Fleas and Lice a Blessing? Overcoming Hate Through Christ

Corrie ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom – Holocaust Concentration Camp Survivor,  Humble Heroine, Vessel of Forgiveness

Cornelia Arnolda Johanna “Corrie” ten Boom was born April 15, 1892 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, near Haarlem. Carrie’s grandfather, William ten Boom, opened a watchmaker’s shop in Haarlem 1837, and led prayer services to pray specifically for Jewish people who were being discriminated against in Europe. William passed this faith tradition onto his son, Casper ten Boom, Corrie’s father, who inherited the watchmaker shop.

Mr. Casper ten Boom
Ten boom Family

 

 

 

Ten boom Legacy of Faith in Christ

Mrs. Cornelia ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom House — Kevin & AmandaThe ten Boom family (Casper and Cornelia ten Boom, Corrie, her brother Willem, and two sisters, Nollie and Betsie) lived on the second floor, above the watchmaker shop. Mrs. ten Boom nurtured her children’s faith, teaching them to love and obey Christ. Mother ten Boom made a ‘blessing box,’ instructing her children and their friends to drop coins into the box to help the poor and missionaries. And as her children matured, she instructed them how to lead Bible studies for their neighbors. Corrie’s mother died in 1921. Throughout the years (1920s – 1930s), the ten Booms cared for many refugee children and orphans.

World War II

On September 1, 1939, World War II began. And in less than two years, on May 10, 1940, the German army invaded the Netherlands and within five days of fighting, the Nazis occupied the Netherlands.

Corrie, who was 48 at the time, helped her family turn their home into a safe haven (Hiding Place) for people trying to escape Nazi tyranny. Mr. ten Boom and his daughters, Betsie and Corrie, risked their lives hiding Jews and others in their home for a few years. The ten Boom family helped save the lives of an estimated 800 Jews and other refugees.

Large wall clocks camouflaged a false wall that opened up to a secret hiding place. The secret room was only about two feet deep by eight feet long, but could hold six or seven people. The hideout was very successful, but on February 28, 1944, a traitor led the German police to the ‘hiding place’ and thirty people, including several of the ten Boom family were arrested.

Betsie and Corrie

Corrie, her father, and her sister, Betsie, were taken to Scheveningen Prison, where Corrie’s dad died ten days later.

Ten months later, Corrie and Betsi were shuttled to Ravensbruck concentration camp near Berlin, the largest camp for women in German-controlled regions. Thousands of women were executed there.

The living conditions were harsh, with little food and severe discipline. Betsie and Corrie led secret prayer services in their barracks, using a smuggled Bible.                                                                    The following story is one of my favorite ‘faith over fear’ narratives. 

Ravensbruck Concentration Camp Women’s Barracks

Fleas and Lice a Blessing?

When Corrie and Betsie entered the filthy flea invested Ravensbruck prison and they were starving, they cried out to the Lord to help them.

While laying on a bunk with several other women, Betsi turned to Corrie and shared these words, “Give thanks in all circumstances.” Corrie asked, “What on earth can we give thanks for?” Betsie said, “We are together in prison and we have a Bible that wasn’t confiscated.”

Then, Betsie prayed, “And thank you, Lord, for the fleas.” Corrie told her sister that she could never give thanks for fleas, but Betsie reminded her that it is God’s will to give thanks in all circumstances.

Betsie Ten Boom and the Key to Making a Lasting Impression
Betsie ten Boom

While lying on their flea-and lice-infested beds, they gave thanks for the fleas. After several weeks passed, they noticed that the soldiers rarely came into their barracks. Initially, Betsie and Corrie did not know why, but it allowed them time to share the love of Jesus with other women. One day, Betsie asked a supervisor to come to the barracks for assistance. Betsie told Corrie, “‘The supervisor wouldn’t step through the door and neither would the other guards. And you know why?’ Betsie boasted of their unusual blessing: ‘Because of the fleas!’ That’s what the supervisor said, ‘That place is crawling with fleas!’”

On December 16, 1944, Betsie died at Ravensbruck of starvation and lack of medical care. Corrie recalled Betsie’s last words:

“… (we) must tell them what we have learned here. We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still. They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here.”

Two weeks after Betsie’s death, Corrie was ‘mysteriously’ released from the prison due to a “clerical error.” Corrie always referred to this as a miracle. Shortly after her release, all of the other women in her age group at Ravensbruck were executed. 

