Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ten Boom family: an iron resolve for kindness

Corrie ten Boom, her sister Betsie and their father Casper spent decades of their lives perfecting one thing that many of us never master: the art of being kind to all people, no matter what. Then came World War II; their beautiful Holland became Nazi-occupied Holland. When the occupying army began persecuting, even refusing food ration cards to Jews, their quest to be kind to all people -- no matter what -- was now a dangerous calling.

They faced questions they may never have imagined. What if keeping your neighbor fed and housed put you on the wrong side of the law? What if it put the police on your trail? What if you could be arrested for it? What if you could be placed in a Nazi concentration camp for it? Would your kindness stop, or would it stay with you in prison? Would there come a point when you cut your losses and stopped the kindness? Or would it transform the cells and barracks of the prisons where you were confined? Would it extend even to the prison guards?

Reading about their lives makes us understand: the reason the family succeeded in being so unfailingly kind in the early, peaceful part of their lives was not because it was easy. Theirs was not simply a kindness of convenience, a politeness of habit that could be interrupted by a break in the comfortable pattern of their lives. It was because they already possessed that iron determination that nothing could turn their path away from loving their neighbors. For us, even a disrupted schedule or an annoying neighbor can sometimes be too much for us and throw off our resolve to be kind. Their lives shine a spotlight onto our own lives: How determined are we to be the kind and welcoming face in this world?

Casper and Betsie ten Boom paid with their lives, dying in the concentration camps. Corrie survived to tell their tale.

3 comments:

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

The world is certainly a better place with the Ten Boom's example to follow. I think most of us will never know how we will react if such a situation. But if we bail out in wimpy situations, well, then I guess we know now. Hopefully, we can do better in the future. They were not an average family in any sense of the word, even before the war. For example, the daughters didn't marry. But God had a purpose for them.

Martin LaBar said...

I recently re-read two of Corrie ten Boom's works. I'm glad I did.

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi there

PS - I know what you mean; I wish I could match their example more often.

Martin - the only one that I keep re-reading is The Hiding Place. It holds up to re-reading very well. Ironically, the introduction in my copy seems far more out-of-date than the actual book. From the sound of the introduction, it was intended to be the other way around.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF