If you’re 40 or younger, chances are you haven’t heard of Corrie ten Boom. It’s been almost 30 years since her death on her 91st birthday on April 15, 1983, but her legacy lives on.
Corrie “was a Dutch Christian, who with her father and other family members helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II. Her family was arrested due to an informant in 1944, and her father died 10 days later at Scheveningen prison. A sister, brother and nephew were released, but Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp where Betsie died. Corrie wrote many books and spoke frequently in the post-war years about her experiences. She also aided Holocaust survivors in the Netherlands. Her autobiography, The Hiding Place (1971) was later adapted as a film of the same name in 1975″ (quote source Wikipedia.com).
In an interview with Pat Robertson in 1974 (available on YouTube), Corrie mentioned that she was confined by the Nazis a total of eleven months with the first month spent in solitary confinement before ending up in a concentration camp with her sister, Betsie. From a letter Corrie wrote in 1974, she stated that “Seven hundred of us from Holland, France, Russia, Poland and Belgium were herded into a room built for two hundred” (quote source here). **Stop for a minute an imagine being one of 700 people herded into a room built for 200 and left there.** While Betsie died in the midst of that horror, Corrie was released on December 28, 1944, due to a clerical error. The women prisoners her age in the camp were killed the week following her release (source Wikipedia.com).
Due to Corrie’s own experience at the hands of the Nazis combined with what happened to Chinese Christians in 1949 as Mao Tse Tung brought China into communism (forming “People’s Republic of China”) led her to speak out about the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” doctrine that is widely taught in American churches today. In a letter she wrote in 1974 entitled “Prepared for the Coming Tribulation” she wrote:
“There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation, that the Christians will be able to escape all this. These are the false teachers that Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days. Most of them have little knowledge of what is already going on across the world. I have been in countries where the saints are already suffering terrible persecution . . . .
“In America, the churches sing, ‘Let the congregation escape tribulation,’ but in China and Africa the tribulation has already arrived. This last year alone more than two hundred thousand Christians were martyred in Africa. Now things like that never get into the newspapers because they cause bad political relations. But I know. I have been there. We need to think about that when we sit down in our nice houses with our nice clothes to eat our steak dinners. Many, many members of the Body of Christ are being tortured to death at this very moment, yet we continue right on as though we are all going to escape the tribulation” (quote source here).
Many Christians in America today have been taught by pastors who espouse a “pre-tribulation” rapture of the Church that they will be “raptured” right before the final seven years of the “tribution” period that unfold here on earth (see Revelation–the last book in the Bible–for details) and, thus, will not have to endure the horror of those final seven years. There are also two other “rapture” views known as “mid-tribulation” rapture and “post-tribulation” rapture and all three views are espoused by well known pastors and theologians (a few names of those espousing each of these views can be found here). I don’t believe that all pastors who teach the “pre-tribulation” rapture are false teachers as is stated in Ms. ten Boom’s statement above, but the whole idea of a “pre-tribulation” rapture is a modern day theory that was “developed in the 1830s by John Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren, and popularized in the United States in the early 20th century by the wide circulation of the Scofield Reference Bible” (quote source: Wikipedia.com).
I was raised under pastors who espoused a “pre-tribulation” view of the rapture; however, as I’ve gotten older, I began to question it. Why should Americans be immune from persecution when Christians in more than 40 nations around the world today are being persecuted for their faith (source here)? In America, our Christianity is a soft, easy Christianity ripe for teachings that endorses a “pre-tribution” view of the rapture, but here’s what Corrie had to say in her 1974 letter regarding what happened to the Christians in China who were taught the same type of teaching back before the Communist revolution in 1949:
“In China, the Christians were told, ‘Don’t worry, before the tribulation comes you will be translated – raptured.’ Then came a terrible persecution. Millions of Christians were tortured to death. Later I heard a Bishop from China say, sadly,
‘We have failed. We should have made the people strong for persecution, rather than telling them Jesus would come first. Tell the people how to be strong in times of persecution, how to stand when the tribulation comes–to stand and not faint.’
“I feel I have a divine mandate to go and tell the people of this world that it is possible to be strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are in training for the tribulation, but more than sixty percent of the Body of Christ across the world has already entered into the tribulation. There is no way to escape it. We are next” (source here).
These are the words of Corrie ten Boom written back in 1974 who survived the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps. You can read the entire contents of her letter here. She traveled the world telling others about her experiences and how faith in Jesus Christ regardless of circumstances sustained her as it does many, many other persecuted Christians around the world even in the very face of death. Christians living in America are no different from Christians living around the rest of the world. Jesus clearly tells us what to expect in John 15:18-21, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.”
While I questioned the teaching of a “pre-tribulation” rapture for years, these past three and a half years of unemployment have allowed me the opportunity to open up my world in a way it never would have opened up if “life as I knew it” hadn’t come to an abrupt end when I lost my job in Houston. Granted, I expected to find a job within the first six months but that didn’t happen, and while I continued to look for work (right up through today) a whole new world opened up before me–a world out there that shouted, “there’s more to life than the ‘American way’ . . . a whole lot more. Pay attention.”
We’ve been sold on a soft, easy Christianity (compared to those millions who are severely persecuted around the world) that not only doesn’t require much from us but also promises that we’ll be “raptured” before the really awful stuff starts. Sounds like what the Chinese Christians heard before Communism took over in 1949 and the widespread torture and murder of Christians proliferated. Even today living as a Christian in China is daunting (read here for up-to-date reports).
I believe Corrie ten Boom was right, and, indeed, it is coming to our shores. In fact, it is my belief that it’s already here and growing. If you doubt that, here’s an article to get you thinking about it titled, “Persecution of Christians Growing in the United States” and it was written back in 2001. And it hasn’t gotten any better since then. Also, there’s an article at RenewAmerica.com written in 2008 that you might want to read titled, “Preaching a Pre-tribulation Rapture Weakens the Church.”
I Peter 5:8-11 (MSG) states, “Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.”
If a “pre-tribulation” rapture theory has you coasting in neutral thinking you’ll escape the hard stuff before it comes, wake-up! Sound an alarm, and be alert. We don’t want to be totally caught off guard like the Chinese Christians were in 1949, do we? They didn’t escape and we won’t either. But it’s not about “escaping” before the bad stuff happens anyway, read that passage in I Peter 5 again–“You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.”
Did you get that? God, through Jesus Christ, has great plans for us, but they are eternal and glorious plans not earthly and temporal plans. Eternal. So let’s start living with eternity in mind, instead of always seeking what we can get here on this planet, which is at best temporary; or escaping hardships, which are also temporary.
Bob Dylan wrote a song years ago titled, “The Times They Are A-Changin'” (YouTube Video of the song sung by Phil Collins is below). While times were certainly changing back in 1964, they are certainly changing at an unbelievable pace today. Here’s the words to the last verse in that song:
The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.
Indeed, the times they are a-changin’ . . . so don’t let them catch you off guard!
Take heed . . . .
YouTube Video: “The Time They Are A-Changin'” sung by Phil Collins (composed by Bob Dylan, 1964):
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