Personal Testimony

This message was given by Corrie ten Boom at the First International Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1974.

In the Bible we read in Colossians 1:11, ‘As you live this new life with Jesus Christ, we pray that you will be strengthened from God’s boundless resources, so that you will find yourselves able to pass through any experience and endure it with courage.’

God’s boundless resources are what we find when we obey the commandment, ‘Be filled with the Spirit.’ This is not a suggestion; the Bible has no suggestions, only commandments, and this is the most happy commandment of the whole Bible.

When the Lord told us to witness and make disciples over the whole world, he promised, ‘You will receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you.’

To me, a little story of a bird—a woodpecker—has helped in understanding this. A woodpecker pecked the trunk of a tree, like they do. At that very moment lightning struck the tree and destroyed it, and the woodpecker flew away saying, ‘I didn’t know that there was so much power in my beak.’ I ask you, do you have the Holy Spirit, or does the Holy Spirit have you?

When I was a little girl, I remember that I talked with my father and I said, ‘Daddy, I will never be strong enough to be a real witness and a martyr for Jesus.’ And father said, ‘When you go to travel, when do I give you the train ticket, or the money for it—three weeks before?’ I said, ‘No, daddy, the day that I go to travel.’ And father said, ‘That is what God does. You don’t need to have the power to suffer for Jesus at this moment, but the moment that you will have the great honour to be a martyr for Jesus, the Lord will give you everything.’ And I’ve experienced that we have not a ‘spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind’, and the Holy Spirit is there always to do the job, to make us ready.

We live in a time where we can expect the good Lord Jesus to come very soon. Many of the signs of the time are very clear, and it’s very important that we are ready for Jesus’ coming. Peter writes, ‘Because you have a hope like this before you, I urge you to make certain that such a day would find you at peace with God and with men, clear and blameless in his sight.’ Sometimes I tremble when I think that is necessary—to be right with God and right with men.

In Russia once, I was greatly comforted by a story. A Russian said, ‘There was a big apartment house; many people lived there and they all put their junk in the basement. But there in the basement also was a beautiful harp. It was broken and nobody could repair it. Once there came a tramp who said, “May I sleep this night in your house? There is such a terrible snowstorm.” And they said, “We have no guest rooms, but you can sleep in the basement.” After some hours they suddenly heard beautiful music coming from the basement, and the owner of the harp came down and said, “How could you repair that harp?” And the man said, “I have made this harp, and when you have made something, you can also repair it.”‘

Who has made you? Wasn’t it God? Wasn’t it that nothing has been made without Jesus? Do you think he is able to make you good, blameless, and right with God and men so that you will be ready for Jesus’ coming? He is able and he will do it, for it is written that Paul prayed, ‘May the God of peace make you holy through and through. May you be kept in spirit, soul, and body in spotless integrity until the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.’ ls that possible? A spotless integrity—you and I? Yes! For the rest of the text is, ‘He who calls you is utterly faithful and he will finish what he has set out to do.’

The Holy Spirit shows us many things, as it were, from God’s point of view. The Holy Spirit gives you wisdom to cast your burdens on the Lord because he gives us spiritual insight and understanding.

I was in Vietnam and I was there not as thermometer but as thermostat. Do you know what I mean? A thermometer goes with the heat and the cold, up and down. A thermostat, however, brings a cold room immediately in contact with the source of heat and so restores the temperature. I carried the load of suffering that I saw in the hospital, in the tribes, in the front lines, and the Holy Spirit showed me that l had to cast my burden on the Lord. We are not called to be burden-bearers but cross-bearers and fruit-bearers, so we can be used as open channels for streams of living water. In my work to bring the gospel in many places, I sometimes feel weak and old, not adequate to speak in so many different meetings, but I trust what we heard today, again and again, ‘You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you.’ The Holy Spirit gives power and we can never expect too much from him. He points to the cross, where Jesus finished all for our redemption, and obedience and surrender is the answer.

I was comforted by a story told in New Zealand. A little boy went with his father over a bridge. It was a very small bridge and he was scared, and he said, ‘Daddy, I’m afraid. Do you see this water underneath us?’ And the father said, ‘Boy, give me your hand.’ Then he was not afraid any longer. But in the evening he had to go again over the bridge and now it was pitch dark. He said, ‘Daddy, I’m more scared than this morning.’ And then the father took the little boy in his arms and immediately the boy fell asleep, and awakened later in his own little bed. That is surrender to the Lord Jesus, and that is how the Holy Spirit teaches us that we are safe in Jesus’ hands.

