Such Nonsense

Posted by admin in November 13th, 2008
Published in faith

In the fall of 1988 I lived in Holland. I was teaching at a small Bible college in the town of Zeist. It was there that I met Pope. Not THE Pope, but a lady by the name of Pope. Thankfully she wasn’t Catholic or there could’ve been some real confusion in her life.

Knowing that I was an avid (okay, fanatical, over-the-top, borderline hero worship) Corrie ten Boom fan, Pope asked me to go with her to Haarlem to see the Hiding Place Museum newly opened in memory of the ten Boom family. This family sacrificed their lives to save Jews during WW II in Nazi-occupied Holland. I had been there two years earlier, but it was still a private residence then with the ten Boom watch repair shop on the first floor. (BTW, Corrie ten Boom was the first licensed woman watchmaker in Holland. Amazing). The fact that it was now a museum and that I’d actually be able to go in and see where Corrie lived, and where they hid the Jews…well that was way too cool to pass up. So, of course I went.

The tour was great. It was just the two of us and this really knowledgeable tour guide lady. I felt sorry for the tour guide though because I kept bawling like a baby. I cried the moment we walked in the door. Not just a tear shed here and there; oh no. I was blubbering and sobbing. Poor Pope (my friend, not the Catholic guy) and poor tour guide lady. The Dutch don’t show a lot of emotion and there I was totally out of control. I can’t explain it but I LOVE CORRIE TEN BOOM! And to be where she lived and held Bible studies and hid the Jews and where she grew up. It was very overwhelming. If you have read the book The Hiding Place or have seen the movie, you know how powerful her story is.

The museum had cut out a small square in the false wall that hid the secret room. This is where the ten Booms hid their Jewish friends during Nazi raids and midnight home searches. It was unbelievable to see the actual place where six people stayed hidden for 47 hours while the Nazis searched the ten Boom home. The space was the size of a small closet (about 4′ x 6′). The Jews hidden in the secret room were finally rescued once the Nazis left the premises, but the ten Boom family (Corrie who was about 54; her sister Betsie was around 60 and her Father, Papa ten Boom, was 90 years old) all were taken to concentration camps. Papa ten Boom died within a week of imprisonment and Betsie died in a German concentration camp nine months after being taken prisoner. Corrie was released after nearly a year on a technical error just hours before all the women her age were gassed at Ravensbruk–the camp where she was held. Fascinating stuff; real heroes. And yes, I cried my ever-lovin’ eyes out ’cause Corrie has that kind of impact on me. She rocks!

Our tour guide had known the ten Booms and she was pretty patient with me. I mean, it was just Pope and me on the tour after all. When we were leaving she asked if she could have a word of prayer with us. Probably for my mental health! It was so AWESOME being there!

Pope and I said goodbye to the nice tour guide lady and headed out the door. Well there was this plaque thing on the side of the building I hadn’t seen when we came in. It was a kind of tribute to the ten Boom family. It was this brass thing that had stuff written on it in several languages. On it was Papa ten Boom’s favorite saying, “The best is yet to come.” And I started crying again…like an idiot. Poor Pope. I was stroking the plaque, crying, probably embarrassing my friend when I heard an old man’s voice behind me saying something. I mean right next to me!

Well, I don’t speak Dutch so I looked at Pope and was like, “What the hey?” What was this old man saying? He was like 100 years old. He had on this big trench coat that was cinched way too tightly around his waist and he was wearing one of those wool driving caps like Big D wears in the winter. Pope looked at me and said, “I don’t think you want to know what he said.” Yes I did. He just kept repeating himself standing there next to me pointing to the plaque. So she tells me. Well, he says that it’s nonsense. Uh, excuse me? What was that?!? What’s nonsense? And Pope kinda whispers, “Uh, the words on that plaque. He says he knew the ten Boom family and that they all died in vain. The father was buried in a pauper’s grave and for what? For nothing. And there is no best yet to come.” Wait a minute mister! You don’t disssss my Corrie. Okay?!?

I looked this old skinny scrawny man right square in the face and I said to Pope, “Translate this…Nonsense, huh? Died for nothing huh? Well let me ask you this old man, if you died tonight do you know where you’d go? Do you? When a person dies, where does his spirit go? His personality? His memories? All the stuff he felt in his heart? Huh? Where does all that go?”

And right then the old man sucked in air. He hesitated and then he spoke, less self-assured this time, as Pope told me his answer. No. He didn’t know where he’d go if he died. In fact, he started telling us that it was one of his greatest fears. His health was failing; he was all alone in the world and if he died tonight he had no idea what would become of him.

