The Hiding Place: A powerful story of unwavering faith

Nan Gurley as Corrie ten Boom in The Hiding Place.

The Hiding Place is a new cinema adaptation telling the true story of how Corrie ten Boom and her family risked their lives to smuggle persecuted Jewish refugees to freedom during World War II.

Corrie was born in Haarlem, in the Netherlands, into a family of watchmakers in the late 1800s and she became the first licensed female watchmaker in the country. When the War broke out, she helped many Jews escape the Nazis until finally being caught and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp which, remarkably, she survived. After the War, she dedicated her life to sharing the message of faith and forgiveness.

Christian Today spoke with lead star of The Hiding Place, Nan Gurley, to hear her thoughts on Corrie's life and the lessons on faith the film presents.

How did Corrie's faith aid her in supporting the Jewish people?

I think at the heart of it, Corrie believed beyond any doubt in the sovereignty of God. She understood even in this most stressful time of her life that God was in control, that He had a plan. She was putting her life on the line. At any point in the day or night she could have been killed for what she was doing and yet she decided God is on the throne. He has not moved from that place of authority, He knows what's going on and He's going to work this out.

Corrie and her family were hiding the Jews in their home at the risk of their own safety. Their bravery stemmed from their Christian faith. How has your own faith been encouraged by participating in this production?

You cannot look at this story without asking yourself the question 'if I was faced with something similar, what would I do?'. I take heart and I'm encouraged by the fact that Corrie and her father and sister were prepared for this moment for a lot of reasons. Firstly her great grandfather years earlier had started a weekly prayer meeting there in that same home for the Jews.

Anti-Semitism was rising in 1844 and he started this weekly prayer group to pray for the safety of the Jews. What he did not realise was that he was laying an intercessory ground work for his own descendents to be prepared for the hour that was coming, when Hitler took over and began annihilating Jews.

Corrie, her sister Betsie and father Casper had a tradition of hospitality in their home. By taking people into their home, they just continued doing what they had always done, but this time the stakes were a matter of life and death. I take courage from seeing how the Ten Booms were already practising a hidden faithfulness.

What attracted you to the role of Corrie Ten Boom?

It's thrilling, it's an honour to play a real person as wonderful as Corrie Ten Boom. I was attracted to this role because Corrie is a hero of mine and a hero for a lot of people. To have the privilege to tell the story of her is the honour of my life. It's a thrill to tell a story that has such eternal significance.

As a Christian yourself what lessons did you learn from studying Corrie's life?

The Ten Booms successfully carried on their mission rescuing Jews for two years, then Corrie and Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. Even though they had moments of doubt and fear, she and Betsie were able to triumph through this suffering.

They were successful in getting a Bible into the concentration camp and after they worked a 12 hour shift of exhausting labour, they would go back to Barracks 28 where they lived in Ravensbruck and hold Bible studies. The guards would not come into the barracks because of the flea infestation. Corrie and Betsie were grateful for the fleas because it gave them the freedom to have Bible study every night and to share the gospel with the women there.

Somehow they were able to take the experience of a concentration camp and not make it about them. They grasped the opportunity to share Christ to women who were desperate to find meaning and hope in this seemingly hopeless situation. What I take away from that is to ask God what He in His sovereignty will allow me to walk through that I can make into an opportunity to glorify him in whatever position he puts me in like Corrie and Betsie did.

That is very profound - praising and worshipping God is not always kept in the confines of a church building. People can be in a concentration camp, a place filled with deep despair, and still find it in themselves to worship, pray and read the Bible.

Corrie and Betsie were able to see a bigger picture in what they were suffering and led many women to Christ. Corrie, in one of her books, tells this interesting story and this is one of my favourite moments. She says that Betsie would be reading the scripture on her bunk with the women surrounding her all pressed in, they were cramped in a very small space. Corrie writes about how Betsie would translate scripture into German. It would then be translated into Russian and they would hear it whispered from Russian to French and then from French to Czech and Polish. So Barracks 28 was filled with the whispers of these women translating the Bible verses into their own languages. In fact Barracks 28 in Ravensbruck was talked about and known as the 'crazy place' where they hoped.

What for you is the main message of the film?

Corrie wrote about a moment when she was young speaking to her father about her fear of not being ready for moments in life where she would be called upon to do something she didn't think she would be able to do. Caspar recalls a time when she would go and visit her aunt in Amsterdam and he asked if she remembered when he gave her the ticket before they got on the train. She recalled him giving her a ticket right before she got on the train. He said it is also true that our heavenly father will give the tickets she needs to go on any journey he plans for her. He will give it to you right in the moments that you need it and she clung to that truth all her life.

That to me is the most powerful message because it applies to all of us whatever time we're living in. Corrie lived through World War II. We have been chosen to live in this hour, it's no accident. He has the ticket for each one of us for the things He asks us to do. That to me is one of the many encouraging and powerful messages of this story.

Corrie had the help of her family when she was hiding Jews from the Nazis. How important is family in the film?

Betsie and Corrie's sisterhood sustained them, especially in Ravensbruck. Nobody can help you like family, and their bond was a huge source of encouragement and strength to both of them as they lived together side by side in Barracks 28. Corrie says that her most difficult time after being captured was the four months she spent in solitary confinement separated from Betsie.

Family was extremely important, everyone had a role to play. The actual hiding place that they built was behind a false wall in Corrie's bedroom where they could hide six people at a time. It was 2 feet wide and 8 feet tall. Betsie 's role was to cook, Corrie's role was to stay on the phone all day and arrange to get illegal ration cards and arrange to move the people that were with them onto the next safe house.

In your research for the role of Corrie were there any aspects of her life that stood out to you the most?

I would say it was the lifestyle of faithfulness. Corrie was all about the gospel. Even before it was dangerous to live for the gospel she had a real servant's heart and was really community orientated. That's had a real impact on me. Seeing this everyday love of Jesus that was manifested in the family's lives was hugely informative to me on a personal level as well as the ability to interpret her character in the film and on stage.

What impact do you hope for the film to have on audiences?

We learned that it sold so well in Australia that they had to add more viewings of the film in theatres. For the global release we are hoping that it will be hugely successful and that more people will come to know the story of the ten Booms during World War II. This story needs to be told to every generation until Jesus comes back. We here in Nashville are very thrilled that we get a part to play in continuing telling this great story to the world.

The filmed stage-play is set to be released globally on August 16th. For more information, visit