Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Corrie ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord: A Review

Corrie ten Boom book cover
I took the photo of the book cover from my own copy and added the quote.

Released from Ravensbrück with a Message for the World

Corrie ten Boom's family worked for the Dutch Resistance when the Nazis occupied their land of Holland during World War II. Corrie wrote of their activities and their consequences in her first book, The Hiding Place.

Until she was fifty years old, Corrie had lived with her family above the watch shop her father owned. After the Nazis took power, the ten Boom family helped hide persecuted Jews in a specially built hiding place in their home. But an informer betrayed them. The Nazis arrested and imprisoned the entire family.

Corrie's father died after a few days. Some family members were released. But Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to Germany and imprisoned in the Ravensbrück women's labor camp for several months, where Betsie died. A clerical error caused the Germans to release Corrie a week before all the women her age were sent to the gas chambers.

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1985-0417-15, Ravensbrück, Konzentrationslager
Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1985-0417-15 / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (]

While imprisoned, Corrie and Betsie had tried to encourage those who had lost all hope. The picture above shows the kind of work these women in Ravensbrück did. The photo above was taken at Ravensbrück a year before Corrie was imprisoned there. This link leads to more photos taken of the prisoners in this camp and their life there. You can see why most had little hope. Most did not leave while alive. They saw the smoke from the crematoriums as they worked. Could anything be more depressing?

In The Hiding Place Corrie explains how God was able to work among the women--even in the barracks of the concentration camp. The book was made into a movie. I recommend it. I saw it when it first came out in 1975.

Billy Graham Presents: The Hiding Place [DVD]

Corrie's Life After Release

After her miraculous release, for I believe God was behind that clerical blunder, Corrie spent some time regaining her health and reconnecting with the remnants of her old life in Holland. Then, for about twenty more years, she traveled the world spreading her message of God's love and forgiveness. She called herself a tramp for the Lord because she circled the world twice, living out of a suitcase, with no real home to call her own. I call her an ambassador for Christ, for she carried his message of reconciliation wherever she went. She chose the title for her book because it reflects her lifestyle during those years. It is the sequel to The Hiding Place.

Book: Tramp for the Lord

Corrie's Message Was Consistent

Corrie had suffered hardship and betrayal. She had watched as her sister died due to conditions in the concentration camp, illness, and the cruelty of a particular guard. She had slept with fleas and lice. She had almost starved to death. But still she spoke of God's love and faithfulness to her.

During nightly Bible times  in the barracks, she gave hope to many women without any. She had managed to sneak a Bible in and she used it for spiritual strength for herself, Betsie, and anyone else who wanted to participate. (That story is in this book.)

Corrie's message was one of reconciliation. She told stories as she shared the convicting and healing words of the Bible. One of her most frequent themes dealt with the bitterness that many have when they believe they have suffered injustice or betrayal. She taught that the cure was forgiveness. On p. 59 she says, "If we forgive other people, our hearts are made ready to receive forgiveness."

But God has a way of testing us so that we will know ourselves. Corrie was not exempt from that testing.

One night Corrie spoke about God's forgiveness at a church in Munich. She had told the assembled Germans that when we confess our sins, God casts them into the deep ocean and they are gone forever.

And then she saw a man approaching her in an overcoat and a brown hat. Except she suddenly saw him as she had known him before -- in a blue uniform and a visored cap with a skull and crossbones. The man had been one of the most cruel guards at Ravensbrück. As he thrust his hand out he said it was good to know all his sins were at the bottom of the sea. He seemed not to recognize Corrie. He told her he'd been a guard there, but had become a Christian now.

He said, '...I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips, as well....will you forgive me?' Out came his hand again.

All Corrie's memories of the terrible times and the way her sister died flooded her mind. Corrie wrote: "And I stood there--I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven--and could not forgive."

She wrestled with God internally over the hardest thing He had ever asked of her. She wrote "For I had to do it--I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. 'If you do not forgive men their trespasses,' Jesus says, 'neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses.' I refer you to Chapter 7 in Tramp for the Lord to see what happened next.

tramp for the lord book cover
I took the photo of the book cover from my own copy and added the quote.
Each chapter of Tramp for the Lord is short, but Corrie doesn't need a lot of words to share what she has learned through her suffering and from the Bible. I was impressed most by the fact that Corrie was an ordinary Christian quietly making watches and doing her best to obey God when she was arrested. She had learned to trust God before prison, and she kept trusting Him during those months at Ravensbrück in spite of the horror of her surroundings and the cruelty she suffered and witnessed.

