4 Things I Learned from Corrie Ten Boom

Five days ago (April 15) marked the 25th death anniversary of Dutch watchmaker and Christian Corrie ten Boom.

Though I have always been familiar with her story, I had not yet picked up her book until I heard a presentation on Corrie ten Boom’s life. I teach a church history class and had asked my students to choose a famous Christian to share about. One student chose Corrie Ten Boom, and the presentation sparked an interest; I knew it was time to turn my attention to her story.

The book, “Hiding Place” details Corrie’s family’s decision to hide Jews and help them escape during World War 2, as well as her and her sister’s eventual imprisonment in a concentration camp. I devoured the book in a few hours. Not only was her story of perseverance and faith in the midst of such evil riveting, but the wisdom she displayed also moved me.

Four lessons especially stuck with me, and I’d like to share them here.


“For now I was content to leave them in my father’s keeping.”

When Corrie was young, she was traveling one day with her father on the train. They were talking, and she asked him what a “sexsin” is—she had heard this word in a poem. At first, it seemed like her father was changing the subject when he asked her if she would carry his briefcase off the train for him. She replied that she couldn’t; it was too heavy.

Her father said he’d be happy to carry the briefcase for her, and went on to say that it was the same way with knowledge. Some knowledge was too heavy for her right now, and he added, “for now you must trust me to carry it for you”.

Young Corrie was perfectly happy and willing to let him do so. She recalled, “And I was satisfied. More than satisfied—wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions—for now I was content to leave them in my father’s keeping.”

Later in the book, Corrie referred to this story again. She saw something difficult and tragic at a concentration camp, and her sweet simple trust in her father all those years ago translated into a sweet simple trust in her Heavenly Father; she allowed her Heavenly Father to carry the too-heavy reality for her.

This is not about running away from an issue, or being in denial. This is about noticing our weakness or a limitation—something that somehow is just too much for us—and being able to let our Father carry it for us. It’s about us not taking control of an issue or dwelling on something too dark, too much, but instead saying that we are “content to leave them in [our] father’s keeping.” And to be at peace about it.


“Lord Jesus, I offer myself for Your people. In any way. Any place. Any time.” 

Corrie was delivering some work to a local doctor and his family, when in the middle of their conversation, the father had to run upstairs to put his children to bed. Somehow, in that rather run-of-the-mill moment, Corrie suddenly realizes the fragility of everything. In just a moment, a knock of the door could change everything and this sweet family could be taken away. The realization shook her, and her response was this prayer of abandonment: “Lord Jesus, I offer myself for Your people. In any way. Any place. Any time.”

Corrie was offering her life. This is faith. This is trust. This is utter dependence.

Are we willing to do this? Are we willing to respond to the frailty of our lives in surrender to God, in giving ourselves to Him and His purposes, with no agenda of our own? What amazes me is that Corrie’s surrender is unconditional. She says she will do it in any way, any place, and any time.

So many of us, myself included, want to offer ourselves to God, but we are tempted to put boundaries on it. We will say out loud: “I offer myself to You,” while in our heads we are pleading, “But please don’t send me there,” or “Please don’t ask me to give that up.” Corrie’s simple, frank prayer serves as an example to us all.


“Perhaps only when human effort had done its best and failed, would God’s power alone be free to work.

One of Corrie’s fellow workers in the underground (where they are helping to hide away Jewish families) had been captured even though they had taken all the necessary precautions. Corrie then realized that all human effort, all the trying-to-make-it-work, sometimes just doesn’t work.

Corrie wasn’t saying that there’s no need to work at all. If you’re doing something you have been called to, then put yourself into it wholly. But know that it doesn’t rest only on you. Put yourself to your work; do your best. And then trust that God is in this work He has called you to.

This reminds me of one of my favorite parts of Scripture. The disciples are fishing, but to no avail. They’ve worked all night and nothing has come of it. Jesus comes alongside them and basically says, “Why don’t you try it this way?”

