Today’s column is lovingly and prayerfully dedicated to a fine young Christian woman in our community, Valerie Clara Sallee, daughter of Pastor Richard Sallee of First Baptist Church of High Island. I am impressed with Valerie as a person, as a church leader, as a daughter, and most of all, as a Christian who wants to serve God and her fellow man. She reminds me a bit of Corrie ten Boom, whom I have long admired.
Recently, Valerie posed a question as to the timing of God in her own life. She was wondering, as we all do from time to time, when God was going to give her clear direction as to the important decisions she should make about future education, what her life’s work would be, and where she would serve.
Valerie, in my opinion, is a youth worthy of our attention. Richard told me a bit of the family story when I interviewed him for an article for a charity in our area. He and his wife were active in ministry, serving the Lord and helping to start a new church in Texas when she was diagnosed with cancer. Richard’s heart was breaking, but he and the family took care of his wife until she died a little over three years ago. He has done a fine job of rearing the two girls I know and his son away in seminary. The girls contributed some charity work here on the Bolivar Peninsula after Hurricane Ike and loved the area. They also discovered that the First Baptist Church needed a pastor and went home and shared their vision with their father. The rest is history, as the saying goes. Both Sallee daughters are students at High Island High Schoo,l and Valerie leads the youth work at her church.
As I read over Valerie’s question and thoughts, I was quickly reminded of the story of the beloved Corrie ten Boom. I read her book, “The Hiding Place,” many years ago and loved it so much that I sought and obtained permission to divide the chapters up into teachable lessons for my intermediates in Sunday school. I taught her life story for six weeks and still to this day remember clearly the impact it had on me. I have often used a quote from her life experience to share with others and to include in my own writings. Corrie ten Boom was a remarkable woman, and if you have not read her works, then put those on your personal bucket list.
Ten Boom was born December 13, 1901 in Amsterdam, Netherlands and died in California on April 15, 1983. She cites her father, Casper ten Boom, as one of the largest influences in her life. She and her family were Christians who were active in social work in their home town of Haarlem, the Netherlands. During the Nazi occupation, they chose to live out their faith through peaceful resistance to the Nazis by active participation in the Dutch underground. They were hiding, feeding and transporting Jews and underground members hunted by the Gestapo out of the country. It is estimated that they were able to save the lives of over 800 Jewish people, in addition to protecting underground workers.
On Feb. 28, 1944, they were betrayed and Ten Boom and several relatives were arrested. The four Jews and two underground workers in the house at the time of the arrest were not located by the Nazis and were extricated by the underground 47 hours after they fled to the tiny hiding place, which was Ten Boom’s small room.
The family members were separated and transferred to concentration camps. Ten Boom was allowed to stay with her precious sister, Betsy. Her father, two of his children, Wilhelm and Betsy, and one grandchild, Christian, perished. Ten Boom was released due to a typographical error, which she believed was an act of God, in December 1944. Her global writing and speaking career began after her release and she continued in ministry until she died. Ten Boom received many awards for her writing and speaking and was honored by Israel for her work in aid of the Jewish people by being invited to plant a tree in the famous Avenue of the Righteous Gentiles at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, near Jerusalem. She was also knighted by the queen of the Netherlands in recognition of her work during the war, and a museum in the Dutch city of Haarlem is dedicated to her and her family.
The story that grabbed my attention and stuck with me all these years is about a conversation Ten Boom had with her father, whom she admired greatly. She confided in her father as a child that she feared death and was not quite sure she had the strength to be a martyr should she be called on to do so. Her father asked, “When we take the train to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?”
“No, Daddy,” answered Corrie, “you give it to me just before we get on the train.”
“That is right,” said the wise old man, “and so it is with God’s strength. Our Father in Heaven knows when and how you will need the strength. He will supply it all just in time, but not earlier.”
So, I write to Valerie, “When God is ready for you to have the answers to these and other questions, you will have them, not a day early, not a day late. Just when you need them and right on time.” I have lived long enough now to see that Ten Boom’s memory of her father’s story was one of the best illustrations of Christian living I’ve ever seen, and I’ve tried to put it into practice in my own life.
Brenda Cannon Henley is an award-winning journalist and writer living on the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast. Having enjoyed more than four decades in ministry, Brenda shares her columns with our readers and works with churches and faith-based programs nationwide. She can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.