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Thoughts on life by Teri McCarthy

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The Ladies’ Room Prayer and Heroes of the Faith

Posted by admin in August 13th, 2009
Published in faith, missions

It seems difficult for Millennials to find real heroes today. Christian teens especially struggle to find good role models and mentors. Mine was always Corrie ten Boom. I was twelve-years-old when I first saw The Hiding Place. My family was living in Oklahoma City at the time. Every Sunday my parents let me go to a movie with my BFF Sheila White. Sheila’s parents and my parents would arrange delivery and pick up. One did delivery. The other did the pick up.

Sunday afternoon movies became a ritual for me. Sheila and I went to the old Apollo Theater where for $1.50, I could see a movie, get popcorn and a drink. Yup! That’s right. $1.50! They showed old classics at the Apollo. Like National Velvet and The Robe. But one Sunday I’ll never forget. We saw a movie that forever changed my life. It was a movie neither of us had ever heard of. It was The Hiding Place.

It’s sometimes hard to explain those moments in life where God seems to reach through that unseen veil between our natural understanding and His omniscience. Some people call it a “rhema” moment or a “divine revelation.” At twelve years of age I didn’t know what to call it. Maybe it was a eureka moment.

But I sat in that dark, musty-smelling movie theater, lost in the story being played out on the big screen. My heart raced when the Nazis searched the ten Boom home for hidden Jews. I bawled when Corrie made friends with the ants in her cell because of her loneliness in solitary confinement. I rejoiced to hear that the lice had a reason for being in the barracks—they kept the soldiers away and this allowed Bible studies to take place freely, daily. My heart broke as Betsie’s death left Corrie with a sense of abandonment in horrible Ravensbruk, a concentration camp just inside Germany’s border. I sat in awe as Corrie was released from prison due to clerical error just days before every woman her age was executed.

That film impacted my life more than any film before it or since. At the end of the film the real Corrie ten Boom comes on screen and lets the audience know her story was real, true, non-fiction. She closes with these words, “There is no pit so deep that His love is not deeper still.”

On the way home from the movie I couldn’t speak. I kept crying. My folks thought I was too dramatic. Emotional. My friend Sheila just thought I was weird. But something happened to me that day that would forever change my life. I knew in my heart that this woman, this old maid Dutch woman, was speaking truth. And even at age twelve, I knew her words were packed with meaning. Today I’d call it an anointing, but back then I didn’t have that vocabulary. All I knew was that I couldn’t shake the truths declared in that film. That day, the Spirit of God moved on my heart and planted a seed deep inside that heart, a seed that wouldn’t bear fruit until years later. That was my first introduction to Corrie ten Boom.

Nine years later, at the age of 21, I rededicated my sorry loser life to the Lord after three long years of drugs, sex and rock-n-roll. The Lord miraculously lifted me out of the miry clay of drug addiction, sexual promiscuity and a life of bondage to sin. I prayed a simple prayer, “Do you still want me? And if you do, here I am. Please rescue me from this pit.”

And He did. At that very moment. He set me free.

I got up from that prayer and was never the same.

One of the things I wanted to do after God’s merciful touch on my life was to visit a Christian bookstore and get something to read to help me grow in Christ and to follow Jesus as His disciple. While browsing around a Christian bookstore I came across Corrie ten Boom’s Tramp for the Lord. I bought it and began reading it that night. It has become one of the most influential books in my life. I have read it over 20 times! I’m not kidding. Powerful book.

Corrie ten Boom mentored me, corrected me, taught me, discipled me—all through her books. I loved her and prayed every day that I might have the opportunity to meet her. I just wanted to look her in the eyes and tell her how much she meant to me. I wanted to see her face-to-face.

Two years after God pulled me out of the mucky muck, I headed to Pasadena, California, to be a part of the U.S Center for World Missions and to begin training for China. It was February, 1983. I was eager to begin my life as a missionary. I was thrilled at the opportunity to work as an assistant to Roberta Winter, a contact made for me by Richard Foster, a professor of mine at Friends University. Pasadena was a wonderful learning experience. I met people from all over the world who were dedicated to reaching the lost. Ralph Winter had coined the phrase, “Unreached People Groups” and it seemed that everyone at the Center was focusing on how to reach these unreached groups with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Count me in!