I can imagine the fisherman disciples almost laughing at their carpenter Friend, forgetting for a second that He is Creator of all, Orchestrator of the Deep. I can almost imagine them smiling a little, thinking something like, “Thanks carpenter-man for the advice about how to fish, but let the professionals work.” But when they do it His way, when He is present in their work, they get more fish than they can handle. When they try to work on their own, they get nothing (Luke 5:1-8).

I don’t want to work, and try, and try-to-do as if I could accomplish on my own. I want God present in my work. I don’t want to do anything unless He’s behind it.


“The real sin lay in thinking that any power to help and transform came from me.” 

Corrie admitted she dealt with selfishness while living in the barracks among the other women at the camp. She hid the little bit of medicine they had. She wouldn’t give a blanket away; she would only lend it. She wanted her sister on the inside during roll-call.

She said these little things spread within her like a cancer. Corrie had kept hidden a copy of the Bible which she had used to teach regularly from to the ladies in her barracks, and realized that her selfishness was getting in the way of the efficacy of her teaching. “Was it coincidence that joy and power had imperceptibly drained from my ministry?” she asked. Where was her joy? Where was the power in her prayer and Bible teaching that she used to have?

She found comfort in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, about his thorn in the flesh, and how through our weakness, God’s strength is made perfect (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). That was where she exclaimed, “The real sin lay in thinking that any power to help and transform came from me.”

So finally, she gathered those ladies from her barracks together and confessed her selfishness. And that night, “real joy returned to my worship”. She admitted her weakness and humbled herself. And God got to work—bringing beauty and truth out of her repentance and honesty.

When we are weary in our ministry, when we are struggling through prayer and worship that is no longer real and authentic, we’ve got to get our head back on straight. We are not the ones who can cause transformation in people’s life. We are weak. And it is in that weakness, and in spite of that weakness, God is going to move and work and be glorified.

I recently led a group of teenage girls through a week of hurricane relief. There were many ways of helping, but our group was assigned to manual labor. Let’s just say that that isn’t strength of mine. I felt totally incapable, at a loss for what was expected of me. There was even one morning when I just wanted to stay in bed and call in sick because I was so paralyzed with fear about what I would face.

And then this thought came to my mind: When I am weak, He is strong. I got up out of bed, and I faced that day. It was tough at times, but in each moment, in each task I was scared to death of, I was provided for. And real work happened in that city and in our group among our girls. I saw with my own eyes what confessing your weakness can do. The power to transform doesn’t lie with me, no way. But I believe His name is powerful, and so He is the one I lift my eyes to.


Corrie’s story encourages me so much. She was a woman who stood courageously for her friends, her people, and her God. May her example embolden and energize us towards loving Jesus and others well.

The Day I Believed in Jesus and Broke My Dad’s Heart

Written By Chen Pei Fen, Singapore

“Look at what you’ve done by becoming a Christian! You’ve deserted the family tradition. Your father feels like a failure. He couldn’t keep the family together.”

My mother was upset. Her distress was obvious as she attempted to persuade me to forsake my newfound faith. My father, meanwhile, was quietly heartbroken. He hadn’t slept well for several days, because his daughter had chosen to abandon family tradition and follow a “foreign” God.

I was 15 and had just accepted Jesus Christ into my life. I had made this decision with great joy, knowing I had done something significant. But now, I found myself in a storm. It pained me to see my parents so sad and disappointed.

As my mother pressured me to change my mind, I felt like I had to choose between Jesus and my parents. If I wanted to obey my parents and avoid hurting them, then I would have to abandon my newfound faith. But could I not follow Him and still love my parents?


 Believing in the promise

I was born into a traditional Singaporean Chinese family. My parents are of Hakka descent, one of the main Chinese dialect groups. Like most Chinese families, we were brought up to worship Chinese deities. We also burned incense and offerings to our ancestors to provide for their needs in the afterlife.

When a person brought up in such traditions decides to become a Christian, he is seen not only as abandoning his traditional faith, but also betraying his heritage. He brings shame on his family and community by following a foreign religion and putting his loyalty in a foreign god.

But none of this seemed to matter when I was making up my mind to follow Christ. At that time, the only thing that concerned me was whether it made sense to believe in Jesus. I had been asking questions such as, “Who am I? What is my purpose in this world? Why is the world so messy, and is there a solution? What happens after I die?” Christianity seemed to have all the answers.

