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Sat, Jan. 25

Christianity - the world is watching<BR>

An elderly Dutch lady by the name of Corrie ten Boom traveled the world, telling how her faith in God had given her enduring strength while in concentration camps in Holland and Germany during the second World War.

  Her family had hidden many Jews behind a secret wall they had built in their home during Hitler's reign. When they were finally found out, Corrie's whole family was divided up and sent to different camps; except for Corrie and her sister, Betsy. Miraculously, they had  been able to stay together. They both, along with all the other prisoners, received horrible treatment at the hands of cruel guards. Especially Betsy, who was frail, and died in one of those camps.

 When the war ended, Corrie was released. She began to write books, and to travel, speaking in churches and auditoriums all over the world. Corrie's message was one of love and forgiveness; allowing the love of Jesus to testify to the world what true Christianity really is.

 During one of Corrie's speaking engagements in Germany, a man from the audience came up to her after the service.

 "Corrie," he began. "You may not recognize me, but I was a guard in one of those concentration camps you spoke of."

 Corrie stared at him in disbelief. She did recognize him. She remembered him as being one of the cruelest of the cruel.

He continued. "I have come today to tell you that I have received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. I have become a Christian. I am asking you to forgive me for the inhuman treatment I brought upon you and your sister."

 With that, he extended his hand to her. His hand of forgiveness, and friendship.

 For what seemed like an eternity, Corrie looked into the face of that tormenting guard; the same one who had been especially cruel to Betsy. It seemed everything Corrie had been teaching for these years after the war stood in the balance. She had taught love, forgiveness, based upon the example of Jesus. Now, here she was, faced with an opportunity to live up to her own words. Here was an opportunity to practice what she had preached. Could she do it?

                                          PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH!

 That is a term we've heard all our lives. As children, we watched our elders practice what they preached - or not. We smirk at those who say one thing, then do another. We judge fellow Christians by the lives they live, claiming to be Christians while living secret, double lives behind closed doors.

We have seen men in churches carrying Bibles and singing hymns, knowing they beat their wives and children in private. We have wondered why they did not "practice what they preached."

Parents have taught their children not to lie, while they lie on their income tax report. They tell their children to tell an unpleasant caller on the phone, "I'm not home," when they are home. Then they try to explain the difference between a big lie, and a little white one.

Many people are turned off by Christianity because they have seen so little of it practiced before them. "Well, if that's Christianity, I want no part of it." Those angry words have been proclaimed far too often. Human weaknesses has been on display while claiming to be a Christian.

 I have heard all my life, "An ounce of example, is worth a ton of preaching."

Corrie ten Boom's Christian witness stood in the balance as she stared into the face of that German guard. Could she take his hand?  He waited patiently.

Nothing will keep you a prisoner quite like living your life filled with hatred, resentment and unforgiveness.

Jesus gave us the model prayer in The Lord's Prayer. "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."  A sobering thought.

At long last, Corrie did clasp his hand with both of hers, and said, "You are now my brother. My blood brother, through the Blood of Jesus."

Then, remembering The Lord's Prayer, she continued. "I do forgive you, because Christ has forgiven me."

She had stood the test. She felt no pride, only peace. She was more free at that point, than she was the day she had walked through the gates of that prison camp. She was free, inside as well as out.

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