Oh my, I felt terrible. I softened and he, Pope and I huddled closer together right there on the sidewalk outside of Corrie ten Boom’s new museum. The conversation definitely took a different turn. I put my hand on his small frail shoulder and asked, “Do you wanna know? Because you can–you can know. You can be sure of where you go when you die.” That’s when he started speaking English to me and Pope didn’t have to translate anymore. It made the conversation a lot easier. I don’t know why he didn’t just speak English to me in the first place?

So he tells me that he does want to know. That he’s scared. That death scares him. So I tell him about Jesus and how if a guy believes in Jesus and asks Jesus to come into his heart, then he doesn’t have to be afraid because Jesus’ll give him Eternal Life. You know, which is great! And not only does a guy get Eternal Life, which is awesome in and of itself, but he also gets God’s peace…today…immediately. Which, let’s be honest that is an added bonus.

He said he wanted that; he said he needed that and right there outside of Corrie ten Boom’s house the old man respectfully removed his worn-out cap. He held hands with Pope and me. And we all prayed. I said to him, just repeat after me. And he did. And I led him through a prayer of forgiveness and he asked Jesus to come into his heart. As we prayed I felt a few of his warm tears splash onto my hand as he silently cried. After we prayed he looked up at me and said, “I feel it! I feel it! I feel God’s peace!” and quite honestly he looked different. I swear he did. He starts hollering, “I have peace!” Okay, awkward moment. Then I asked him, “Old Man if you die tonight where will you go?” “To heaven!” He shouted again, “to heaven!” He put his cap back on and headed down the street kind of skipping. This was huge for me. Seriously huge.

I looked over at Pope and she said, “Do you know what just happened?” I said, “Y-e-a-h! We just led an old man to the Lord outside of Corrie ten Boom’s new museum! Is that not the most amazing thing ever? Pope! What if she knew him? What if like Corrie knew this guy and she had prayed for him! Like when he was a little boy or something? If that’s true, then we just got to be a part of Corrie ten Boom’s prayers! Oh my gosh Pope! This is going in my journal tonight!

Pope just stood there. She looked funny like she was in shock or something. I mean it was neat that we got to lead this guy to Christ, but it wasn’t like you know… shocking. Pope whispers to me, “No.” She takes a big breath and then, still whispering, asks, “Do you know what just happened?”


“Well, you spoke English and he was speaking Dutch.” Then she starts repeating herself, “The old man was speaking to you in Dutch and you were answering him in English and I wasn’t translating.” Huh? Yes. That’s right. I wouldn’t believe it either but it happened to me! I was speaking English and the old guy was speaking Dutch and for a brief moment in time God broke the language barrier to make things go a little more smoothly I guess. Who knows why? But it happened. And it was miraculous. But honestly, in view of eternity, it wasn’t quite as big a miracle as the old guy giving his heart to God. Well, they were both great and well, not such nonsense after all. Peace.
Here’s Corrie ten Boom’s picture
And this is the Hiding Place – her home.

6 users Responded In This Post

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35. Jo Peters said,
November 14th, 2008 at 2:31 am

Teri, I love your stories!!! Just finished reading this and need to wipe my eyes and blow my nose. Made sure the kids read it and plan to take it to Bible study this morning to share with my Catholic friends. Jo

36. admin said,
November 14th, 2008 at 7:39 am

Thanks Jo! Sorry for the misspelled words. I think I got them fixed now. I hope the story goes over well at the Bible study this morning. God is good…all the time! Love you all! Teri

37. Darrell Druvenga said,
November 14th, 2008 at 8:41 am

Teri: Having been to Corrie ten Boom’s house, I feel your joy. Unfortunately, I went through the museum with hardcore skeptics who laughed at the background stories–especially the piece of handiwork which emphasized how we have to look on the “other side” of the handiwork–opposite the loose strings and odd colored sequences! “The best is yet to be!”

DD in Morocco!

43. Janis said,
January 3rd, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Teri, what an awesome story. I, too, have always loved Corrie ten Boom’s story and have seen the movie several times. Thanks for sharing that for us to read.

89. grannieannie said,
February 22nd, 2009 at 6:13 am

Teri…wow, I finally read this story and I am crying too. What marvelous miracles! I hope Corrie was seeing this…she would love it!

237. Barb Otto Brown said,
October 4th, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Terri, I remember you being a fanatical Corrie Ten Boom lover back in the 80’s!!! I loved your story!!!

I can’t wait to see you at the Lee’s Summit Harvest thingy where I go to church on Oct. 22.

I remember sitting in your dorm room at Friends and talking, singing, etc.

Please email me and maybe I can see you sooner!!!

Can’t wait to see you,
Barb Otto Brown

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