error. The women prisoners within her age were killed the week following her release. She said, “God does not have problems. Only plans.”
After the war, Corrie began her ministry, at first helping the survivors of the war and later traveling around the world as a speaker focusing her message on the Gospel and much emphasis on forgiveness.
She later shares in her book “Tramp for the Lord” that in 1947 the Lord sent her back to Germany to share His message. During her speaking engagement, one of the guards from Ravensbrück concentration camp, who had been so brutal to the prisoners, came to her now in need of her help. She admits that she could not find forgiveness for him, so she turned to God pleading for His help and love for this man.
God answered her prayers and In her own words: For a long moment we grasped each others hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.
She also wrote (in the same passage) that, in her post-war experience with other victims of Nazi brutality, it was those who were able to forgive who were best able to rebuild their lives.
To learn more about Corrie Ten-Boom and her family, please visit the Corrie ten boom foundation.