NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, July 7th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. It’s time for our Classic Book of the Month and I’m so happy to get to introduce Emily Whitten. Good morning!
EMILY WHITTEN, BOOK REVIEWER: Good morning, Myrna!
BROWN: What book do you have for us today?
WHITTEN: Two books this time. The first one you’ve probably heard of: The Hiding Place. It’s the story of Dutch Christian Corrie Ten Boom during World War II.
BROWN: Ah, yes, good choice.
WHITTEN: Leading up to the war, Corrie, her father, and her sister, Betsy, ran a watchmaker’s shop in the city of Harlem in the Netherlands. They lived over the shop in the tall, three story building—so they had plenty of room for guests. When Jewish neighbors came to them for help, the Ten Booms invited them in. Eventually, they built a small hidden room in Corrie’s bedroom: a “hiding place” for their guests in the event of a raid. In the documentary Corrie Ten Boom, A Faith Undefeated, one of Corrie’s friends explains:
AUDIO: Everybody was welcome in their house whether Jewish or not. Father Ten Boom said quite distinctly that I will take in anybody who comes to my house whether Jewish or not.
Keep in mind, they didn’t set out to defy the Nazis. Each time the Ten Booms accepted a refugee, God provided the resources to help them—things like ration cards or a more permanent home in the countryside. By the time she got arrested, Corrie led an entire network of underground activity.
BROWN: I’m reminded of the Bible verse, he who is faithful in little will be faithful in much.
WHITTEN: Exactly. Corrie was definitely faithful. Although, after her arrest, that faithfulness looked very different. Rather than work to save others, she struggled to endure persecution with patience and to comfort others. Corrie suffered physically and emotionally in German prisons. She lost four members of her family. Not surprisingly, she struggled to forgive those responsible, especially the man who betrayed her to the police. When she learned that man was on death row, Corrie prayed and wrote him a letter. She forgave him and invited him to find hope and healing in Christ.
Corrie described the man’s response in this Youth With a Mission video:
AUDIO: He wrote, ‘That you could forgive me is such a miracle, that I said, when you give such a forgiveness and love in your followers, there is hope for me. And I have received Jesus as my savior.’ And that man was killed a week later. But he was reconciled with God. And who had God used for that? Me. Me. Who had hated him with a strong hatred.
For much of the rest of her life, Corrie took that message around the world. The hiding place she wanted people to know about wasn’t in her home in the Netherlands. Instead, she wanted people to realize they were safe only in God’s will and His steadfast love.
BROWN: Sounds like an inspiring story. Is this something families could share together? Or would it be too frightening for young kids?
WHITTEN: It’s a great family read aloud. Most teens and older kids should be able to handle the challenging material—things like guards beating prisoners. Families with younger kids could skip over the saddest parts if needed, or they might want to check out one of several kids’ book versions of Corrie Ten Boom’s story.
BROWN: Very good. What’s the second book you wanted to mention before concluding today?
WHITTEN: Yes, thanks. The Hiding Place deals pretty prominently with Nazi ideas of race. That made me think of another helpful book called Beyond Racial Gridlock by George Yancey. Yancey is a Christian sociologist. I disagree with some of his opinions—things like his idea of structural racism. But the core concept of his book really hits the target. He calls it “mutual responsibility,” or “mutual obligations.” He explained during a 20-16 presentation at Covenant College:
AUDIO: So I define it as a Christian based approach whereby we recognize that everyone has a sin nature that has to be accounted for. Thus everyone has an obligation to work toward healthy interracial communications to solve racial problems.
Yancey points out that minority groups in America often focus on white responsibility for racial strife. Many whites, on the other hand, tend to focus on the responsibility of blacks and minorities to fix racial problems. It’s easy to see the speck in your brother’s eye, isn’t it? In contrast, Yancey calls Christians, no matter their skin color, to repent and work together to solve racial problems. He sees that as the Biblical solution.
BROWN: I appreciate that insight. I’m curious, what does a mutual responsibility approach look like in the real world? How would we apply it practically?
WHITTEN: He doesn’t give many specifics, but in that helpful Covenent College talk, he asks us to listen in ways we haven’t before. He talks about “active listening” and assuming others have the best of intentions.
AUDIO: If we want a conversation, we have to assume the best of intentions. We don’t have to be naive. But let’s assume at the beginning and let’s see where we can get. We have to make efforts to listen to others and not assume that only those of our race have all the right answers.
BROWN: Definitely a challenge in our soundbite culture.
WHITTEN: My final thought would be, one way to get beyond soundbites is to pick up a book. To go deep with wise Christians who came before us—people like the Ten Booms who lived out love for their neighbors in creative and selfless ways.
BROWN: Thanks for these recommendations today, Emily.
WHITTEN: You’re very welcome, Myrna. Happy reading!
BROWN: For July, Emily recommends The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. She also mentioned Beyond Racial Gridlock by George Yancey. For more classic book ideas, just search for Classic Book of the Month at worldandeverything.org.