One Little Bible

An artists depiction of Corrie and Betsie Ten Boom reading the Bible to and overcrowded room of their fellow prisoners in a German concentration camp.

God’s Word penetrates the darkness in every heart.

“Our friends invited us to go see a movie with them! It’s about Corrie ten Boom, and it’s only in theaters for two nights!”

Lydia’s eyes sparkled as she added, “And it’s the week your parents are visiting, so we don’t have to find a babysitter.”

“Great! That sounds fun!” I said. “Let’s go ahead and buy our tickets.”

We never go out at night. Our weekly date is at lunchtime on Fridays, when our boys are at school and our medically fragile daughter has a home health nurse.

Lydia and I bounced happily through the next few days. Then our plans fell apart.

“Our friends have decided not to go,” Lydia told me. “And I had your parents’ dates wrong. They won’t be here until the week after the movie.”

I had no idea who we could hire to watch our kids. And if we did find someone, it would cost extra money. On top of that, I realized we’d be going through all of that effort in order to go without our friends to see a movie about the Holocaust, which to me didn’t sound at all like a “fun” date.

“I bet we can find someone at work to buy the tickets.”

Lydia agreed.

On Monday morning I drafted my email, but before I hit “send” I decided it needed more details. So I looked up reviews of Pete Peterson’s The Hiding Place.

They glowed.

I thought of my wife, who had a worn copy of Corrie ten Boom’s book on her shelf, and how she had jumped for joy at the thought of going out together to see this movie.

“I think we should still go,” I told Lydia that evening. Her smile brightened the room.

We found a babysitter, and we went.

I bought some popcorn for Lydia. She never touched it. It wasn’t a popcorn kind of movie.

We left the theater with our spirits full and our faith singing.

Despite the gravity of the content, we left the theater with our spirits full and our faith singing. We gave the popcorn to the babysitter.

I spent the rest of the weekend reading the book that had inspired the movie. I had never read The Hiding Place, and it set my heart on fire.

I read how, during World War II, Corrie ten Boom and her family sheltered hundreds of Jews in their home in the Netherlands and helped smuggle them to safety even though their house was only half a block from the Gestapo police headquarters.

But eventually they were caught and arrested. Her gentle and wise father died 10 days after their arrest. Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to a concentration camp.

Corrie managed to smuggle in a little Bible in a pouch around her neck. That alone took a miracle. The S.S. guards ran their hands over the woman in front of her three times, and also searched her sister behind her. But they didn’t touch Corrie, nor did they see the Bible bulging under her thin prison-issue clothing.

Every night Corrie and her sister would read the Bible to the women in their barracks. She wrote:

From morning until lights-out, whenever we were not in ranks for roll call, our Bible was the center of an ever-widening circle of help and hope. Like waifs clustered around a blazing fire, we gathered about it, holding out our hearts to its warmth and light. The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the Word of God. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”

I would look about as Betsie read, watching the light leap from face to face. More than conquerors. … It was not a wish. It was a fact. We knew it. (ten Boom, 1971, 177-8)

The guards never caught them. Later, Corrie learned it was because there were so many fleas in the barracks that the guards avoided going into them. The services continued.

They were services like no others, these times in Barracks 28. A single meeting might include a recital of the Magnificat in Latin by a group of Roman Catholics, a whispered hymn by some Lutherans, and a sotto-voce chant by Eastern Orthodox women. With each moment the crowd around us would swell, packing the nearby platforms. …

At last either Betsie or I would open the Bible. Because only the Hollanders could understand the Dutch text, we would translate aloud in German. And then we would hear the life-giving words passed back along the aisles in French, Polish, Russian, Czech, back into Dutch. They were little previews of heaven, these evenings beneath the light bulb. (183)

Betsie died in the camp. Corrie survived, and she spent the rest of her life proclaiming that Jesus can pierce any darkness. She set up healing centers for those broken by the war, not only for victims but also for former oppressors.

Corrie’s testimony of the power of God’s Word renewed my commitment to the mission of Pioneer Bible Translators. One little Bible in her language, smuggled into the concentration camp, brought hope and new life in the midst of the deepest darkness and cruelty.

They were little previews of heaven, these evenings beneath the light bulb.

In June I interviewed 14 Christians among the Toma people in West Africa. They had endured civil war, persecution, and the Ebola epidemic. But their testimonies overflowed with joy, because they had just received the whole Bible in their own Toma language.

Each person shared how God’s Word had transformed their lives. Here are portions of the testimony of Elisabeth Kebe Koivogui (translated from Toma into English).

Some time ago I was suffering greatly. I have children, six of them. But for us there has been a time of trouble and anxiety. I didn’t know how I would bear that burden.

A man named Raphael gave me a memory card with the Toma audio New Testament. I didn’t know how to use it. Another man showed me how to put it in my phone and how to use it.

I continue to listen to it a lot — God’s Word translated into Toma. It has shown me a lot about my life. Because if I’m lying down, I’m listening to it. If I’m out in the country, I’m listening to it. If I’m walking along the road, I’m listening to it.

The counsel that Paul gives, that I hear in God’s Word, helps me hugely. In the book of Romans, in the book of Ephesians, in the book of Matthew, and other places, they help me greatly.

“I listen a lot to God’s Word translated into Toma. … Its counsel helps me greatly.”

In this world we will have trouble. If you put your hope in God, anxiety will not overcome you. If you put your hope in God, you can act, He can act. Faith will add to your confidence. God is able to help us.

Whenever these problems happen to you, listen to God’s Word. Whenever these problems happen to you, meditate on God’s Word. He will give you help to bring you out of it so that you won’t go backwards.

A lot of people gave me advice. “How are you going to handle this? You should go to the sorcerer and make a sacrifice. He will consult the spirits for you. After you have gained peace, then you can go to church.”

But can I gain peace that way? There is no peace in that. The peace that Jesus has, above all, that lasts forever and ever when He gives it to you, that’s what I seek.

God’s Word says Jesus is the source of peace. He is truly the source of peace. If you grow in your faith and confidence, the peace He gives you lasts forever and ever and you won’t go backwards.

So the counsel I would give people, those who are hearing my voice: The day problems come to trouble your faith, all of that will pass. But God’s Word will never pass. God’s nature will never pass. God’s peace will never pass. So it’s important to give yourself to Him and to press on. And always, always, He will help you.

May God bless you in Jesus’ name.

May God’s Word continue to penetrate the darkness in every heart, through every language, so that we may all become more than conquerors through Him who loves us.

Quotations from Ten Boom, C., Sherrill, J. L., & Sherrill, E. (1971). The Hiding Place. Washington Depot, Conn., Chosen Books.

David Graves
David Graves joined Pioneer Bible Translators in 2006, after which he met his wife, facilitated Bible translation in various East African settings, and had three children. He now creates videos and other content for Pioneer Bible, and he enjoys languages, stringed instruments, and all things creative.
See All Posts by David Graves

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