It all started when a Christian friend, Veronica, explained the Good News to me. She shared with me what she learnt in the Bible, invited me along to evangelistic events, and showed me verses like John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Although I had been asking questions about life, my own was going pretty well at the time. I had a loving family, was popular with my peers, and was doing well in both sports and studies. I didn’t feel that I needed God. While the answers that Christianity gave to my questions seemed reasonable, I didn’t see a need to make a personal commitment to follow Jesus.

But one evening, as I was lying on my bed, I just felt really empty. So I prayed, “God, if you are really God, can you please show me who you are?”

Soon after, on a Saturday afternoon, I was walking towards an ice cream store when a stranger stopped me. She asked if she could share the Good News with me. Trying to be polite, I agreed. By then, I had heard it so many times that I could even recite the verses. But something happened that day. When the woman shared John 3:16 with me, the verse cut straight to my heart.

At that moment, I believe, the Holy Spirit touched me, and the truth of John 3:16 went from my head to my heart. All of a sudden, I truly understood what the verse really meant. I saw that “the world” that God “so loved” included me. I felt the weight of sin and recognized how terrible a sinner I was, and how much I needed Jesus. I finally understood why He had to die on the cross for me and appreciated just how much God loved me.

As the truth hit me, I couldn’t stop crying. For the first time, I realized that I was a sinner. At the same time, I felt grateful for God’s offer of forgiveness. That day, I confessed my sins to Jesus and received Him as my personal Savior and Lord.

The joy I felt, however, soon gave way to a sense of trepidation. I thought about the implications of my decision, and immediately realized how my parents would feel and react. “What have I done?” I thought. “What will my parents say when they find out?”

But the woman assured me that being the first in my family to become a Christian was a significant spiritual event. She reminded me of how Paul and Silas, after being freed from prison by a miracle, reached out to the jailer (Acts 16:30–31). When he asked them, “What must I do to be saved?” they told him, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

Of course, Paul and Silas did not mean that the jailer’s family would be saved simply because he himself believed in God. Salvation comes through a personal, individual response to God; it cannot be “passed on” or inherited. However, the gospel can gain a foothold in the lives of a family through the first person to turn to Christ. It opens the door for the rest of the family to hear and see the gospel in action.

These verses gave me hope that one day my parents and siblings would also come to know God. I had the opportunity to become the first messenger, the first witness of the gospel to my family.

 But first, I had to face their objections.


Facing the challenge

For the first few months, I kept silent about my newfound faith. I didn’t dare tell my parents for fear of what could happen. I also didn’t dare go to church, but was sustained spiritually through constant prayer, reading the Bible, and regular meetings with Christian friends who taught me about God after school. Every morning, I spent time praying to God and reading the Bible, but hid it after I finished so that I would not be found out. The secret, however, didn’t last long.

One day, I forgot to put the Bible away and left it on the table. My father spotted it and recognized it. Being a traditional Chinese father, however, he did not confront me directly, but asked my mum to question me about it. Soon after, she sat me down and went straight to the point: “Why is there a Bible on your table?”

There was little else I could do but admit that I had become a Christian. My mum didn’t know what to say and could only shake her head in dismay. For the next few days, nothing happened. Both she and my dad kept quiet about the matter, but I felt the tension in the air. I knew that there would be more to come.

Days later, my father personally handed me a handwritten letter and left for work without saying a word. In it, he wrote of his disappointment and sadness at me becoming a Christian. He spoke of his failure as a father to keep the family together, and of the possible consequences of my actions. “How can we have two different gods in the same household?” he pointed out.

Having pledged our loyalty to one set of deities, my family believed that we would have peace, harmony, and security—everything that my parents desired for us. But now, by turning my back on what we worshiped and choosing to follow Jesus, I would anger the deities and put my family’s well-being at risk.

That same afternoon, my mother sat me down and followed up on the letter. This time she was visibly agitated. “Your father hasn’t been sleeping well,” she told me, her voice rising. “He’s very disturbed. He feels like a failure. Look at what you’ve done! You’ve not been a filial daughter—after all that we’ve done for you, is this how you repay us?”

