In the Jewish tradition, it is said that only very blessed people are allowed the privilege of dying on their birthday. Such is the case for Corrie ten Boom, who died on her 91st birthday—April 15, 1983.
The youngest of four children, Corrie ten Boom was born on April 15, 1892, near Haarlem in the Netherlands. Her father, Casper ten Boom, was a well-liked watch repairman, and often referred to as “Haarlem’s Grand Old Man.”
During the Second World War, the ten Boom home became a refuge and a hiding place for fugitives and those hunted by the Nazis. By protecting these people, Casper and his daughters, Corrie and Betsie, risked their lives. Arrested and put into a concentration camp themselves, the ten Boom family members clung to their faith in Christ during their ordeal.
The true story of the family’s plight is told in The Hiding Place, the most popular film produced by World Wide Pictures—the motion-picture ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
In his autobiography, Just As I Am, Billy Graham talked about Corrie and the film: “Corrie is one of the great Christian heroines of the century. We met her in Switzerland, and her story made such an impression on Ruth that she recommended it to writers John and Elizabeth Sherrill. They jumped at it; and the book and film that followed brought home the horror of those days and the triumph of Christ’s love in the midst of virulent hatred.”
Graham went on to share an incident from the film’s 1975 world premiere at the Beverly Theater in Los Angeles. “Shortly before the film was to start,” he wrote, “someone threw a tear-gas canister into the theater, forcing the crowd to evacuate. The showing had to be postponed. We held an impromptu street meeting out in front while the police and fire departments attempted to find out what had happened. I spoke to the crowd and prayed.”
At a reception later that evening, ten Boom spoke in her distinctive Dutch accent: “People asked me tonight, ‘What did you feel about this [tear-gas] bomb that was falling?’ I was touched. I was sad. Do you know why? Not only because there was in some way disappointment for people who had hoped to see the film but because on that bomb was the Hakenkreuz, the [Nazi] swastika.
“What we have to do,” said ten Boom, “is love these people who hate us—love them, pray for them. These people are wounded people who have hate in their hearts. They need forgiveness. They need the Lord. That is the answer we must give.”
In God’s providence, said Graham, the furor over the tear-gas canister created enormous interest in the film. “It premiered the following night without incident and has become the most widely seen motion picture we’ve ever produced.”
Having undergone extensive frame-by-frame restoration and remastered audio, The Hiding Place is available on DVD, featuring behind-the-scenes footage of ten Boom and three other shorts featuring the prison-camp survivor.
“There is one notable single woman in Christianity who really impacted me,” says 22-year-old Marina. “God blessed Corrie ten Boom with the vision of reaching out for the most hopeless people all over the world and introduce to them the love of God in Jesus Christ.”
“I fell in love with Corrie Ten Boom and her Christian spirit a year ago when I saw the film, The Hiding Place. She is certainly an inspiration for youth today too,” says 19-year-old Chris.