A House Above a Watch Shop- Can Our Family Change the World?
Together, my daughter and I stood on a busy sidewalk. We looked at the narrow Dutch house above the watch shop. We were about to visit the home of a family of internationally known world changers.
Our family is also committed to changing the world. In fact, that is why the two of us were together. We were on a trip to Africa. My assignment was to train disciple-makers for unreached tribes. My daughter would help in a nearby preschool, just beyond the road the giraffes walk along. Holland was a layover on our journey.
A Watch Shop Preserved in Time
The Ten Boom Watch Shop has been in business in this neighborhood for generations. Its fame comes not from its timepieces. Now it is a museum that shows what God’s people can do when they take a stand against the oppression and evil that too often emerges in our world.
A Dutch woman came to the door of the shop and invited us for a tour. Along with other guests, we walked to the back of the shop and up the stairs into the Ten Boom’s living room. On the wall, we saw a faded photo of Mr. Ten Boom with his long, gray beard. Other photos showed his daughters, Corrie and Betsy. They were a devout Christian family. The Ten Booms enjoyed a peaceful life…until Adolf Hitler began his campaign to take over the world.
When the Nazis captured the Netherlands, most people hoped they could continue life as usual. Before long, however, Jewish people were required to wear cloth stars sewn onto their collars to identify them. Eventually, the Nazis began to arrest innocent people simply because they were Jews. Shocked by this turn of events, Christians began to organize an underground network. They would help their Jewish neighbors escape.
Corrie and her family took an active role. Despite the risks, the Ten Booms created a hiding place in one of their bedrooms. We visited the room and saw the false wall built of brick and the secret door through the closet. People seeking refuge from the hostile authorities stayed with the Ten Booms. At the first sign of approaching soldiers, the “guests” would quietly rush to their hiding place.
They Would Not Give In
The Ten Booms knew the danger to their own lives. They would not accept the direction that their world was taking. Scripture tells us: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed…so that you can prove the will of God.” They would not give in! They would do whatever they could to change their darkening world.
Many made it to freedom until the Nazis finally caught on. Old Mr. Ten Boom, Betsy, and Corrie were hauled off. They were eventually placed in concentration camps. Sadly, Corrie was the only one to survive.
Corrie’s story is told in her classic book, The Hiding Place, which was also made into a gripping motion picture. Her personal experiences prove that we can endure anything with God’s help.
Her Message of Love and Reconciliation Reverberates
A few years after being released from the concentration camp, Corrie began to travel the world. She told her story of God’s faithful care and love. Perhaps the most powerful impact she made as a world changer came after the war ended. Unexpectedly she came face-to-face with one of her old, cruel prison guards. Rather than reacting in bitterness and hatred, she looked to the Lord and gathered her strength. Corrie offered forgiveness. In our world of prejudice, division, and hatred, her message of reconciliation still reverberates.
Let It Be True of Our Family Too
Our tour came to an end as we all stood around the Ten Boom dinner table. A lady in our group noticed the name handwritten on my daughter’s backpack, and asked her about it. “Oh, yes,” my 18-year-old responded with a smile, “It says ‘Corrie’ because my parents named me after Corrie Ten Boom.”
My eyes moistened. Our hope and prayer as a family has always been that each of us—when faced with life’s challenges—would do the right thing. No cultural, ethnic, religious, or political barriers would get in our way. We would choose to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. In other words: like the Ten Boom family, with God’s help, we will be world changers.
Do you desire that for your family too? That somehow by God’s grace you’d change the world?