April 11th, 2020

Book 25 - 2018

Book 25: The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherrill - 241 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
As the Nazi madness swept across Europe, a quiet watchmaker's family in Holland risked everything for the sake of others, and for the love of Christ. Despite the danger and threat of discovery, the ten Boom family courageously offered shelter to persecuted Jews during the Nazi occupation of Holland. Then a trap brought about the family's arrest. Could God's love shine through, even in Ravensbruck?

My grandmother was born in Indonesia - or the Dutch East Indies as she called it - the daughter of Dutch parents. During World War II, while my grandfather, a merchant marine, was away at sea, she was captured and imprisoned by the Japanese along with her two small children. This story (my grandmother escaped, moved to Holland, had two more children (including my father) and then moved to Australia where she died five days shy of her 98th birthday) has defined our family and us successive generations. It is a source of inspiration to me and my siblings - when I am sick, down, struggling, I remember my Oma's existence in that camp, and I am motivated to go on.
Corrie ten Boom has a similar story to my grandmother's - caught helping Jews escape the German invasion of Holland, she find herself, her father and her sister (along with other relatives) in a concentration camp. She survives because of her faith in God.
I was leant this book by the husband of a friend, who also leant me a book last year (I really like when people lend you books - you have to think a lot about a person to decide the right book to lend them - its a very personal thing). I can only presume he decided I would like this book because Corrie is Dutch, the story set in Holland, and I suspect my friend's husband may have somehow found out (from one of my relatives at a recent Thanksgiving party I think) that I have a relative with a similar story. There are religious undertones to this book, but to my mind, they don't overpower the story. For Corrie, her faith, and more importantly the faith of her sister, is what keeps her alive, allows her to move on, to forgive. For my grandmother, she always told us that she dreamed of walking down the street with her mother - that image got her through the four long years in the camp. Upon her release, she discovered her mother had already passed away; she said she was glad she had not known this in the camp, otherwise she would have given up. What gives us strength, what keeps us going when we are facing the very worst, fascinates me. Corrie's strength was God, and the extraordinary perspective His stories gave her of her situation (the one with the fleas is amazing!). She in no way pushed her faith on others - rather when sharing her bible stories with her fellow inmates, she always invited other faiths to share their stories and words too, an acknowledgement that we find our strength, our faith, whatever, in different places. I wasn't expecting to be moved so much by this story, nor to need it so much when I did - my own current health issues made this book a timely reminder of something I once read that has always stayed with me: 'God only challenges you with that which He believes you are strong enough to handle'. I am religious only in the sense that I believe in God, I was raised a Catholic, went to Catholic school, and go to Church at Easter and Christmas. Faith comes in whatever form you need it; this book reminded me of that.

25 / 50 books. 50% done!

7863 / 15000 pages. 52% done!

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