The story of Willem and Elizabeth ten Boom and their descendants is a remarkable, century-long tale of Christian prayer and action, one filled with unselfish and self-sacrificing love for the Jewish people and the Jewish homeland.
By trade, Willem was a Dutch master watch and clock maker. He and Elizabeth opened their own clock shop in Haarlem, just outside Amsterdam, in 1837 and lived with their family in the small apartment above the shop. In time, this was to become the setting for not only prayer, but also dramatic life-saving action.
Beginning In 1844, the ten Booms opened their humble home every week to lead a group of Christians in prayer. Believing the ancient prophecies of the Bible, and moved by the injunction of Psalm 122:6 that reads, “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, may those who love her be secure,” they led their gathering in prayers for the Holy City of Jerusalem, its inhabitants, and for the Jews scattered around the world.
Their son Casper and his young wife Cornelia continued the tradition, joined by their children, Betsie, Corrie, Nollie and Willem. They were true advocates of Christian Zionism.
During World War II, the ten Booms lived out their Christian faith by making their home a refuge – a hiding place – for Jews and members of the Dutch underground who were being hunted by the Nazis. Through this, the ten Boom family and their many friends saved the lives of an estimated 800 Jews, and protected many Dutch underground workers.
The last weekly Jerusalem prayer meeting took place one hundred years to the day when Casper’s father and mother had started them. This long tradition ended tragically on February 28, 1944 with Corrie surviving to tell their story.
In those 100 years of faithful weekly gatherings, the ten Booms led 5,200 intercessory prayer meetings on behalf of the city of Jerusalem and the people of the Promise.