Your life can have an immeasurable impact on others

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 25, 2012

In her book, The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom tells the story about her family who protected the Jewish people from the Nazi invaders in the Netherlands by hiding Jews in their house.

They constructed a fake wall in Corrie’s bedroom, providing enough space to hide several people at a time. Despite repeated searches by the Gestapo, who suspected the family was hiding Jews, the Nazi’s never found anyone.

But, on Feb. 28, 1944, the family was betrayed, and the Gestapo arrested everyone who came into the house that day. About 30 people were taken into custody including Corrie, her father, sister, brother and a nephew.

Eighty-four-year-old Casper ten Boom died after only 10 days in prison. Corrie and her sister, Betsie, spent 10 months in three different prisons including Ravenbruck Concentration Camp near Berlin. Betsie died there, but Corrie was released due to a clerical error. Women her age were later killed in that camp. Their brother, a leader in the Dutch underground, died of tuberculosis shortly after the war.

One nephew was sent to Bergen Belson and never returned. Another nephew, Peter ten Boom, was imprisoned for violating a German decree, playing the Dutch national anthem on the church organ to which churchgoers proudly sang the words. Peter survived, and after the war, like his Aunt Corrie, traveled around the world sharing the same message of her message of forgiveness in the face of hatred.

I recently heard a remarkable story about Peter ten Boom. During a speaking tour in Israel, Peter experienced a heart attack. He was rushed to the hospital in need of emergency surgery to save his life. The cardiologist talked with him before the operation.

“I see your name is ten Boom,” the doctor commented and asked if he was related to the Dutch family who helped rescue the Jewish people. “Yes,” Peter replied. The doctor told him, “I’m one of the babies your family saved.”

Investing yourself in the lives of others can make an immeasurable impact, whether or not we ever witness it firsthand. But that does not change the fact that each of us can make a difference, even if it’s just one person.

Corrie ten Boom once said, “How often it is a small, almost unconscious event that makes a turning point.” One kind word or thoughtful deed can change the future of another’s life.

She also remarked, “God’s viewpoint is sometimes different from ours – so different that we could not even guess at it unless He had given us a Book which tells us such things… In the Bible I learn that God values us not for our strength or our brains but simply because He has made us.”

Jesus taught, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke10:27).