“In My Father’s House: The Years Before ‘The Hiding Place'”

fathershouseI’ve found a book I love almost as much as The Hiding Place. Almost.

Which is saying a lot. I read The Hiding Place from cover to cover in just a few hours and have revisited its pages many times since. I jumped at the chance to tour the Corrie ten Boom house in the Netherlands last summer. It was an unforgettable hour in the Beje, but I would so love to have been able to visit when Father, Betsie, Corrie, and the rest of the family were there.

In My Father’s House lets us peek through the window at what it must have been like. The Ten Booms were examples of faithful obedience and unwavering faith in a time that seemed impossible. Corrie worked to save people hunted by the Nazis in a time of constant uncertainty, but her hope in God was just as real.

But World War II was not the beginning of her story. As Corrie points out, people don’t just come into existence at fifty years old, but instead are shaped from the very start into who they will become. In My Father’s House shares vignettes from Corrie’s childhood and younger adult life with little “teasers” tracing the connecting lines between her earlier life and her World War II experiences.

We hear more of Corrie’s family and their unmistakable personalities that sometimes didn’t seem to go together. Corrie shares about the growing tension before the Nazis actually invaded Holland and tells WWII stories not included in The Hiding Place. She writes of her work with teenage girls and the mentally handicapped.

“I remembered…what Father had often said to me. ‘Corrie, what you do among these people [the mentally handicapped] is of little importance in the eyes of men, but I’m sure in God’s eyes it’s the most valuable work of all.’”

Corrie’s rambling, motherly voice feels as if she is sitting right beside us and sharing her heart. The stories flow together into a patchwork piece of art, illustrating God’s leading in life that can often only be seen when looking back. She writes of learning English and German through family Bible study, when each family member would read the same verse in a different language.

“Father would begin by asking what John 3:16 was in English. I would answer from my English Bible, Mother from her Dutch Bible, and Betsie would reply in German. When I was so young, it didn’t seem possible that Betsie would ever have a chance to use a Bible verse in German. We didn’t know any Germans then! However, God uses such seemingly insignificant ways to prepare us for the plan He has for our lives. Over forty years later, in a concentration camp in Germany, Betsie was able to use that verse—and many more—to speak to the prisoners and the guards about God’s love.”

God orchestrated Corrie’s life at every moment, whether during a Nazi invasion or on a church trip with middle school girls. In My Father’s House reminds us that He does no less for us.

“[One of our foster daughters] was married by then and had two children, and another one on the way. Her husband was a teacher, and they lived in Rotterdam during that terrible bombardment. They fled to a small suburb of Rotterdam, where her third baby was born in a cellar. For a year they lived in that cellar, which formed a bomb shelter. [She] told me in later years that over and over again she repeated to her children, ‘Opa taught us, “When Jesus takes your hand, He keeps you tight. When Jesus keeps you tight, He leads you through your whole life. When Jesus leads you through your life, He brings you safely home.”’”

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