Remembering her sister’s last words to go and tell, “there is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still,” Corrie spent the rest of her life sharing their story and the gospel of Christ and his forgiveness around the world. During one of her speaking engagements, she recognized one of the guards who had cruelly mistreated her, Betsi, and the other prisoners.

Corrie Retells Meeting Her Enemy

corrie ten boom - The Tiny TwigIt was in a church in Munich that I saw him, a balding heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken, moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear.

The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. There were never questions after a talk in Germany in 1947. People stood up in silence, in silence collected their wraps, in silence left the room.

And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones.

It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!

Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland; this man had been a guard at Ravensbrück concentration camp where we were sent.

My Memes of Corrie ten Boom's Quotes » The Faithful WandererNow he was in front of me, hand thrust out: “A fine message, fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!”

And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course–how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?

But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. It was the first time since my release that I had been face to face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.

“You mentioned Ravensbrück in your talk,” he was saying. “I was a guard in there.” No, he did not remember me.

“But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein”–again the hand came out–“will you forgive me?”

The Word For The Day • For if you forgive other people when they sin... |  Forgiveness quotes, Corrie ten boom quotes, WordsAnd I stood there–I whose sins had every day to be forgiven–and could not. Betsie had died in that place–could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

For I had to do it–I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses,” Jesus says, “neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality.

Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.

And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion–I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.

“Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently. “I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.”

And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart!”

It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives.

It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown.

“When we confess our sins,” I said, “God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever.”

Louie's Lair: LOVE, FORGIVENESS, AND BLESSINGIn our deepest pain and suffering, God reaches out to us with His love and compassion. How can I do less, to those who Jesus died for on Calvary. The only true enemy we have is satan. As Jesus died on the cross, His last words stick in my mind, every time I’m tempted to withhold forgiveness to someone who has hurt me. “Father, forgive them…” (Corrie ten Boom)

Inspired by Betsie’s example of selfless love and forgiveness amid extreme cruelty and persecution, Corrie established a post-war home for other camp survivors trying to recover from the horrors they had escaped. She went on to travel around the world to 64 countries as a missionary, preaching God’s forgiveness and the need for reconciliation.

Jay Hicks on Twitter | Inspirational words, Corrie ten boom quotes, Faith  quotesCorrie ten Boom died on her 91st birthday, April 15, 1983. She was buried at Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana, California.

 

 

You will find these stories and many other inspiring incidents from the life of Corrie ten Boom in her own book, The Hiding Place, released in 1971. And later, the book made into a film in 1975 by World Wide Pictures, Billy Graham Association. https://www.christianbook.com/the-hiding-place-corrie-ten-boom/9780553256697/pd/56696?event=ESRCG

Other Favorite Resources:

Tramp For The LORD, https://www.christianbook.com/tramp-story-begins-where-hiding-place/corrie-ten-boom/9780875089867/pd/089867?event=AAI

Torchlighters DVD, The Corrie ten Boom Story: https://www.christianbook.com/torchlighters-series-corrie-ten-boom-story/pd/015385 and for other Torchlighter resources for kids: https://torchlighters.org/

Does God allow rape?

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.Revelation 21:4

Personal testimony written by Joy Pedrow.  Used by permission*

 As a victim of rape, I thought the rape was my fault. I did not fully understand that I was experiencing the result of sin until years later. No matter the reason for the rape, it still wounded me deeply. Because of my hurt and pain, I often wondered why God would allow His children to suffer.

my-tearsDuring the months following my abuse, God felt closer than ever before. He never moved. When I cried out in agony, He was by my side. When I prayed with tears streaming down my cheeks, He was there. When I begged Him to take away the pain, He held my hand.

He was there.

Right beside me, holding my hand, and helping me find healing. He was there and He knew this would happen. Even David knew that God was present and active in his life.

 “For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began Psalm 139:13-16

 I never would wish the pain I experienced on anyone, but you know what, God used that pain for His good and taught me a few valuable lessons.

First of all, God revealed to me that I did not know Him. I did not know the gospel. I thought I had to work for my salvation. I did not know about Grace. I did not know that I could experience God’s love in an intimate way. I thought God was a big guy up in the sky, telling me what to do, but never telling me why.

God used rape to bring me to my knees, see my need for Him, and fully surrender my life to Christ.

Secondly, God constantly uses my story for His glory. My ministry is built on authenticity and vulnerability. God gave me a story and I share it with the world, because sharing my story brings others freedom.

I experienced pain, but God has redeemed every single tear I cried.