My little desk was located in Roberta Winter’s office. In fact, it butted up right against hers. One day in April, Corrie ten Boom’s name came up. I told Roberta about my love for Corrie and how she had mentored me through her books—by this time I owned every book ever written by Corrie ten Boom.

Roberta asked, “Would you like to meet her?”

I was flabbergasted. Of course I wanted to meet her! Was Roberta kidding?

Roberta picked up the phone and called a Mrs. Ruth Kietzman. She explained to Mrs. Kietzman who I was and my love for Corrie ten Boom. Mrs. Kietzman said she would try to arrange something then asked if she could speak with me directly?

Roberta handed the phone across her desk and I stretched to reach the receiver.

“Hello,” I said.

“Yes, hello, is this Teri?” she asked.

“Yes,” I replied, rather nervous and tense.

“Well I understand that you are a big fan of Tante (Aunt) Corrie. Unfortunately she hasn’t been well these past few years. Many of us are asking the Lord why He doesn’t just take her home. She has had so many strokes that she is not fully aware of her surroundings. She only speaks in Dutch these days. But what a presence fills her room. Everyone says they can sense the presence of the Holy Spirit right there in the room with her. But we do wonder why the Lord hasn’t taken her home.”

Then it began to hit me and hit me hard. Since I first read Tramp for the Lord, I had been praying daily that the Lord would keep Corrie ten Boom alive until I got to meet her. I would beg Jesus to keep her on earth until I had the opportunity to shake her hand and to look her in the eyes and tell her what her life and books had meant to me—had done for me.

Thoughts of these selfish prayers were spinning round and round in my head and I could hardly focus on what Mrs. Kietzman was saying to me on the other end of the line. I vaguely remember her saying that she would arrange a meeting with Corrie ten Boom and that I was to call her in two days to find out the details. She and her husband would drive me to the house where Corrie lived. I expressed my gratitude and hung up the phone.

Immediately, I rushed to the ladies’ room. I was overwhelmed with emotion. I didn’t want anyone to hear me crying (sobbing actually) so I stepped into one of the stalls and tried to muffle the sobs with my hands and two thousand Kleenexes. My whole body was shaking as I realized how selfish and cruel my prayers about Corrie had been.

That day, on April 14, 1983, I prayed a prayer in the second floor ladies’ room at the U.S Center for World Missions, “Please forgive me Lord Jesus. Please forgive me for praying so selfishly all these years about Corrie ten Boom. I was wrong and I am so very sorry. I release her to You. I release her Lord. I ask You Lord Jesus to PLEASE release her from her suffering and pain. Please take her home to be with You and free her from the chains holding her here on earth. I beg Your forgiveness. I plead with You dear Jesus to take Corrie home.”

It took a few minutes to recover. Ever experience the death of a dream? I washed my face with cold water and tried to gain some composure. I was grateful to see that when I went back to Roberta’s office she was busy with something and didn’t even notice me.

All through the day as the thought of Corrie ten Boom lying in a bed longing for home crossed my mind I would pray a little prayer and ask God once again to take her home. I released her and experienced a great deal of peace as a result.

The next day, April 15, 1983, on Corrie ten Boom’s 91st birthday, she went home to be with the Lord.

Mrs. Kietzman called me at my dorm at the U.S. Center for World Missions.

Mrs. Kietzman said, “Teri, I am afraid I have some very sad news for you. Corrie ten Boom went to be with the Lord today. It was her birthday. She was ready to go and be with her Savior. You know Teri heroes are not a bad thing. In fact, they are really quite good when they are heroes of faith like Corrie. I am sorry you weren’t able to meet her here, but you will see her in heaven. I think she would have liked you very much.”

I tried hard not to cry, “Mrs. Kietzman, I am going to China as a teacher because of Corrie ten Boom. I want to be a missionary because of her life and her testimony.”

