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  • Writer's pictureAmy L. Sullivan

9 Lessons We Can Learn From Corrie ten Boom

When I hear of the young girl who lives in a camper, walks to a part-time job, and uses two weeks worth of wages to buy her brother’s school supplies, my throat thightens and my voice goes weird.


I think the girl’s devotion to her brother makes her a hero, and unlikely heroes surprise me. When I hear people speak of the girl, I nod my head and quickly busy myself by staring at the ground. The girl’s acts are simple, but her impact reaches far beyond a three inch spiral notebook and a graphing calculator.

Long ago, I gave up on the idea of heroes sporting capes and flying invisible planes (I still adore you and your fabulous boots and gold-plated headband, Wonder Woman), but average people who show guts? They surprise me. They make my skin go prickly and my eyes burn. They make me fidget and attempt to sit up straight, and then they make me uncomfortable.

Maybe I feel uncomfortable because I am not sure what to say when I hear a stories of such selflessness, but maybe I feel this way because unlikely heroes remind me of what we are all capable of.

Enter Corrie ten Boom.

If you know the name Corrie ten Boom, then you probably know that during World War II, Corrie and her family risked their lives by hiding people behind a fake wall in their home. They smuggled stolen ration cards. They helped Jews find safe houses, and they played a large part in the Underground Resistance Movement during a time in history when evil flourished.

Brave? Absolutely.

But what else can we learn from a woman who referred to herself as an “middle-aged spinster,” a woman who spent the majority of her life living in her childhood home, working in her father’s watch shop, and interacting with her neighbors?

As it turns out, quite a bit.

Here are nine lessons we can take away from Corrie ten Boom, an unlikely hero.

  1. Be the first. During the 1920’s, the world wasn’t exactly cheering for women in the workplace. However, when Corrie was twenty-eight-years old, she traveled to Switzerland, completed two watchmaking apprenticeships, and not long after, Corrie became the first licensed woman watchmaker in the Netherlands.

  2. Ordinary is better than grand. Corrie lived in the same house she was raised in. She helped care for her elderly aunts and her dying mother. She teased her sister. She adored her nephew. Corrie rode her bike. She prayed. She went to church. Her days were filled with ordinary tasks, and it was these ordinary tasks that helped her truly know her community and later, help her community.

  3. Stand up for the persecuted. Before hiding Jews and others persecuted by the Nazis in World War II, the Ten Boom family prayed for them. Before people with disabilities were seen as people of value, Corrie taught them. Before foster care was an organized system, the Ten Booms housed children.

  4. You aren’t too old. When Corrie was fifty years old, she became involved with Holland’s Underground Resistance, and when Corrie was fifty-one, the Ten Booms started helping people relocate and hiding people in their home.

How could we have guessed as we sat there—two middle-aged spinsters and an old man—that in the place of memories were about to be given adventures such as we had never dreamed of? —Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place
  1. Love children who aren’t yours. Before Corrie hid people in her room, the Ten Boom family took in missionary children. In 1925, there were a total of seven children living with them. Housing children in their home wasn’t enough. Corrie wanted to do more, and so she started Christian girls’ clubs.

  2. Let others lift you up. Corrie was like us. There were times when she struggled to pray, when she didn’t have the strength to pray, when she flat out didn’t want to pray. It was during these times when she relied on her sister, Betsie. Before Corrie and Betsie were sent to a concentration camp, Betsie prayed for German soliders. While cold, hungry, and sick at the camp, Betsie continued to pray.

  3. Forgive. Corrie forgave Jan Vogel, the man who revealed how her family was helping others to the Gestapo. Later, Corrie forgave a guard who worked at Ravensbruck, the concentration camp in which she was held and the place where Betsie died.

  4. Trust the dreams God gives you. Before Betsie died, she had a dream. Betsie stated buildings that were used for evil would one day be used for good. In 1949, Corrie worked with the German Lutheran Church to reopen Darmstadt, a former concentration camp. The former camp turned into a home and place for healing for refugees.

  5. Share about God’s greatness. Later in life, Corrie traveled extensively. In fact, she visited 61 countries to tell of God’s great love.

What do you know about Corrie? What takeaways from her life resonate with you?

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FREE: Heads-up! My first book also happens to be free today! Snag a copy and tell a friend.


Source: The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom with Elizabeth and John Sherrill


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