Saturday, August 17, 2019

Corrie ten Boom

Below are some random tidbits associated with Corrie ten Boom.

First a disclaimer:

All this is based on what Corrie ten Boom has claimed in interviews and books. However I can't vouch for all her claims. I haven't studied her life in any depth. I've only watched some of her interviews and read some of her material.

As such, it's possible these facts are incorrect. If so, I doubt she was intentionally attempting to deceive or lie, but it's possible she misperceived events or the like.

For example, I think Corrie has often told a story about seeing a Nazi prison guard at a post-war evangelistic meeting. She hated him for how he treated her and her older sister Betsie in their concentration camp. However she ended up forgiving him after he had asked for her forgiveness in light of becoming a Christian. At the same time, starting at approximately 51:30 in this video, Corrie tells what appears to be an almost identical story except it's a female nurse. To be fair, perhaps this truly happened to her with two different people on two different occasions.

Also, though Corrie was Dutch Reformed, she wasn't a theologian. In fact, as far as I know, she wasn't ever formally educated beyond secondary school, though apparently she did become the first female watchmaker in the Netherlands.

And she may have held theological beliefs I don't agree with (e.g. I've read she was premil).

All that said, and in no particular order:

1. Corrie ten Boom was born April 15, 1892 and died April 15, 1983. Apparently a popular Jewish conception (at least among Jews of the same generation) is that a righteous person is blessed to die on the same date they are born.

2. At the very same house in which Corrie ten Boom grew up, Corrie's great-grandfather Willem ten Boom started a regular prayer group and meeting to pray for the Jewish people in the year 1844. This lasted until Feb 28, 1944 when the ten Booms were betrayed by a Dutch collaborator and arrested by the Nazis. They were betrayed during a Bible study and prayer meeting in the same home a hundred years later.

3. Circa 1928. Corrie ten Boom's older brother Willem predicted the greatest of all "pogroms" against the Jewish people would arrive in their lifetimes. However a natural explanation is he could have done so simply based on the anti-Semitic Zeitgeist of the time. On the face of it, that seems obvious, but perhaps that's only in hindsight.

4. Bibles were forbidden in the concentration camps. Corrie ten Boom had a Bible, but she feared the Nazis would confiscate it. She prayed that God's angels would surround her and protect her so the Nazis wouldn't search her. The Nazis never searched her, though they searched the women in front of and behind Corrie. She said it was as if the Nazis didn't even see her. As if she was invisible to them. She was able to keep the Bible and read it out loud each day in their dormitory to the benefit of others in the concentration camp.

5. Corrie and her sister were left alone to read the Bible out loud to others in their dormitory. The Nazis checked other dormitories, but never theirs. Corrie later found it was because their dormitory was flea and lice infested and the Nazis feared getting fleas and lice from their dormitory.

6. I've mentioned the apparent miracle of the Davitamon bottle of oil which was used as medicine for Corrie's older sister Betsie and other women who needed it.

7. Shortly before her death in the concentration camp, Betsie predicted they would be released from the concentration camp before the year 1944 was out. Betsie died in the concentration camp, but Corrie was released about a week after Betsie's death, before the year was out. After the war, when Corrie revisited the concentration camp, Corrie found out she had been released on a fluke. A clerical error. And most all the other women at the camp who were around her age were sent to the gas chambers.

8. Corrie and Betsie were in the same concentration camp - the Ravensbruck concentration camp. Betsie would die in Ravensbruck in 1944, but before she died, Betsie told Corrie that God gave her a 3-fold vision:

a. First, they would found a home that they'll turn into a ministry and rehabilitation center in the Netherlands to minister to those affected by the Nazi occupation including Jews, Dutch collaborators, and the mentally impaired.

b. Second, they would have a concentration camp in Germany to use as a ministry for God's glory instead of evil.

c. Third, they would travel the world giving their testimony about how God helped them through it all.

Corrie thought her sister was delirious at the time. Dying.

However all 3 visions came to pass. Except that it was Corrie alone, not Betsie too, who accomplished all three. A rehab home was started in Bloemendaal, Netherlands, and is apparently still in operation today under the auspices of the Dutch Reformed Church. Darmstadt concentration camp was rented and re-purposed by Corrie with the help of the German Lutheran Church from 1946-1960. And Corrie spent most of the rest of her life traveling around the globe and speaking until she became too frail to do so.

It's possible Corrie tried to fulfill Betsie's visions after hearing about them in order to make Betsie's visions come true rather than because God truly gave Betsie these visions (though I suppose it's not necessarily mutually exclusive for God to have given Betsie visions which Corrie then tried to fulfill). However, on the face of it, re-purposing a concentration camp seems difficult to achieve even if one wanted to do so. Also, apparently Betsie described the colors and other features of the home/rehab center they would found so well that the owner of the home thought Corrie had already seen it on a prior occasion when Corrie hadn't ever been there before (starting at approximately 50 mins here).

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