The Nazis arrested Corrie and the rest of the ten Boom family in Febuary 1944. Ten days after their arrest her father died. Among his last words to his family were words from Psalm 119: "You are my hiding place and my shield: I hope in your Word..." For four months Corrie was kept in solitary confinement. Eventually Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to the notorious Ravensbruck concentration camp.
While Corrie believed in God and lived for Him, this experience tried and tested her faith to the core. As Corrie fought for the extra blanket and the crumbs of food, Betsie put other people’s needs first. While Corrie maneuvered herself to the inside of the morning roll call to be out of the bone-chilling wind, Betsie remained self-sacrificing. Even when Betsie was cruelly beaten for not working fast enough she continued to pray for the heartless guards. Betsie even prayed for Jan Vogel the informant that turned them over to the Nazis.
Corrie was filled with hatred for him. He caused her father to die and the rest of the family to go through horrible suffering. How could she ever forgive him or pray for that devil? Corrie knew in her heart that Betsie was right. Corrie hated herself for being so filled with hatred. Corrie knew that when she did the right thing, even when she did not want to do them, her heart often caught up with the actions. She did not believe it would work in this case, but she prayed for him anyway. That night, for the first time since she had learned the betrayer’s identity, she slept without bitterness or anger. This was a very healing experience for her. Betsie and Corrie ministered hope and encouragement to the other prisoners.
Betsie died in the concentration camp. Some of her last words to Corrie were, "...We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still." Just a few days later Corrie’s name was called. She whispered a prayer and braced herself for the worst. For some unknown reason the Nazis released her. Miraculously a clerical “error” brought her name up for release. The next week all the women her age in the camp were killed.
When the war ended Corrie opened rehabilitation centers for survivors of the Holocaust. She saw that it was those who were able to forgive who were best able to rebuild their lives. Corrie traveled to more than sixty countries sharing her experience of God’s power to forgive. After a speaking engagement in Germany her testimony was put to the ultimate test. She had just finished speaking about God’s power to forgive and quoting God’s promise in Micah 7:19, “He will take us back in love; He will cover up our iniquities, You will hurl all our sins into the depths of the sea” when she was approached by one of the meanest guards from Ravensbruck.
Although the heavy, balding man was wearing a grey overcoat all she could see in her mind was a flash back of him wearing the Nazi uniform watching her and Betsie walking before him naked. She remembered this man watching them shower. She remembered seeing Betsie’s bones protruding out, covered by a thin layer of skin. She remembered how cruel he had been to people and how he had participated in their murders. He reached out his hand to her and said that he had also been at Ravensbruck and that he had asked God to forgive him for the horrendous things he had done, that he had repented of his actions, that he knew God had forgiven him, but that he would like to hear it from her lips as well.
Corrie’s blood seemed to freeze; she could not move. She was unable to forgive, she was unable to move her hand towards his. He again reached out his hand. “Can you forgive me?” How could she? Could all that happened in that camp be erased just like that? She wrestled for a few seconds, which felt like hours. She knew it was the right thing to forgive. She knew that the angry, vengeful thoughts that boiled through her were not from God. This was the most difficult thing she was ever called to do.
She prayed for God to help her. She knew that forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. She still could not move. If God could forgive him so could she. She prayed again confessing to God that she did not have the power to forgive. She cried out to him from her heart to give her His forgiveness. She mechanically reached out her arm.
Then as their hands touched a current seemed to flow down her arm to him, a warm, healing love sprang up in her heart like she never experienced before in her life. She was overwhelmed. With tears in her eyes she told this former enemy that she had forgiven him. Corrie realized that when God gives the command to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.
Corrie believed that forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hate. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness. Corrie said that, "Forgiveness is setting the prisoner free, only to find out that the prisoner was me."
Originally from: Jewish Discoveries by Jeff Zaremsky, pages 47-50, which contains a total of 22 fascinating chapters of biblical history and lessons plus 25 rich Jewish tradition sections, and 27 powerful testimonies, with over 40 beautifully rendered professional works of art all on over 300 jam packed pages. You can own this treasure by visiting www.Jewishheritage.net
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