Monday, April 8, 2013

Yes You Can -- the Watchmaker and the Architect

Willem ten Boom was a Dutch watchmaker. In 1837 he opened a clock shop in Haarlem, above which his family lived. He was a faithful Christian and his house was always open to anyone in need.

Willem felt led to begin to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6) and in 1844 began a prayer meeting in his home to that end. His son Casper carried on the prayer meeting with his family and it was still going strong in February of 1944 when Casper and his family were arrested by the Nazis.

With this for her heritage, is it any wonder that Corrie ten Boom, Casper's daughter, would be instrumental in the movement to protect Jews during the terrible days of World War II? "During 1943 and into 1944, there were usually as many as seven people illegally living in the ten Boom home -- Jews and members of the Dutch underground. Additional refugees would stay with the ten Booms for a few hours or a few days until another 'safe house' could be located for them." (source)

One day an architect knocked on the door. He had heard of the ten Boom's fervor and had come to offer his services. He designed a hiding place into which several people could disappear, should the Gestapo arrive at the ten Boom home. It was in Corrie's bedroom, the highest point in the house. The architect not only designed the room (8-9 feet long, 6 1/2 feet tall, 2 feet deep, behind a linen closet) but also instructed them how to build the room without drawing attention to themselves. "You are a clockmaker," he told Casper. "For the next two weeks you will be working on nothing by grandfather clocks. Fill the clocks with bricks and other building material. No one will suspect what you are up to."

The hiding place is on the top floor.
The hiding place was so well designed and so secure that, when the Gestapo showed up on February 28, 1944, they could not find it. Safely hidden from them were two Jewish men, two Jewish women, and two members of the Dutch underground, all of whom were freed by the Resistance two days later. They were just six of the 800 Jews whose lives were saved through the efforts of the ten Boom family and their many friends.

But what of the architect? Who was he? Nobody knows. But what is known is that he went all over Europe, where he helped create hundreds of hiding places, and was instrumental in saving thousands of lives during the Holocaust.

The watchmaker did what he could -- he opened his heart to the Jewish people and prayed faithfully for them. His passion spilled over onto others, as they carried on the prayer meeting for 100 years and as they risked their own lives to save the lives of others.

The architect did what he could -- he shared his skills with people who would join in the cause of rescue. Neither man was seeking glory for himself, but through each man's life, God was glorified and many, many people were saved.

Do you have a passion or a skill that seems small or inconsequential by itself? Don't seek to use it in a grand way; just offer it because you have it. Yes, you can. You never know how God will use it.

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You can read more about Corrie ten Boom in her books The Hiding Place and Tramp for the Lord, or watch the movie, The Hiding Place. My thanks to Pastor Samuel Schaar who, just five weeks ago, went to the Corrie ten Boom Museum and shared about it at church last night! He had no idea that I had already planned to blog about her today, on Holocaust Remembrance Day! It is Sam's photos you see in this post.

1 comment:

Joan Husby said...

A thrilling part of history, and we need more than ever to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.