One-women show to tell Corrie ten Boom’s story
Dutch women kept hundreds of Jews out of the hands of Nazis
Her love for people of the Jewish faith motivated Corrie ten Boom to risk her life and hide them from the Nazis during World War II.
Susie Sandager's desire to tell Corrie's story motivated her to take a risk and become an actress about 12 years ago.
Sandager, who has taken her shows all over the world, will present "Corrie Remembers" at 6 p.m. April 22 at Bedford United Methodist Church, 132 E. John St., Bedford. The church's Christians United for Israel team was instrument in bringing Sandager to the area.
Karen Rowlett of Bedford said the event also is being sponsored by Love in the Name of Christ, a nondenominational ministry based in Everett that addresses needs throughout Bedford County.
Rowlett, a member of Bedford United Methodist Church and CUFI, said she heard about Sandager's ministry while attending the annual summit for CUFI in Washington, D.C. She said CUFI supports Israel and educates others about honoring Israel and Jewish people.
Rowlett said ten Boom's story is encouraging and inspirational for anyone, including today's youth who are subject to many pressures.
She said ten Boom's story makes "you realize you can get through anything, that anything is possible."
Sandager's one-woman drama is about Corrie ten Boom's life in Holland and how her family's rescue operation was uncovered, resulting in Corrie and her sister, Betsie, eventually being sent to Ravensbruck women's concentration camp in Germany.
Sandager calls Corrie "the Oskar Schindler of the evangelical world."
The ten Booms were among the few Christians in Europe who rescued Jews and spared about 800 Jews and many Dutch underground workers, according to the Corrie ten Boom House Foundation's website.
It was that compassion that inspired Sandager to tell ten Boom's story.
As she developed in her Christian faith as an adult, Sandager said she became more aware of the guarded attitudes between Christians and Jews that has existed for centuries.
She said Christians originated the estrangement despite Christianity being based on a man who was Jewish.
Sandager said she wanted to find a way to bridge the gap by bringing understanding and appreciation for the Jewish faith to the Christian community.
Residents of Albuquerque, N.M., she and her husband, John, founded Yad B' Yad, which is Hebrew for hand in hand more than a decade ago.
To engage Jews and Christians, speakers share about their Jewish beliefs and culture or sometimes Christians give talks at the group's gatherings.
Inspired by Corrie ten Boom's story, Sandager wanted an actress to portray the concentration camp survivor, who told her story in 64 countries before dying on her 91st birthday on April 15, 1983.
Although the story originally became well known after John and Elizabeth Sherill co-wrote "The Hiding Place," in 1971 and a movie was made in 1975, Sandager wanted someone to re-enact the story for Yad B'Yad. The woman she asked turned down the request.
"The actress said the role demanded a Christian actress, but she should be someone who loved the Jewish people," Sandager said.
"Rejected, I went home and started to read the books I had collected on the ten Booms [as research] for the actress," she said.
She wrote a script and decided to play the role herself. She spent days learning to speak English with a heavy Dutch accent, but her biggest challenge was overcoming stage fright.
"I had no theatrical background," she said. "The only way I could do it was if the audience kept their eyes closed."
The audience consisted of her friends who obliged her. Finally, she felt comfortable enough to perform to a wider audience.
"[From that time], I have never stopped during it," she said, "and I have done it all over the world."
In the "Corrie Remembers" drama, Sandager portrays Corrie in her 80s. She recounts how she and her family stood with the Jewish people during the Holocaust, were arrested and sent to prison.
The ten Booms owned a watch shop in Haarlem, Holland, and lived above it. A false wall was built in Corrie's bedroom where Jewish people hid from the Gestapo.
Looking back on that time, Sandager said she sometimes thinks about Anne Frank and her sister, Margot, who were hiding in an area behind a false bookcase about 13 miles away in Amsterdam while Corrie and her sister, Betsie, were protecting Jews in Haarlem.
Although Sandager never had the opportunity to meet ten Boom, Dr. Ronald Markwood of Bedford has. Markwood, also a member of Bedford United Methodist Church and the CUFI team, said he met her at a conference for Christians of all faiths in 1973 in Pittsburgh.
He said, "I wanted to give her some credit for her Christian witness."
The optometrist remembers how ten Boom would not take credit for her accomplishments.
"She said, 'Jesus did that for us,'" Markwood said. "She was a very gracious person."
Sandager presents at least three or four one-woman shows as Corrie ten Boom a month at churches, synagogues and community events throughout the United States and in Israel.
At the end of her program, Sandager acknowledges other rescuers from every Nazi-occupied country.
"So few were a light in the darkness," she said.