I didn’t try to defend myself or argue with her, but just listened in silence. Perhaps mum was hoping to change my mind there and then, but since I didn’t respond, she gave up after a while. I went back to my room to think about what she said—and to seek God’s help.

“Heavenly Father,” I prayed with a heavy heart. “I’m so sad because of how this has affected my family, but please help me to stay strong in the faith. I know you are real, but I need strength to endure. What should I do?”

I faced a dilemma. I felt as if I was being asked to choose between God and my parents, yet both were important to me. My parents wanted me to give up this “foreign” God, yet I knew I couldn’t. At the same time, I didn’t want my parents to feel as if I was deserting them.

Jesus spoke about this challenge in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.”

Jesus wasn’t asking His disciples to hate their families in the literal sense. He was challenging them to weigh the cost of discipleship and ask themselves if they were ready to make Him the Lord of their lives. What Jesus was really asking was this: How far are you willing to go to follow me? Are you ready to put me before your family? Are you prepared to give up everything that you hold dear, including your life?

I now faced this challenge. How far was I willing to go to follow Jesus? Was I willing to face my parents’ displeasure for making Him Lord of my life? And how was I supposed to reconcile and “balance” my love for both Jesus and my parents?


Trusting in assurances

I was hoping to get specific instructions on how to answer my mum and dad and what to tell them. Instead, I received a simple directive from God: Be His witness.

The answer gave me great comfort. It was as if God was telling me that I had done the right thing in choosing to follow Him, and my mission now was to share my discovery with my family. I wasn’t being asked to choose between Jesus and my parents; I was being tasked to share Jesus’s love with them.

Luke 6:39 emphasizes the importance of us recognizing and understanding the truth ourselves before we seek to share it with others. Jesus said, “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” We cannot lead others in the right direction unless we are sure that the path we are taking is the correct one.

This verse gave me great encouragement. Now that I had found the truth—that only Jesus can save us—I could lead my family to this wonderful discovery. And the best way to do this was by loving and honoring my parents. Through my words and actions, I could show them Christ, the Lord and Savior of the world.


This is an excerpt from Discovery Series, Keeping the Faith: The Cost of Following Christ. Read the rest of Pei Fen’s story here.

What Silence Has To Say

Photo taken from Official Trailer

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


If you’re into movies that encourage, inspire, or even provoke, Silence may be the answer—if you hang in there and wait for the best parts to emerge.

Silence, a movie that Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese had reportedly worked on for over two decades, revolves around two Jesuit priests who were smuggled into 17th-century Japan just when it started its isolationist foreign policy. The priests, Father Rodrigues, played by Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), and Father Garupe, played by Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), were subjected to physical, emotional, and psychological torture alongside the “Kakure Kirishitans” (the underground Japanese Christians) over their faith—in scenes that take up much of the film’s 161 minutes.

The drawn-out, slow-paced narrative can be a turn-off for some, and was likely one of the reasons why the film did poorly at the box office. However, I would contend that the film is far from a bad one.

Garfield does a fantastic job expressing the emotional distress that Rodrigues goes through when the foundation of everything he believes in seems to slowly crumble. The character of Kichijiro (played by Yōsuke Kubozuka) is wonderfully written and complex. Kichijiro can be described as a strange blend between Judas and Peter who constantly challenges Rodrigues’ concepts of grace and forgiveness in the face of betrayal. The film has a lot of depth and is not afraid to ask tough questions that promise to keep viewers thinking (as it did to me).

As a Christian, I found myself pondering many of the theological questions that arose from the film. And I believe that is a good thing. Although I won’t attempt to answer many of these questions, several aspects of the movie encouraged me in my understanding of my own faith and belief.


Putting a Mentor on a Pedestal

We have a very human tendency to place a person on a pedestal. This seems especially true when it comes to spiritual mentors such as a pastor or church leader. The danger comes when we unwittingly equate this person with God; when that person fails—as humans tend to do—their actions can cause a crisis of faith.

