Legacy of Love, Part 1
Will You Open the Door?
The Anne Frank game was a somewhat popular hypothetical scenario game that some Jews played in the aftermath of WWII. It’s goal was to identify people who would shelter them in the event of another holocaust. “Where would you go?” Someone would ask. And the scenario would play out from there. The Jones’ might be one’s answer. Maybe the Smith’s for another.
Fortunately those questions never had to be answered. But if you could go back to 1944 Haarlem, in the Netherlands, that question would be as relevant as “what’s for dinner.” And a good candidate you might hear repeated would be a little watch store on 19 Barteljorisstraat. It had been founded in 1837 by a man named Willem. But watches weren’t the only spectacular things in his shop. The most spectacular thing in his shop had to be the love. In 1844 after being particularly inspired by a church service, Willem began a weekly prayer service for the Jewish people and peace in Jerusalem. In 1944 one hundred years after that weekly prayer service began it was finally being shut down. Not because the love was running out, or attendance was down, or people were becoming discouraged. It was being shut down by the Nazis.
Willem was, of course, no longer leading those prayer meetings. But his legacy of love and faith continued. Now it was his son, who by this time was often referred to as Haarlem’s Grand Old Man who was leading. A man who took after his father as a watchmaker and a peacemaker. A man who, being a gentile, chose to wear a yellow star of David in solidarity with the Jewish people who were systematically being exterminated by Hitler and the Nazis. A man named Casper, who’s gentle love inspired generations to live for more than themselves.
I wonder if we could identify ourselves with the persecuted in the way that old watchmaker could? The great UCLA basketball coach John Wooden once said, and I paraphrase, “If I’m ever put on trial for my faith, I hope there’s enough evidence to convict.” This old man of Haarlem saw people put on trial all around him for nothing more than being conceived. And he chose to be put on trial with them. He took seriously Christ’s command that we should love our neighbors. He was faithful to Jesus’ instruction “Take up your Cross and follow Me.” Eventually Casper, Haarlem’s Grand Old Man, was arrested for his work providing a hiding place for the Jews in Holland. After being severely questioned by the Nazis he was given the opportunity to go home and die in his own bed. He replied, “If I go home today, tomorrow I will open my door to anyone who knocks for help.” He died ten days after being arrested at the Hague Municipal Hospital. He was 84 years old. It would not be the end of Casper Ten Boom’s legacy however. More was to be written.
“Father! Those poor people!” I cried. The police line opened, the truck moved through. We watched till it turned the corner. “Those poor people,” Father echoed. But to my surprise I saw that he was looking at the soldiers now forming into ranks to march away. “I pity the poor Germans, Corrie. They have touched the apple of God’s eye.” – From The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
This is the first in a short series of messages about how love like Casper Ten Boom’s changed life for people affected by the Holocaust. I hope you return to read more of the story.
God Bless You,