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.