Shortly after her release from a German concentration camp Corrie ten Boom started traveling throughout her home country of Holland and then to other countries of the world, sharing her hope-filled message of God’s love, forgiveness, healing and joy even in life’s darkest, most desperate circumstances. For more than three decades she crisscrossed the globe, sharing the Gospel of Christ and her Christian testimony in over sixty countries.
Corrie had a remarkable ability to communicate effectively with all different kinds of people in all varieties of settings. She shared the message of God’s love and salvation with royalty in palaces, government officials in embassies, celebrities at posh social gatherings, intellectuals and students in universities and schools, illiterate local people in their villages, upstanding citizens in service clubs, criminals in prisons, patients in hospitals and beggars on the street. Corrie seemed at ease and effective whether ministering to thousands in a large crusade or church meeting or to a single individual in an airport or restaurant.
While it was rewarding to minister around the world, it certainly was not an easy life. She normally soldiered through the challenges and hardships of itinerant ministry with remarkable willingness and selflessness. But occasionally the difficulties and sacrifices took a toll on her, and she was tempted to give in to self-pity or to give up altogether. Invariably at those times, the Lord brought circumstances into her life that helped her through the discouragements and renewed her determination to carry on in the ministry He had for her.
Once while ministering in Japan Corrie arrived at an evening church service feeling thoroughly sorry for herself. She was very tired and her stomach was upset from the unusual food she had been eating. Corrie longed for a good European meal back in Holland, a table where she would not have to sit cross-legged on the floor and a soft bed rather than the hard mats on which the Japanese slept.
At the church service that night Corrie spotted a bent little man in a wheelchair. His face bore the happiest expression she could imagine. After the service Corrie’s interpreter introduced her to the man. He smiled broadly when she inquired about several small packets wrapped in brown paper and tied with string on his lap.
Carefully unwrapping one of the packages to show Corrie its contents, he explained, “This is the Gospel of John, written in Braille. I have just finished it.” He went on to share that this was the fifteenth time he had written the Gospel of John in Braille. He had also written other Gospels as well as many shorter portions of the Bible for the blind.
“How did you come to do this?” she asked.
The man proceeded to tell Corrie about the Bible women in Japan who travel from village to village, taking copies of the Bible along with Christian books and pamphlets to those who are hungry for God. “Our Bible woman is very ill with tuberculosis,” he said, “but she travels every week to sixteen villages, even though she will soon die.”
“When I heard about it,” he continued, “I asked the Lord what I could do to help her. Although my legs are paralyzed, and I cannot get out of the wheelchair, in many ways I am healthier than she. God showed me that though her hands are shaky and my legs paralyzed, I could be the hands, and she the legs. I punch out the pages of Braille, and she takes the Bible around to the villages and gives them to the blind people, who miss so much because they cannot see.”
Corrie left the church that evening filled with shame. “Here was I,” she later divulged, “with two good legs for traveling all over the world, two good lungs and two good eyes, complaining because I didn’t like the food!”
She also related the valuable lesson she learned through that incident: “These precious people had discovered a sure cure for self-pity – service to others. … The best antidote I know for self-pity is to help someone else who is worse off than you.”
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A fuller account of Corrie ten Boom’s upbringing, early years of ministry, heroic endeavors during World War 2 and fruitful worldwide ministry in the closing decades of her life is provided in my book Women of Faith and Courage (Christian Focus, 2011). Corrie’s inimitable telling of the events of her life is found in her autobiographical works such as The Hiding Place, Tramp for the Lord, and Jesus Is Victor. Carole Carlson’s Corrie ten Boom: Her Life, Her Faith is an excellent one-volume account of Corrie’s life and ministry.
Copyright 2017 by Vance E. Christie