“Don’t HATE, Corrie!” Betsie said.
It was November, 1944, and Corrie was stunned by the look in Betsie’s eyes, full of love and compassion, even for the Nazi guard who was beating Betsie unmercifully.
Corrie ten Boom, younger than her beloved sister Betsie by nine years, could not stand by and watch any longer. She would never forget the hate on that Nazi woman’s face as she whipped Betsie violently, again and again. Where did such hate come from?
Suddenly, Corrie knew the answer too well, seeing this latest injustice toward someone she loved. Hate, even rage, rose up like gall in her own heart, until she was close to choking on it.
Corrie and Betsie had grown up in a household of love and compassion, kindness, and faith in God. Hate was an enemy they had never met until now. How would these two amazing women deal with a world that seemed bent on hate?
April 15th marks TWO anniversaries for a remarkable and beloved, Dutch watchmaker and Nazi holocaust survivor, Corrie ten Boom. Born that spring date in Haarlem, Holland (The Netherlands), she would step into eternity on her 91st birthday.
Remembering Corrie ten Boom [April 15, 1892 — April 15, 1983]
Years ago, writer Linda Ellis’ profound poem, “The Dash,” shared the message, that the dates of a person’s birth and death are not as important as how that person spends the DASH in between. It’s hard to think of many who spent their “dash” as well as Corrie ten Boom, whose life touched and continues to bring hope and encouragement to many, all around the world!
Corrie’s autobiographical book, “The Hiding Place,” written with Elizabeth and John Sherrill, was the basis for this stage play, “Ten Boom the Musical.” Her book became a major motion picture in 1978, sharing the powerful true story of Corrie and her family during the Nazi occupation of Holland. Her “dash” included life in a loving Christian family that would later risk their lives to hide Jewish people from Nazi persecution and death. The family’s work with the Dutch Resistance finally led to imprisonment, where many of them died. Their story tells of a great love, courage, and unflinching faith in God. From a quiet life to unexpected intrigue, great pain and ultimate victory, Corrie’s experience has encouraged millions all over the world through her speaking and her many books.
If Corrie was alive today, and could see what’s happening in our nation and our world, what would she say to us now? She had survived three concentration camps during a devastating World War that took the lives of an estimated 50 to 80 million people, military and civilian. Six million of those were Jewish people—killed simply for being Jews! HATE did that, and Corrie had seen the enemy up close and personal. And yet, I believe her message for us would include a loving warning, like the one given to Corrie herself by her sister Betsie, even about the Nazis…“Don’t Hate!”
It was a harsh winter in Germany, in 1944. Corrie, Betsie and hundreds of others were forced into hard labor at Ravensbruck prison, a Nazi death camp for women. The sixteen-hour days of back-breaking work, with little to eat, were literally killing many of the women. Betsie, born with pernicious anemia, grew weaker by the day. Seeing her collapse to the ground, Corrie ran to Betsie’s aide, only to be pushed violently aside by a cruel matron others called “the Snake.”
To Corrie’s mind, the beating was the last straw. A devoted Christian woman, but how could she continue to turn the other cheek1, while another person she loved was so cruelly mistreated? The brutality and deaths she had witnessed caused a deep bitterness to grow toward those who purposed to cause pain. Finally, Corrie just wanted to get her hands on that Nazi guard and pull her away from Betsie, but other prisoners held her back, fearing more retribution. Restrained now, by the arms of women who had as much reason to hate as she, Corrie’s tears boiled over.
Pray For Your Enemies
The beating had finally stopped. The Snake threatened and ordered all the women back to work. But, Corrie was still reeling from the scene, and rushed to comfort her now bleeding sister.
“I HATE THAT WOMAN…” Corrie stopped, puzzled by the look on Betsie’s face.
“Don’t hate, Corrie. Pray for that woman!” Betsie whispered. “THEY know how to hate and look what it’s done to THEM! You can’t protect me here, Corrie—you mustn’t try!”
“How do you pray for such monsters?” Corrie wept. She had trusted the Lord since she was five years old, and had never seen the face of evil, as here in this place. Jesus warned believers, “Be sober and vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”2
Here, behind the ominous, barbed-wire fences of Ravensbruck prison, the smell of death was all around her, choking her with a hatred she had never experienced. JOY had always defined her life. How was she to deal with such evil?
The True Hiding Place
Corrie remembered the words of the apostle Paul to believers… “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might… take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day; and, having done all, to stand.”3
Corrie was the strong one, feisty even; now she definitely wanted to make a stand. But is that what Paul was saying? She loved the Lord, and was often steadied by Betsie’s wise counsel, as they grew up. Betsie was right! They were here in this place of death to bring hope to others—not to hate—not even the Nazis.
What Would Corrie Do Today?
The Bible tells us that in the last days, people will be offended and there will be much division. Hearts will turn cold toward others, and hate will abound.4 That people will be as we see many becoming in our world today.5
In Luke 6, Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
On her knees, Corrie asked the Lord to forgive her and to give her the right heart toward these enemies. She prayed the infection of hatred in their hearts would heal also; that they would learn to love again. If our adversary, even the devil, can cause hate to eat at our souls, then we have already lost the battle. Hate steals any compassion we might have for another soul, while it steals our own peace.
God allowed Corrie and Betsie ten Boom to be imprisoned at Ravensbruck to bring light and hope, the love of God, to others suffering that horror. Even if it meant they themselves should die there! Betsie did die, but that miraculous event would encourage Corrie’s heart for the rest of her life as she traveled to more than 60 countries to tell others, “No pit is so deep that God’s love is not deeper still!
Putting Out Fires of Hatred
It seemed the whole world was on fire during World War 2. And it seems that fire of hatred and division is spreading across the globe in these times, when LOVE and compassion are desperately needed!
On this anniversary of Corrie ten Boom’s birth, and her going home to the Lord she loved, we pray the world will stop and consider LOVE, not hate!
I Peter 4:8 (AMP) “Above all, have fervent and unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. It overlooks unkindness, and seeks the best for others.“