10 Christian Women Who Changed the World - Part 5
And now we arrive at the final part of our series entitled "Ten Christian Women Who Changed the World." As I studied the lives of these ten women, I can't help but think that every one of them had intense struggles. Their roads were paved with obstacles, disabilities, and difficult circumstances, but they kept walking in their purpose.
When we study the great men and women of history, we often focus on their highlight reels. We focus on their victories. But it is in their struggles that the most significant lessons can be learned.
In Part 1, we discovered the beauty and grace of Mary Magdalene and the mother’s heart of Susanna Wesley.
In Part 2, we found the courage and strength of Jarena Lee and the healing hands of Florence Nightingale.
In Part 3, we found the music of heaven in Fanny Crosby and the truth of freedom from Soujourner Truth.
In Part 4, we explored the tenacity of Catherine Booth and the heart of gold found in Amy Carmichael.
As we conclude this series, we see two more women who through their compassion, hardships, and trials turned sorrow into joy.
9. Cornelia Arnolda Johanna ten Boom
Her name was Cornelia Arnolda Johanna ten Boom, but we know her as the beloved "Corrie" ten Boom. Corrie was born on April 15 in 1892 in the Netherlands. She was a Dutch watchmaker trained by her father. She had two sisters and one brother all living as a family above their fathers watch shop. The ten Boom family were Christians with a deep faith that inspired them to serve society by giving money, food, and shelter to those in need.
Corrie lived a life of generosity. She established youth clubs for teenage girls giving them classes in religion and performing arts. World War II, however, changed her life forever.
When the Germans came into the Netherlands, they began their "Nazification" of the Dutch people. At the time, only Corrie, her father, and her sister Betsie were living in the little house above the watch shop. It was here that Corrie and her family hid Jewish fugitives being hunted by the Gestapo. A secret room was built into Corrie's bedroom that could hold no more than six people. This "hiding place" became a haven for the hunted until Corrie could find another safe house to transport her Jewish friends.
It was on February 28, 1944, that the ten Boom family was discovered by the Nazi's and the entire family was arrested for harboring Jews. After a series of hearings and trials, Corrie and her sister were sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Their father had died ten days after the arrest. The six Jews that were in "the hiding place" when Corrie was arrested had managed to escape and were safe.
At the Ravensbrück concentration camp, Corrie and Betsie held worship services. They snuck a small Bible into the camp and each night after work; they worshipped with the other women. Betsie died in the camp at the age of 59. Before she died, she told Corrie, "There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still."
Corrie was released from the concentration camps fifteen days after her sister died. She was told that a clerical error was the reason for her release.
After her release, Corrie returned home to the Netherlands and set up a rehabilitation house for survivors of the concentration camps; something she and Betsy had spoken about during their time in the camps. Through Corrie Ten Boom's network of safe houses, it was estimated that 800 Jews' lives were saved. (source)
In 1946 she returned to Germany and in the true spirit of Christ, forgave two Germans who had been harsh to her and Betsie in the concentration camps. She traveled the world as a public speaker and wrote many books after the war.
The world came to know the name Corrie ten Boom when she published her best-selling book The Hiding Place in 1971. The Hiding Place is the story of the ten Boom family and how they were able to save so many Jews through the little space in Corrie's bedroom. It is a book that declares that God's love will overcome, heal, and restore and a reminder that "there is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still."
If you are a woman reading this post, then I would like to include you. That's right . . . You.
You were born at a specific time and place in history. You were set in a family (good or bad) and were given a path to follow (easy or difficult). You may have parents, or not. Siblings, or not. Schooling, or not. Children and a husband, or not. What you do have is breath in your lungs, and you are doing and have done the best you can. You know God is leading you, and you are following the call He has put on your life.
Your life may not have been rainbows and unicorns. Maybe there have been a few circumstances, situations, and events that have tried to bring you down but instead made you stronger. And in spite of all you've been through you continue to rise.
Maybe you are a mother like Susanna Wesley entrusted with raising the next generation to spread and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Perhaps you are a speaker, pastor, preacher, or teacher and like Mary Magdalene, and you accepted the Great Commission to teach and preach the Gospel to anyone who listens.
You are Jerena Lee, and you have dared to stand up and say that you will not surrender your God-given calling even though the world and its message has tried to silence your voice. You are following the path of Florence Nightingale. You may be a doctor or a nurse in a fancy hospital, or maybe just nursing a feverish baby in your arms. Either way, your hands bring healing.
You are standing on the foundation built by Sojourner Truth as you fight against injustice standing on the truth of the Word of God. Maybe you are basking in the legacy of Fanny Crosby. You are a writer, an artist, a musician, a poet; giving their gifts back to God and blessing all of those who have the privilege of receiving your voice.
I bet your heart is as soft, yet as powerful as Amy Carmichael as you embrace the lost and alone. But more than just embrace them, you rescue them from a life of nothing and give them everything by giving them the love, salvation, and protection of Jesus Christ. I imagine you have the tenacity of Catherine Booth. You are disturbing your present situations so that you can have a better future for you and the ones you love. Your heart is to help others and you have given your life for the betterment of your fellow brothers and sisters.
And maybe, just maybe, you are Corrie ten Boom. Your life has been a series of dark pits and low valleys. At times you find yourself hiding in the place where no one can find you so that you have a moment of peace. But you continue to get up, brush off the dust, and proclaim, "There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still."
I would imagine, that you are a little bit of each of these women. You stand on their achievements, you've learned from their trials, and their legacy inspires you to press on another day and give 100% to the calling and purpose God has placed on your life.
I cannot write that for you, my friend. That is now in your hands. What will history remember about you? What lives are you changing this very moment? You may not be ministering to the millions like Corrie ten Boom. Your songs may not be sung each Sunday in thousands of churches like Fanny Crosby. BUT YOU HAVE A LEGACY.
There is something only you can do the way you can do it. There is something only you can say the way you can say it.
What is your legacy, my friend? What are you giving back to the world? For what will you be remembered?
I pray that through this series, your calling and purpose in Christ has become crystal clear. I hope that through these women, you see a little bit of yourself. And I pray that no circumstance, disability, situation, or event causes you to back away from who God created you to be.