Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983)

     In September 1944 Corrie and her sister Betsie were at the edge of the pit. Even though Ravensbruck was not an extermination camp but a work camp, under the Nazis the two were virtually the same thing. How long could underfed women move great cartloads of steel from a factory to railway freight cars? Still, in all her months of confinement by the Nazis Corrie had her Bible. But this comfort too seemed lost as they entered Ravensbruck.
     She and Betsie shuffled along in a line of prisoners being 'processed'. First the prisoners dropped their blankets and pillow cases into a pile. How it hurt to surrender those. Would they be replaced? One couldn't assume any decency from Nazis. But that pain was nothing compared to the loss of their Bible. For that would surely be discovered next. They had to strip and surrender their old prison clothes before taking a shower. Corrie had her Bible hidden in a pouch hung around her neck, so the guards would surely see it. Not only would she lose the Bible but she would get severely punished for having it.
     'Oh please, Jesus,' she prayed, 'allow us to keep your precious word.'
     Betsie suddenly doubled over.
     "Don't shoot," Corrie implored the guard in German. "She has diarrhea."
     "Well, don't let her do it here!" he snarled in disgust. "Get her in there."  He pointed at the shower room.
     Corrie helped Betsie into the shower room. It was empty! They must have been between groups. Corrie hid the pouch with the Bible behind a wooden bench crawling with roaches. Stacked at the other end of the shower room were the new prison clothes they were to wear. Then they returned to the line, shed their old clothes and returned to the shower. After a blast of icy water Corrie was dressed in new prison garb - plus one Bible hung around her neck. But she soon saw her problems were not over. Security was so tight at Ravensbruck that guards were frisking prisoners
after they left the shower.
     'Oh please, Jesus, give me another miracle. Hide me with your angels.'
     They marched slowly past guards who searched every woman from head to toe with groping hands. Rude hands covered the woman in front of Corrie. Rude hands covered Betsie behind Corrie. But no hands touched Corrie. She was invisible to the guards. Perhaps coincidence could explain the first miracle - Betsie really did have diarrhea - but coincidence could not explain the second miracle. Corrie was sure now that she was in the hands of the Lord.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherill, 1971]

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"Don't shoot!" Corried begged the Nazi guard.

Behind barbed wire.

Mother Teresa  (1910-1997)

     Mother Teresa was interviewed on television by Malcolm Muggeridge in 1968. Muggeridge was a florid-faced imp. A life-long cynic he had lived in India and didn't hide his dismay at Mother Teresa's hopeless efforts there. Afterward he thought the interview itself was hopelessly boring. Some on the crew acted as if they would be just as happy if the interview was never shown at all.
     Later she was told the program was received like no other in Muggeridge's career. The program had to be repeated. Mother Teresa had not asked for money but money poured into BBC. With it came the common message that she had reached their heart as no one else before. BBC asked if they could film her at her work for a one-hour television program. She gave the film crew five days in 1969. Muggeridge arrived in Calcutta too, looking befuddled.
     Muggeridge was hostile to organized religion but of all the crew he showed up every morning at Mass. At the House of Dying the small miracle happened that happened to all visitors: horror, then paralysis, then pity, then personal contact. From contact with the battered, the elderly, the diseased, the visitor came to realize the pitiful creatures were real people, endearing and lovable. Thus came love. How could one not give comfort to beloved friends?
     But the film crew said filming inside the House of Dying was impossible. The light was too poor to film. They filmed anyway. To make sure they came away with something they filmed patients in the sunshine of a courtyard. They went on to film the House of Children. They filmed the schools, the lepers.  More and more often Muggeridge was so overcome he stumbled off camera in tears. When he learned lepers were making money by printing pamphlets on a press bought by Mother Teresa he was confounded. "But what do you know of printing presses?  How do you..." The questions died in his throat.
     The crew finished their filming, certain much of the film was useless. Often the cans of sensitive film sat baking in the Calcutta sun. And there were all the lighting problems in hopelessly dim interiors. Mother Teresa shrugged. God would decide if the film was part of His plan or not. Later Muggeridge wrote her that the film, much of which they were ready to scrap, turned out beautifully - especially in the House of Dying. There was no logic to it. It simply could not have happened. But Muggeridge knew why it happened and he explained why to everyone who would listen: Love illuminated the interior of the House of Dying!
     He went on to write
Something Beautiful for God, a tender book about Mother Teresa's work, and relentlessly promoted her for the Nobel Peace Prize!

[ sources:
Something Beautiful for God by Malcolm Muggeridge, 1971, and Such a Vision of the Street by Eileen Egan, 1985]

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Mother Teresa

     After Mother Teresa was allowed to expand her order from Calcutta into all of India in 1960 she had a new problem. How could she visit her Missionaries of Charity scattered over such an immense nation? Travel on Indian Air was very expensive, so she volunteered to earn her passage by serving passengers as a hostess!
     The airline official visualized a tiny 52-year-old nun pushing a cart up and down the aisle. "I don't think so, Mother."
     But Mother Teresa asked again and again.
     Apparently her requests reached the highest echelons of government. An apologetic airline official called her. Yes, she could have free passes on India's airlines. She wouldn't even have to serve drinks!




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