Sin is ugly.

Pain is ugly.

Rape is ugly.

But God is beautiful.

Redemption is beautiful.

YOU are beautiful.

God may allow rape, but He is not distant, uncaring or uninvolved. If you are a victim, He is painfully aware of your suffering. I believe that night I was raped, that God was in the room. He was standing, angry, and pacing. He was MAD.

God HATES rape and will punish those who commit that sin. Read what His Word says about sexual sin:

“In this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 4:6-8

 I believe that Jesus was there too. He was just as angry. Jesus felt the pain I was feeling. At that moment, the sin of the man who was hurting me was the sin that Jesus paid the price for on the cross. The immense pain I was experiencing as a result of sin was the same immense pain Jesus felt on the cross as the result of sin.

We are not alone in our suffering.

Good news, one day Jesus will bring suffering to an end.

You can choose to blame God for rape, since He allows suffering to happen, or you can blame sin. But if you choose to blame God, remember that He gave up His one and only Son for YOU. Do not place blame somewhere other than where it rightly belongs. We can choose to feel angry at God, or we can turn to Him for peace, comfort and healing. Does anger really help us find healing anyway?

God was present then and God is here now, ready to welcome you home, ready to love you and ready to help you find healing. In the midst of pain, choose to run to Him, instead of from Him, and trust in His perfect love.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed awayRevelation 21:4.

 ______________

 About Joy Pedrow

joy-pedrow*Joy Pedrow is a second year student, pursuing a Masters of Art in Christian Education degree in women’s ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary. To know more about Joy, please visit JoyPedrow.com http://joypedrow.com/, where she points women to Christ so he can bring them healing from addiction and freedom from shame.

*Joy’s testimony was first posted by Sue Edwards on Thu, 01/19/2017. Follow this link for the original blog entry on Engage, a Ministry of Bible.org, posted by Dr. Sue Edwards.   http://blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_edwards/does_god_allow_rape

sue-edwardsDr. Sue Edwards is Assistant Professor of Christian Education (Specialization: Women’s Studies) at Dallas Theological Seminary and holds degrees from Trinity University, DTS, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is the author of New Doors in Ministry to Women, A Fresh Model for Transforming Your Church, Campus, or Mission Field and Women’s Retreats, A Creative Planning Guide. She has 30 years experience in Bible teaching, directing women’s ministry, retreat and conference speaking, training teams and teachers, and writing curriculum. Married to David for 34 years, she especially enjoys extended family gatherings and romping with her four grandchildren.

Some of my favorite quotes from Joy

When I cried out in agony, He (God) was by my side. When I prayed with tears streaming down my cheeks, He was there. When I begged Him to take away the pain, He held my hand.

 I never would wish the pain I experienced on anyone, but you know what, God used that pain for His good and taught me a few valuable lessons.

 I experienced pain, but God has redeemed every single tear I cried. 

 Holding His Hand

Only God knows the pain we will suffer while living on Earth. I can’t imagine knowing in advance the pain and suffering my children would incur. And if I did, I would do everything humanly possible to prevent each one.

God did know, and planned for His Son to suffer and die on the cross, to redeem the entire world from the power of sin and death. I cannot fathom this at all! However, I know this is true because I have received the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus by faith. Christ’s great and amazing love for me is what takes me through each painful occurrence, with the assurance that He is always with me. Praise be to our LORD and Savior.

 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16.

If you have experienced rape or any other type of severe suffering, I want you to know God desires to hold your hand and lead you to complete healing and wholeness. Like Joy, prior to her rape, you may not know Jesus as your Savior. If not, I pray that you will receive Him now. Please click on this link: https://holdinghishand.org/receive-jesus/

I encourage you to share your pain with a trustworthy Christian (friend, pastor, counselor). God places people in our lives to love and support us when we need them the most. Joy shares her personal journey of healing from sexual abuse on her website at: http://joypedrow.com/2017/01/how-to-heal-from-sexual-abuse/

“You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book” Psalm 56:8.

Letting go and Holding an Enemy’s Hand

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).

While vacationing in Michigan with my husband Jeff, we purposely arranged to meet and talk with two amazing men. What makes these men so amazing is their unlikely friendship following some major turn of events in their lives. Here’s their story, as reported by Steve Hartman, CBS News April 15, 2016*.

Andrew CollinsAndrew Collins, a former Benton Harbor, Michigan police officer falsely arrested Jameel Mcgee in 2005 for dealing drugs. Jameel was sentenced to prison.