This is exactly what happens to Rodrigues when he hears stories that his spiritual mentor, played by Liam Neeson, has publically rejected God in Japan and is working with the Japanese inquisitors to root out Christians. As a result, the Jesuit priest is left struggling with his faith in God.

Although it is a good thing to respect our leaders, we must be careful not to place them on par with, or even above God. We must make Him and His Word—and not the teachings or character of a fallible human being—the foundation of our faith.


The Struggles of Persecuted Christians

The film contains several horrific, heartbreaking scenes of martyrdom—along with inspiring scenes of believers showing steadfast faith even in their final moments, which moved me to tears. I was also struck by the complex, difficult decisions the Japanese Christians had to make under severe persecution.

A common tactic used by the inquisitors during those times was forcing Christians to step on a picture of Jesus. If they refused, the people in their village would be persecuted. Some decided to comply, but most stopped short when they were ordered to spit on the image.

As the leader of the persecuted Christians, Rodrigues’ dilemma was even more complex. Though he was prepared to die for his faith, the Japanese inquisitors threatened to kill members of his congregation if he refused to denounce his faith.

Those scenes were a stark reminder to me that even today, many of God’s followers continue to be forced to make such difficult decisions. Silence challenged me to pray more for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world, and to pray for strength, faith, and wisdom when faced with such adversity.


When God is Silent

The struggle that Rodrigues ultimately faced was the distance he felt from God in the midst of his terrible situation. He pleaded with God for guidance but was mostly met with silence. At the height of his psychological torture, Rodrigues cried out, “Christ is here. I just can’t hear him.”

Although we may not necessarily have to face the difficult circumstances portrayed in the movie, it is likely that many of us will go through a season of feeling distant from God. How we react to those challenges can have a strong impact on the rest of our lives. Will we lose heart thinking that God does not care for us in our plight? Will we be led astray by false teaching? Or will we, with God’s help, go through the trial and allow Him to mold us into the person He wants us to be?

I’m not saying this is easy to do, and the film shows how difficult those trials can be. But James 1:12 encourages us, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

The film’s unexpected, open ending left me with more questions than answers. And yet, Silence served to strengthen my theology and beliefs, as well as give me insight into the struggles faced by persecuted Christians.

ODJ: He Saw Something

June 22, 2016 

READ: Acts 7:54-60 

He told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honour at God’s right hand!” (v.56).

It was with gut-wrenching horror that I watched the video of 21 Coptic Christians being forced to kneel on a Libyan beach before being beheaded by terrorists. Later, I learned that a relative of some of the men who were killed said that many of them cried out the name of Jesus with their dying breath—a testimony to their faith in Him. Though the terrorists had hoped for the opposite effect, they had actually strengthened the faith of the Coptic Church by proving that even imminent death couldn’t snatch away their brothers’ love for Christ!

This story of modern-day martyrs mirrors the story of early martyrs like Stephen. He bravely stood before the Sanhedrin (Acts 7:54)—men who wanted to kill him and who were directly responsible for the death of Jesus (Matthew 26:59). Stephen could have kept his mouth shut and maybe made it through with a beating or even a warning. But instead, he testified that he saw Christ standing at the “right hand” of the Father (Acts 7:56). Given how dangerous Stephen’s situation was, this suggests that he truly saw an amazing sight that day!

The story of Stephen is mirrored by the story of many other martyrs over the centuries who have chosen to die rather than renounce their faith in Christ. They, like Stephen, must have ‘seen something’ in Jesus and the Scriptures that led them to give up their lives. I’m encouraged by this fact: they felt so convinced of the Lord’s resurrection that they chose to die rather than recant.

But this challenges me as well: Have I ‘seen something’ worth living and dying for? Something that even in the face of death, I would never take back? I hope and pray that should that day come, the answer is a resounding yes!

—Peter Chin

365-day plan: John 4:43-54

Read Hebrews 11:35-38 for a powerful description of prophets and martyrs who gave up their lives for their faith in God. 
Have you ever been challenged to reject or at least be silent about your faith in Jesus? How did you respond? Have you seen something so true that you would be willing to live or die for it? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)