Donovan Roberts Witmer '97
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A prayer for one’s enemies
The decade of the 1940s began with the building of Auschwitz, one of the most horrific concentration camps during the reign of Hitler and Nazi Germany. By the spring of 1940, Germany had invaded Holland, which was the home of a kind watch repairman named Casper ten Boom and his four adult children: Willem, Nollie, Betsie, and Corrie. The story of this family is detailed in Corrie’s memoir, The Hiding Place, written with Elizabeth and John Sherrill.
During the Nazi invasion of Holland, the family provided protection to Jews in their community. Their home became a hiding place for many who resisted the Nazi regime. This dangerous work led to the family’s arrest in 1944.
The book chronicles the lives of the ten Boom family as they endure the atrocities of daily life in the concentration camps. The appalling conditions of their imprisonment often moved me to tears.
As the book progresses, however, Betsie and Corrie emerge as humble heroines. Corrie’s strong-willed opinions provide a contrast to the persistent purity of thought and
attitude of her sister. Betsie serves as the voice of forgiveness and gratitude. She consistently prays for her enemies. Her attitude brings a freshness and joy in an otherwise dire and lifeless place. Perhaps the most stirring moment centers on Betsie. As she is dying, she again considers her enemies. She says, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”
This is a story filled with examples of God’s provision, the courage of a family to live out their faith, and the power of the Gospel. My faith was challenged and encouraged through this book. I recommend adding it to the top of any reading list.