She continued to trust him on a daily basis as she traveled the world as a tramp for the Lord. He remained faithful in providing her needs until her death on her 91st birthday in 1983. When she said "He made me rich" she didn't mean materially rich. He supplied all her needs so she would not have to ask for money. He gave her peace, forgiveness, and the victory that comes with obedience.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. What an amazing story. To have the faith and fortitude to not only survive the atrocities of the labor camp and the heartbreak of losing her family, but to spend the rest of her life as an Ambassador for the Lord. An excellent book review, Barbara. Thank you.

    1. It encourages me to remember she was an ordinary person who lived an extraordinary life. If I remember The Hiding Place correctly, Corrie was in bed with the flu the night the family was arrested. From a sickbed to a prison. It's hard enough to face when one is well. Corrie had fully expected to spend her life peacefully as a watchmaker. She'd never signed up to be a missionary. Yet she has taken the message God gave her to more people in more places than maybe even the Apostle Paul. And as with Paul, she had never planned to spend her last years the way she did. Kind of scary, isn't it?

  2. I was in jr. high school when "The Hiding Place" was published and high school when the movie came out. I remember well how everyone was talking about the book & movie, and it's impact on lives. Not only did her story impact the people she met, her book touched hearts of individuals she would never lay eyes on in this world. I haven't thought about that book in years. I would imagine I would have a different perspective now after 40 years, but no doubt, still be just as convicted by her words and actions, perhaps more. I don't remember reading "Tramp for the Lord", which surprises me. I need to see if the books are available on Kindle (it is easier for me to hold & read).

    1. Her books are available on Kindle. Some of the movies can be viewed free by Prime members. I got to meet Corrie in person when she spoke near the UCLA campus while I was working in Westwood. I got much more out of the book that I did when I first read it in the seventies.

  3. Corrie's books are as popular today as the day they were written. what a powerful message she shared with us all.

    1. I agree. That's why I'm hoping to introduce these books to new generations who weren't around a few decades ago when this was popular.

  4. Wow, this sound like a wonderful book. I'm sure it is hard to read in part, but the message needs to be spread far and wide. It's easy to trust in the Lord when things are all right, but when all the world seems to be falling apart, the trust still needs to be there. Thank you for adding another book to my list!

    1. The Hiding Place was harder to read, since it took place in the concentration camp. This book includes some of the relevant memories, but its main focus is on Corrie's post-prison ministry. I think it will encourage you.

  5. I hadn't heard of her plight before this. Certainly, many other stories of that terrible time in history have been brought to the forefront, but this one is new to me. What an incredible woman. It's amazing the strength and power in the human spirit. She lived her life by example. I look upon forgiveness somewhat different than most people - that when we understand we're all here learning to master ourselves, and merely at different stages of that learning, there's nothing to forgive. Even the most horrendous things fall into this. I suppose our human flaws make me sad, heart broken, sometimes, and hope that we'll all become better souls on this trip.

  6. I guess I should master my feelings that Google should tell me before I comment that I have to sign in again instead of waiting till afterward and eating my comment to make me sign in again.

  7. What a wonderful review. I only vaguely remember hearing of Corrie ten Boom and certainly don't remember hearing about the topics of her books. This is going to my must-read list. I have no idea how anyone was able to survive the Nazi's and still have any shred of kindness toward anyone. Amazing.

  8. This was a book that powerfully touched my heart when I was a teen. Like you, I don't believe that clerical error happened by chance. God had a tremendous plan to spread healing and forgiveness through Corrie ten Boom. Her faithfulness is such an inspiration.

  9. I've read many books of that genre, but am not familiar with ten Boom, will be adding to my must read list!

  10. What a remarkable woman! Urging universal forgiveness after her family was murdered by the Nazis (and, but for that clerical error, she would have been murdered as well) is a powerful message, indeed.


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