Corrie ten Boom, author of the well-known book The Hiding Place, knew what it meant to suffer. She spent ten terrifying months in Germany’s brutal concentration camps—all for the crime of concealing Jews during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.
While Corrie was eventually released, her sister Betsie, as well as other family members, died. Corrie, along with siblings Nollie and Willem, survived the brutal ordeal and went home to the Netherlands.
Instead of harboring bitterness, Corrie determined to spend the rest of her life sharing the love and mercy of Jesus. In 1947, three years after her release, Corrie returned to Germany with the message that God forgives.
One night, when she had finished enthusiastically sharing how God casts our sins into the depths of the sea when we confess, she was shocked to see a former prison guard pressing his way through the crowd. Her blood turned cold as horrible memories came flooding back. She remembered this cruel man!
Finally standing in front of her, he thrust out his hand. “A fine message, fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!”
Corrie fumbled in her pocketbook rather than take his hand. He continued, telling Corrie he used to be a guard in the prison she spoke of and he had done many horrible things there. “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me . . . , but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein, . . . will you forgive me?” Again, his hand came out.1
Receiving God’s forgiveness
It seemed like an eternity to Corrie. Her emotions struggled inside of her. God’s forgiveness of her own sins was given on the condition that she would also forgive those who had wounded her. Breathing a prayer, she understood that forgiveness is not an emotion of the sinful heart but an act of the sanctified will. She offered her hand. “I forgive you, brother!” Corrie cried. “With all my heart!” For a long moment, the two grasped each other’s hands. Corrie later shared, “I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.”2
Corrie’s testimony reminds me of what is possible through Jesus. Our world is afflicted with hurt and pain, but Jesus did not fight battles as the world fights battles. His Word contains a radical message of love and forgiveness, encompassing both oppressor and oppressed, perpetrator and victim (Matt. 5:38–44; Luke 6:28–36).
Revealing God’s love
John 13:35 tells us, “ ‘By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another’ ” (NKJV). In Christ’s Object Lessons, we read, “The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love. The children of God are to manifest His glory. In their own life and character they are to reveal what the grace of God has done for them.”3
Tell me, pastor friends and leaders in ministry, is “ ‘who is my neighbor’ ” love sometimes difficult for you (Luke 10:25–37, NIV)? Is “ ‘for they know not what they do’ ” forgiveness sometimes a challenge for you (Luke 23:34, KJV)? Then ask, what has God’s grace done for me? How have I experienced His mercy in my own life?
The days ahead are not going to be easy. We need this spirit of grace and mercy as never before. As you read this edition of Ministry, it is our hope and prayer that you will experience God’s forgiveness afresh and embody His love abundantly for a world in need.
- Corrie ten Boom, “I’m Still Learning to Forgive,” in The “Guideposts” Pocket Book of Inspiration, ed. Norman Vincent Peale (Carmel, NY: Guideposts Associates, 1972), 22, 23.
- Ten Boom, “I’m Still Learning to Forgive,” 24.
- Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons (Battle Creek, MI: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1900), 415, 416.