*”It was all made up,” said McGee. Of course, a lot of accused men make that claim, but not many arresting officers agree.

Andrew Collins served time for a number of crimes, including framing Jameel McGee for selling drugs

“I falsified the report,” former Benton Harbor police officer Andrew Collins admitted.

“Basically, at the start of that day, I was going to make sure I had another drug arrest.” And in the end, he put an innocent guy in jail.

“I lost everything,” McGeee said. “My only goal was to seek him when I got home and to hurt him.”

Eventually, that crooked cop was caught, and served a year and a half for falsifying many police reports, planting drugs and stealing. Of course McGee was exonerated, but he still spent four years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Today both men are back in Benton Harbor, which is a small town. Maybe a little too small.

Andrew and JameelLast year, by sheer coincidence, they both ended up at faith-based employment agency Mosaic, where they now work side by side in the same café. And it was in those cramped quarters that the bad cop and the wrongfully accused had no choice but to have it out.

After they both served time, Jameel and Andrew now work side by side in a cafe

“I said, ‘Honestly, I have no explanation, all I can do is say I’m sorry,'” Collins explained.

McGee says that was all it took. “That was pretty much what I needed to hear.”

Today they’re not only cordial, they’re friends. Such close friends, not long ago McGee actually told Collins he loved him.

Jameel and Andrew“And I just started weeping because he doesn’t owe me that. I don’t deserve that,” Collins said.

But he didn’t forgive just for his sake, even for Collins’. “For our sake,” McGee said. “Not just us, but for our sake.”

McGee went on to CBS News about his Christian faith, and his hope for a kinder mankind. He wants to be an example — so now he and Collins give speeches together about the importance of forgiveness and redemption.

And clearly, if these two guys from the coffee shop can set aside their bitter grounds, what’s our excuse?

Our Meeting

Us with Andrew and JameelJeff and I sat across from Andrew and Jameel in the Mosaic Café as they reiterated their story of forgiveness and redemption.

Andrew shared he had been raised as a Christian but he had not fully trusted his life to Christ until he came to the end of himself through this journey.

Jameel clearly identified the need to “hold onto the hand of Jesus” during his four years behind bars, and now testifies to the power of God’s grace and forgiveness in his own life which ultimately led him to forgive Andrew.

Andrew told us that the Mosaic Café ministry gave him a place to not only earn a paycheck, but more importantly has allowed him to give back to the community where his corrupt lifestyle hurt so many people.

“So how did you two reconcile?” I asked.

Jameel told us that although he was extremely sad that he had missed out on four years of his son’s life while imprisoned, he was sincerely grateful for God’s intervention in his life, which had been heading down a one-way street to destruction.

After returning to Benton Harbor, Jameel was referred to the Mosaic Café ministry and was told that he would be mentored by Andrew Collins. His initial reaction: “What? No way am I going to hook up with this dude…he’s the one who sent me to prison.” But after meeting Andrew face to face, he felt God’s forgiveness fill his heart as they shook hands. Andrew admitted, he hadn’t recognized Jameel’s name when given his new mentorship assignment, but quickly realized this was the man he falsely accused and sent to prison.

Andrew told us that at first he didn’t think this would work out, and wouldn’t blame Jameel for refusing to be paired up with him. I (Charmé) believe the Holy Spirit began His work by softening Jameel’s heart when Andrew asked him “What can I do to make this up to you? I’m so sorry for everything I put you through.” Jameel said “That’s all I need!”

The two men now serve together in the Christian Mosaic Café and bring the light and the love of Jesus to others who walk through the doors of this little town café.

While waiting for Andrew to join us at our table, I overheard Andrew sharing words of hope and encouragement to a man who had just sat down at the counter to order some coffee.

Andrew and Jameel Mosaic CafeGod is opening new doors for Jameel and Andrew to tell their story of forgiveness and redemption to schools, churches, and other organizations across the country.

Holding His Hand

It’s easier said than done…to love our enemies and pray for them. And it’s nearly impossible without first holding the hand of Jesus. Whenever I think of people who have hurt me, and those I have hurt, it helps me to let go of past wounds by recalling these last words of Jesus spoken from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

When we hold onto bitterness toward another person (who was created in the image of God), we soon become imprisoned to our own sin. We forfeit true inner peace with God and with the person we refuse to forgive.

I am thankful to have met Andrew and Jameel, who truly live out the love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness of Jesus.