Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Anniversary at The Hiding Place

From April 11-17 this past spring, I was given a beautiful gift from the Lord, an especially joyful short stay in Netherlands. The volunteer leaders of the Beje (The Hiding Place) in Haarlem, the Netherlands, invited me to attend celebrations planned around the date of the 25th anniversary of the death of Corrie ten Boom – April 15, 2008.

These included special events on April 15 which started with a prayer meeting in the very old house at Barteljorisstraat 19 (known as the Beje for short) at 10:30 AM. This was attended by the volunteers, mainly ladies, some of whom have worked there for twenty years, acting as guides to people who visit The Hiding Place, that secret room ready for service in June 1943 which did not betray its 6 inhabitants in the Nazi raid of February 1944. This year’s special prayer meeting was held to praise God for the way he has used the house for so many years. Thousands of people still visit it from many countries annually.

At 2:00 PM on the same afternoon at Haarlem’s Town Hall (built in 1630) not far from the Beje, an unusual meeting was held at the invitation of the Israeli Ambassador to the Netherlands. Casper ten Boom (Corrie’s father) and Betsie ten Boom (her sister) were to receive, posthumously, from the Israeli government and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the title of Righteous Among the Nations as two of “the few who helped Jews in the darkest time in their history.” Corrie herself had received this distinction in the nineteen sixties, and while she, I am sure, gave the honour back to the Lord and asked him to use it for his glory, I could not help but be glad that this special day had come. For instance, the room was full of people, most of whom I had not yet met… people like two of the three surviving children of Nollie van Woerden, Corrie’s sister. Many nieces, nephews and cousins were present too, some of whom I did know. Chamber music was part of the program and children from the Dreefschool which Father ten Boom had helped found, read poetry they had composed especially for the occasion. A Dutch man, elderly now, who had been in The Hiding Place on the night of the Nazi raid in 1944, was in attendance too and so were many other interesting individuals. How Corrie ten Boom would have enjoyed it all!

There was much more to this visit. The sun shone each day in often-rainy Holland, and masses of tulips, daffodils and flowering trees and shrubs heralded spring. I lived in the Netherlands for seven years and love the people and culture. I savored the fresh bread, cheese and yoghurt, saw good friends I have known for forty years, and made new ones. On a visit to the North Sea I filled my lungs deeply with the salty air and remembered a similar expanse of shining water not too far away – the English Channel which I had seen every day as a child growing up in Hastings, Sussex, England.

On the last evening of my short stay in the Netherlands, a dinner was held for the volunteers and I was invited too and given the opportunity and privilege of addressing the group.

This led to the best memory of all -- that of talking to a young woman, a server at the dinner, whom I will call Johanna. She told me she was not a believer but had listened to my talk and wanted to know more about the life of Corrie ten Boom and about mine. So I told her about forgiveness and how the Lord Jesus is a living person who will receive all who come to him. She said she envied me what I had found, but she did not have it…him. She also said she could never forgive because of many difficulties and cruel treatment earlier in her life. So I said that she could still find the Lord Jesus… all she had to do was to ask him to show himself to her…I told Johanna to ask him to do that -- sincerely, or insincerely… but to do it. Would you pray for her?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Under Construction

Updates coming soon to the new blog!