Sunday October 17th 2021, 10:38 pm
Filed under: History

One of the speakers at church today (if only there could be a link to our own ward’s talks!) mentioned Corrie ten Boom, whom I had heard of before but this story I had not.

She and her family hid Jews in the Netherlands during WWII but were eventually caught and sent to a concentration camp. Her father, sister, and nephew died; Corrie was released by mistake and made her escape.

Having preached forgiveness as a moral imperative and a means of spiritual and even physical survival in the camps, she continued to do so after the War, speaking far and wide on the subject.

At the end of one of those talks, a man approached her.

I can’t even imagine. She knew exactly who he was: he had been one of the SS guards in that concentration camp.

He told her how grateful he was for what she had said–and he reached out his hand to shake hers.

Forgive him, she told herself. Practice what you just preached. Live it.

Her hand utterly refused to move.

Help me forgive him, she prayed hard.

But she knew exactly what he had done.

Finally, in agony, her inner cri de couer was, I cannot forgive him. Father, You must because I cannot–and with that her hand was suddenly freed and she reached hers out to his and in the moment they connected she described an electricity going through her to him.

And it healed him.

And it healed her.

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Oh yes. One of the most powerful joyful meaningful moments ever shared. One of the hard spots was that it was clear he had no specific memory of her, but she remembered his callous cruelty to her sister very well, but he greeted her with, “I have found the Lord!”. She told God, “I can raise my hand. I can choose to go that far; I cannot go farther but you can do it for me…” and He did.

Comment by Marian 10.17.21 @ 10:47 pm

The depths of His power is unknowable. But this was a glimpse.

Comment by Chris+S+in+Canada 10.18.21 @ 7:29 am

How had the SS guard been held responsible for his crimes? Why was he owed forgiveness? Perhaps this is related to Christian theology, but in my book, unless he had made active steps to repent and repair some of the great harm he had dealt out? Belief or theology alone doesn’t fix it. We do not owe forgiveness for what was done to us for simply being Jewish.

Comment by Joanne 10.18.21 @ 9:04 am

I answered Joanne privately but I’m going to share what I said here, too:

I hear you. And under at least my church’s Christianity, you’re right, if he made no effort to atone for his grievous sins then he is not worthy and not even able to accept forgiveness because the whole concept would be utterly foreign to him because he would on some level still be trying to justify himself. It’s not that he’s not responsible for what he did because G_d gave him a get out of jail free card as long as he waves the right words around, it’s that it goes so far beyond what he can make up for once he fully accepts that yes he did do those horrendous things. If he had come to a place where he would do anything to be able to take that back and does everything he can to make it up to the survivors, all that is left to him is to do right by those he wronged in any way he can while throwing himself on the mercy of God.

True repentance has to happen or there is not even an understanding of why it’s required, much less the power of the Love that awaits his so doing.

She owed it to herself to forgive him so that his actions could never hurt her again. In the end, where he stands with G_d is between the two of them.

Comment by AlisonH 10.18.21 @ 9:21 am

Thank you.

Comment by Sharon Stanger 10.18.21 @ 7:13 pm

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