That was all. Nothing had changed. Mrs. Heemstra continued with her recipe for stretching the tea ration with rose leaves. And yet everything was changed. For in that instant, reality broke through the numbness that had grown in me since the invasion. At any minute, there might be a rap on this door. These children, this mother and father, might be ordered to the back of a truck.
Dr. Heemstra came back to the living room and the conversation rambled on. But under the words, a prayer was forming in my heart.
Lord Jesus, I offer myself for Your people. In any way. Any place. Any time.
– The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom
This passage from The Hiding Place marks a major turning point in Corrie ten Boom’s life–when nothing on the surface seems to have changed, but everything has. Shortly after she utters this prayer, Corrie becomes involved with the Dutch Resistance to the German occupation of Holland during World War II. The Hiding Place tells us a bit about Corrie’s early life but mainly focuses on her experiences during World War II. These events would go on to profoundly shape the rest of her life, in which she was known for being a prolific writer, speaker and evangelist and a model of what it looks like to practice true forgiveness.
I read The Hiding Place for the first time years ago, and one thing that I remember being struck by that first time, as well as now, is the significant role that her Christian faith played in her life and the lives of all of her family members. As you read the novel (or if you’ve finished all ready), consider all of the ways that faith in Christ influences people’s actions, decisions and responses to adversity. I think you will be impressed, too!
To get you ready for our discussion of The Hiding Place, here are some discussion questions, courtesy of the LitLovers website.
- Corrie’s father tells her that he pities the Nazi’s: “They have touched the apple of God’s eye.” What does he mean by that statement. Consider the strength of character it takes to feel pity for a people and a system that means to do harm to fellow beings.
- What are the various hiding places, real and symbolic, to which the title of this book refers? How, for instance, do fleas help lead to a “hiding place” for Corrie and Betsie while they are imprisoned?
- In addition to the extraordinary kindess and courage of the ten Boom family, what are some of the smaller acts of kindness shown by others in this memoir? Are people inspired to greater compassion, or less, in dire situations? What motivates acts of kindness—in other words, what makes people kind? What makes some people kinder than others?
- Talk about the kind of woman Corrire ten Boom and her sister Betsie were. What sustained them during their ordeal in the concentration camps? To what do you attribute Corrie’s courage and survival in the face of so much death and hardship?
- Stories like Corrie’s always beg comparison to ourselves and our own lives. We wonder how each of us would behave under similar horrific circumstances? How would you? What inner strengths and courage and compassion would you draw on? Would you have risked your life and the lives of your family (especially, if you have children) to help the Jews or any others subjected to brutal persecution? We know what we are called upon to do, but would many of us find the courage needed to do what is right?
- Comment on what Betsie said to Corrie: “I pray every day that we be allowed to do this! To show [the Nazis] that love is greater!” What do you find extraordinary in that statement?
- Talk about the incident after the war in which Corrie comes across one of the former SS men at Ravensbruck. How did she respond to him at first…and how did she change? What does this say about the principle of forgiveness—its difficulty and its healing power?
- What do you find most surprising…or inspiring in this account of the Nazi era? Did this book change you in any way? Did you come away having learned something…about history…about faith…or about yourself?
I hope you’re enjoying The Hiding Place, and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone for our discussion on Thursday, August 9 at Sheila’s house. The address is in the E-vite. If you didn’t receive it or if you need directions, please comment on this post, on our Facebook page, or get in touch with one of us personally, and we’ll be sure to help you get there.