“That’s wonderful Teri! She had a great impact on so many lives. Go to China Teri and love the Chinese for the Lord. Corrie would be so proud of you.”

I hung up the phone and I ran back to my room. I fell down on my small twin bed and cried, and cried and cried. It was as if my own family member had died. My tears were not tears of regret, or tears of disappointment, but they were tears of astonishment…maybe tears of relief.

Please know that the homecoming of Corrie ten Boom was planned long ago— before the foundations of the earth were laid. God appoints such times for His children and precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (Psalm 116:15). God didn’t take Corrie ten Boom home because of my prayer. No, but something very important had taken place in that second floor ladies’ restroom at the US Center for World Mission.

The Creator of the universe, the God of all, cared enough to prepare silly, immature, insignificant me for the day of Corrie’s death. He wasn’t holding her on earth because of my prayers. He is so much bigger than that. But he was aware of my heart and my desire to be with her, to meet her, to connect with her somehow. It’s like He said, “Hey! It’s time to bring Corrie home, but we need to prepare that Teri girl’s heart and assure her that we are not negligent in our love and care for her.”

That morning in the ladies’ room at the USCWM the Holy Spirit convicted me of my selfishness and prepared my heart to release the dream of meeting Corrie here on earth. God is that good and He cares for His children in real and tangible ways. He’s in the details.

After Corrie ten Boom’s funeral, Mrs. Kietzman sent me a painting, signed by the artist and inscribed to Corrie that had hung in Corrie ten Boom’s home. She also sent a beautiful packet of things from the funeral service: a program, a tribute, a pressed flower. She also sent several 8×10 photos of Corrie—one with Billy Graham sitting with Corrie in her garden in California. Treasures. Items I love so much.

I never met Mrs. Kietzman. Before I left for China in August of that year I called her and she said a prayer for me over the phone. She said to me, “Remember Teri, heroes of the faith are a good thing to have and you couldn’t have a better hero than Corrie ten Boom. She would have been so happy you are going to China.”

Mrs. Kietzman died in the late 1990s. Before she died I was able to speak to her by phone and tell her thank you once again for her care and for her taking me seriously. She was on oxygen at the time and suffering in her body, but so very gracious to me, as always. I told her daughter what Mrs. Kietzman had done for me and how kind she had been.

Interestingly, in my search to meet Corrie ten Boom, I found another hero, an unsung hero, Mrs. Ruth Kietzman who made an insignificant, silly young girl from Kansas feel important and she let me know it was okay to have heroes. And as a result, she became one of mine. Peace.

When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer. —Corrie ten Boom

Books by Corrie ten Boom
With John and Elizabeth Sherrill, The Hiding Place, 1971. (ISBN 0-340-17930-9)
With Jamie Buckingham, Tramp for the Lord, 1974
Not Good If Detached, Christian Literature Crusade, 1980
Amazing Love, Christian Literature Crusade, 1982
Defeated Enemies, Christian Literature Crusade, 1983
Common Sense Not Needed (Revised), Christian Literature Crusade, 1994
Marching Orders for End Battle, Christian Literature Crusade
Plenty for Everyone, Christian Literature Crusade, 1980
In my Father’s House, 1976
Each New Day, (A Devotional) 1981

corrie-ten-boom2
Corrie ten Boom

5 users Responded In This Post

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192. Cuzzin J'Lynn said,
August 13th, 2009 at 8:39 am

Thank you for sharing this, Teri. This story touches my soul. Keep telling His awesome works.

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193. Lesley said,
August 13th, 2009 at 8:48 am

That is so powerful. Thanks!

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194. margaret said,
August 14th, 2009 at 7:05 am

you are an unsung hero to many of your students!I am proud of you along with Tante Corrie!

margaret

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195. dustin turner said,
August 14th, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Incredible. I’ll have to start reading your posts in private because I always get choked up!

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196. kcburnes said,
August 14th, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Good to meet a fellow admirer of Corrie’s. One life-great impact.

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