A Story of Forgiveness: Corrie Ten Boom


Corrie ten Boom looks at a picture of her father, Casper ten Boom
Corrie ten Boom Museum, via Flickr

Christy VanArragon and Joshua Leo tell the story of Corrie Ten Boom. She shows the power of forgiveness and healing, even in the most difficult situation.

Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Christy VanArragon.

Voice 2

And I’m Joshua Leo. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand - no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

The woman faced her former prison guard. He and the other guards had done terrible things to her and other women in the prison camp. The guards had beaten the women. They had denied the women food, and medicine. The women had done nothing wrong. They did not deserve this punishment.

Voice 2

But now, years later, the guard had come to her. He was asking her to forgive him. What would she say? How could she answer him? Today’s Spotlight is on this woman, Corrie ten Boom, and her answer.

Voice 1

You may have heard another Spotlight program about Corrie’s father, Casper ten Boom. Casper and his family lived in the Netherlands during World War Two. During that time, the German army controlled that country and many others. They were fighting a war for control of Europe. The German government was also trying to rid these countries of particular groups of people - including the Jews, and Gypsies. They killed millions of people in planned executions, and in prison camps.

Voice 2

The ten Boom family disagreed with these policies. For four years, Casper and his family worked to help Jews and other people in danger. They hid people in their home. They also worked to find safe places for the people to stay - places outside the city where they lived. In this way, they helped to protect more than 80 people.

Voice 1

But finally, in February 1944, the authorities learned of the ten Boom family’s illegal acts. They arrested many members of the family, including Casper, Corrie and her older sister, Betsie.

Voice 2

Casper was very old. He died ten days later in prison. Corrie was 51 years old. Betsie was several years older. The two sisters were held in separate rooms at the prison. They stayed in this prison for several months. Then, in June, the authorities moved both sisters to a prison camp. Here, they were together again. But their situation was about to get extremely difficult.

Voice 1

In September, authorities moved many of the prisoners in the camp. Guards ordered them on to a train. This train was originally designed to carry cows. But now, people filled the cars. They had little food, or water. Finally, they arrived at a prison camp in Germany called Ravensbruck.

Voice 2

Ravensbruck was the largest prison camp for women in Germany. And it was a terrible place. The prisoners had very little food. Guards forced them to work hard. They beat prisoners for any reason. And they also killed many prisoners, by poisoning them with gas.

Voice 1

In the camp, Betsie’s health quickly began to fail. Corrie did everything she could do to protect her sister. She tried to give her extra food. She protected Betsie from the guards, and from difficult work.

Voice 2

Betsie also protected Corrie, but in a different way. Betsie followed their father’s example. The family was Christian. Every day, their father read the Christian Bible with his daughters. They also prayed to God together. It was this faith that caused them to protect people in danger. They were following the example of Jesus Christ. Even in the prison camp, the sisters continued to read their Bible and pray.

Voice 1

However, Corrie was very angry. Instead, Betsie encouraged Corrie to be thankful - even for the little things, and the difficult things. She also encouraged Corrie to forgive. This was the most difficult thing for Corrie. But forgiveness is a central teaching of the Christian faith. Christians believe that God forgives people for the wrong things that they do. They also believe that they must follow God’s example. They must forgive people that do wrong things to them.

Voice 2

Betsie did forgive the guards. However, over the months, Betsie became more and more weak. Finally, in December, she died from sickness and lack of food. Soon after Betsie’s death, the authorities released Corrie. Corrie did not know why they released her at this time, but her prison sentence was complete. She returned home to the Netherlands, without Betsie. Corrie moved back into her father’s house alone.

Voice 1

Corrie felt lost without Betsie. How could she continue? But slowly, she remembered their talks in the prison camp. Betsie had wanted to share a message of forgiveness. And she wanted to open a home to help people damaged by the war.

Voice 2

When the war ended in 1945, Corrie opened a home just like Betsie had wanted to. At first, the people who came were former prisoners. But soon, the home also began to serve Dutch people who worked with the German authorities. These people were now suffering very bad treatment from their communities. And they also suffered deep regret for the things they had done during the war. At first, Corrie found it hard to accept these people. But again, she followed Betsie’s example of forgiveness.

Voice 1

Corrie also began to travel and tell her family’s story. She wrote a book about these experiences. It is called “The Hiding Place”. In it, she tells the story from the beginning of this program.