When I was in prison where my sister and 95,000 other women died, I experienced what Paul wrote to the Philippians when he also was in a terrible prison. The Holy Spirit had pointed Paul to Jesus, and the Holy Spirit also did the same for me. And I can say with Paul what he wrote in the text, ‘I count everything as lost compared with the priceless privilege’ (I read it from the Amplified New Testament), ‘the overwhelming preciousness, the unsurpassable worth, and the supreme advantage of knowing Jesus Christ, my Lord, and of progressively, more intimately, getting acquainted with him.’ That happened when I was in that terrible prison. That can happen with you also, when you let the Holy Spirit turn your eyes more and more to the Lord Jesus even when we are perhaps entering a time of very great darkness and suffering over the world.

The world is very sick, very ill. Who is it that overcomes the world? He who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. I am sure that all of us believe that Jesus is the Son of God. That means that you and I, that we all have to overcome the world—and that is hope for the world. The best is yet to be. Jesus is coming and he has said, ‘I will make everything new’, and that this world, yes, this sick, ill world will be covered with the knowledge of God like the waters cover the bottom of the sea. What a joy to know from the Word of God that God has no problems, only plans. There’s never panic in heaven, and we have to be right with God and we know it. That is because of the finished work of Jesus at the cross. And we have to be right with men also because of Jesus’ presence. The love of God, he will bring into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who is given to us (Rom 5:5).

I love the Germans. There is not a country like it where I work with such great joy. My greatest friends live in that country, but sometimes I find people who have been cruel to me in the concentration camp. Once I saw a lady in the meeting and suddenly I thought, ‘That woman was the nurse who was so cruel to my dying sister,’ and there came hatred and bitterness in my heart; but when I felt that there was hatred and bitterness in my heart, I knew I had not forgiven her. And I know and you know that Jesus has said (you can read it in Matthew 5), ‘If you do not forgive those who have sinned against you, my heavenly Father will not forgive you your sins.’ But I said, ‘Oh Lord, I cannot, I am not able.’ And suddenly I saw it. I cashed the check of Romans 5:5. I said, ‘Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you have brought into my heart God’s love through the Holy Spirit who is given to me, and thank you, Father, that your love in me is stronger than my bitterness and hatred.’ I could go to that nurse and I could shake hands with her, and I had the joy to be used by the Lord to bring her to this decision for the Lord Jesus. What a joy.

John Bunyan made a very good little poem:

Run, John, run, the law commands,
But gives us neither feet nor hands.
Far better news the gospel brings,
It bids us fly and gives us wings.

Isn’t that good? I like that. When the Lord says, ‘Love your enemies,’ he gives you the love that he demands from you. There is an ocean of God’s love and that love is available for you, and that can make us love our enemies and then we’ll really become mashed potatoes. Hallelujah!

One of the most cruel things I have suffered was when in the concentration camp, we had to stand naked. They stripped us of all our clothing and I said to Betsie, my sister, ‘I cannot bear this. This is so terrible.’ But it was suddenly as if I saw Jesus at the cross. It was the Holy Spirit who turned my eyes to Jesus, and the Bible tells that he hung there naked, they stripped him of all his garments and he hung there for me. By my suffering I could understand a fraction of the suffering of Jesus and it made me so happy, so thankful, that I could bear my suffering.

Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my life, my soul, my all.

The Holy Spirit will turn your eyes to Jesus, whatever happens, and then we are ready, we are even willing, and we are able to suffer. Amy Carmichael has written, ‘We have a scarred captain. Should not we have scars? Under his mighty banners, we are going to the wars. Lest we forget, Lord, when we meet, show us your hands and feet.’

And may the love, mercy, and power of Jesus Christ be multiplied to you during this time of titanic spiritual warfare. The Lord wins and is able to hold us up and cause us to triumph in all situations that we may have to face. Hallelujah!

Jesus was victor, he is victor, and he will be victor. Amen.

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Miss ten Boom, Baarn, Holland, is a traveling evangelist and author of nine books including The Hiding Place.

Date: 21 Jul 1974

Gathering: 1974 Lausanne