Shareen Liggins, Secondary Teacher, English
I love teaching English! Not just because I get to engage with new texts, as well as reread old favourites and not just because I get to share my love of literature and language with new generations of students! I love teaching English because I enjoy seeing students grappling with ideas about their world in ways they might never have done before. I enjoy encouraging them to think critically about the books, films, song lyrics, and social media they consume, which is such an important skill, isn’t it? The Bible urges us not to be passive consumers of our culture, to uncritically accept what it tells us about ourselves, but to be ready to engage with it, to reflect upon it and to challenge it. This is one of my great joys and priorities in teaching English.
Recently, Year 9 has been exploring texts linked to themes of courage and survival. Some of these texts urge us to find strength to face life’s challenges from within; to survive by being strong and determined. Some extol the value of love and community; surviving through the support of others. These are good things, in themselves, but we all know there are times when even these supports fail us.
As Year 9 considered these ideas, it was exciting to be able to share some extracts from The Hiding Place, the story of Corrie Ten Boom’s experiences as a prisoner of the Nazi’s for her part in hiding Jews from the holocaust. I remember how much I loved her book as a teenager and how inspired I was by her courage and faith. As we read about some of her experiences, I was reminded of something that our Christian community could perhaps be encouraged by, especially at present: “there is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still” (Corrie Ten Boom: The Hiding Place).
Corrie Ten Boom certainly had courage but she had something more than that. She had a relationship with a Father who has promised never to abandon His children and who sent His Son into the world so that we could be called the children of God (1 John 3:1). At no point is her story about how great her own courage is (although she was certainly an amazing person). In the midst of great suffering, fear and, often, lack of faith, Corrie sees God at work in amazing ways, again and again. She even learns to give Him thanks for fleas!! Corrie’s story reminds us that, for Christians, courage and our ability to survive the many challenges of life come from a God whose power to overcome them is infinite.
If you’ve never read The Hiding Place, I encourage you to do so (or watch the excellent 1975 film). Can I also encourage you to continue to partner with me (and all our wonderful Kuyper staff) in challenging your young people to ‘not conform to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed’ by His word so that they can discern God’s ‘good, pleasing and perfect will’ (Romans 12:2).
Let me leave you with some encouraging responses from Year 9 to Corrie’s story:
We can learn from Corrie’s example to treasure God’s word, and to protect it. It gave her the chance to share the love of Jesus with others when there was a risk to her life for preaching. Her courage, strength and belief in God sets a good example for us.
Corrie put her trust in God and put Him in charge. Many people became Christians because she had that faith, because she trusted that God had a plan. ¨God is still God in Ravensbruck¨.
…l have learnt that we can rely on God to help us through, no matter what. Corrie was in the darkest possible pit and yet God helped her, and pulled her through. She survived, with courage to spare, because she trusted and prayed to God… From reading ‘The Hiding Place’ and learning from Corrie’s story, I now know that God will help, no matter what. He will always help us to survive and persevere, even in the most difficult situations.