Voice 2

In 1947, Corrie spoke at a church in Germany. After her speech, a man came to talk to her. He had been a guard at Ravensbruck. However, since then, he had become a Christian. And he deeply regretted the terrible things he had done as a guard. He asked Corrie for forgiveness. He held out his hand, for her to hold. Corrie wrote about her feelings and thoughts in that second:

Voice 3

Forgiveness is not an emotion - I knew that. Forgiveness is an act of the will. The will can work, even if the heart is cold. “Jesus, help me!” I prayed quietly, “I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.”

Voice 1

So Corrie put her hand into his hand. As she did, something amazing happened. She began to feel a healing emotion - it was forgiveness. It filled her heart. And she began to cry. Corrie wrote about what she said:

Voice 3

“I forgive you brother!” I cried, “With all my heart!” For a long time, we held each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love as deeply as I did then.

Voice 2

Corrie worked with victims of war for the rest of her life. She died in 1983, at the age of 91. Corrie was honored by many governments and Jewish organizations for the work she did. But it was Corrie’s example of forgiveness that brought healing to many people.

Voice 1

The writer of this program was Christy VanArragon. The producer was Michio Ozaki. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘A Story of Forgiveness: Corrie Ten Boom’.

Voice 2

Thank you for joining us today. Goodbye.

Question:

Have you ever forgiven someone who did something terrible to you? Why or why not? How did you feel about your decision?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
anhnt2407
said on August 11, 2011

Hi buddies,
Thank you Spotlight very much for this topic. I am not a Christian but i can feel what Christianity gives to human’s thoughts and acts. Everybody in our real life always commits mistakes that they may be dont want to do. In Vietnam, when somebody commits mistakes, other people (friends, acquaintances…) usually use this to rumor or decry. I dont like it so much. In my mind, I do want to forgive anybody if they commit a mistake that do not harm me so much. Forgiveness is what heals our hearts and make us closer together. Sometime it is very difficult to forgive, and sometime the wall between forgiveness and hating is very thin and destructible . But we should move to forgiveness. Forgiveness makes our life better.
Thanks,
AnhNT,

Avatar Spotlight
kenhieuloilam
said on August 30, 2012

We wish good things. Each of us experiences difficulties, challenges and sufferings in the life. Not good things influence the life negatively. Not good things make us sad. We build for good things. We live our lives for good things. We sacrifice much for good things. We try much to develop good things. We love everyone and forgive all. We love good things.

Avatar Spotlight
ptquan
said on August 31, 2012

In our life there are many things we should forgive. That is in over our heads to forgive. Forgiveness easily say, but hardly do. I regularly encourage myself to forgive for somebody, but it fell. I could not fill my heart with good emotions. I may find the book ” The Hiding Place” to read for study about forgiveness .
Thank spotlight about many good materials. You not only help me learn about English, you also provide me knowledge and experience for life !

Avatar Spotlight
Rain Bows
said on September 01, 2012

Spotlight,
We should all forgive because we all make mistakes.
I’m working in forgiveness it is hard, especially cause forgiveness means also to not bring the past problems to the present if you do it it won’t make sense the forgiveness act.
Reading the bible is so helpful. I guess I was closer to God earlier in my life just like I am right now.
Thanks for the program.
Sofía Miketta,
Manta-Ecuador.

Avatar Spotlight
Chun-Shiang
said on October 20, 2013

I agreed that forgiveness can heal people’s heart. However, it is hard to show our forgiveness because hatred always defeats the kindness. Therefore, I think forgiveness is the important thing people have to learn. As long as we forgive, I believe the society must become better than before. Thank for Spotlight.This topic touched my heart. I felt warm and I hope I can regard forgiveness as the faith, too.
Thanks.
Chun-Shiang

Avatar Spotlight
thanhdung07121985@gmail.com
said on October 24, 2013

The Buddhist always teaches and advises us to have the mercy and the love to people.And that is the way to have peaceful,happy life.So you should forgive some one who made mistake to you or hurt you.Please remember we are living forward to a peaceful world,not conflict,not struggle,not hate!

Avatar Spotlight
layeak
said on October 27, 2013

forgiveness

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on August 04, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the question above
Date: Thursday 04, August 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Christy VanArrangon, Joshua Leo, and Michio Ozaki:

At first, I want to thank you to bring us readers and learners of English more one great article. Thanks!
Yes, I have.
Because I never know if one day I will need to be forgiven by someone. I am a sinner person and I could need of this religion action.
However, I try to do everything in the perfect way, I try to treat everybody very well to evoid to offend nobody, and to avoid to ask pardon to someone.
If someone does everything correctly, this person will not make many mistakes against each other. So, this person will feel comfortable and without blames into his or her mind.

Yours regards,
Severino Ramos
Brazil