not I

And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us

more and more like him as

we are changed into his glorious image.

(2 Corinthians 3:18)

Tears streamed down my face as I read the verse on the wall.

I stood with my husband and daughter on the third-floor landing of the old, wooden stairs in the famous home of Corrie ten Boom in Harlem, Holland. Two floors below us, stood the former ten Boom clock shop.

The believing Dutch family, who had lived above their store and hid Jews during World War II, has become heroes to both Jews and Christians.  So much has been written about their lives since then, and countless people have been inspired to follow their footsteps into salvation and love of the Jewish people.

I felt so honored to visit the ten Boom home in Holland; and as I stood on the rickety, wooden landing, I gazed at the picture on the wall. I pondered the family that had hung it. Pressed behind glass and the dusty and battered frame, these simple words appeared in the center of the picture, “Not I but Christ.”

For a few minutes, I closed my eyes and pictured the family living there before the war. I felt that I could almost hear their prayers, laughter, disagreements, and celebrations over the years. I also imagined the cold days of the war and the Jewish people hidden in their home for months. There must have been great tension and peace at once. The courage it took to risk their lives overwhelmed me. The love that it took to house and feed and love those whom they did not know but whom they loved according to God’s Word — the very apple of His eye!

I wondered if their hearts drew encouragement from the words framed on their wall, “Not I but Christ.”

My family had been living as missionaries in Odessa, Ukraine, for three years. We had pioneered the first Messianic Jewish Bible Institute for believing Jews, who sought to serve the Lord in ministry — who came to realize their long-awaited Messiah was and is Jesus, Yeshua in Hebrew.

Our beginning was tough. Communism had just fallen, and parts of Ukraine were about 100 years behind the United States. Sometimes the difficulties we faced in learning a new culture and language in a third-world country and poverty conditions often discouraged us. Who were we? Just pampered Americans who felt a call to go…

We had taken a break in the states and had stopped in Holland on our way back to Ukraine. Honestly, I dreaded returning. It would be more of the same hardships… lack of water and electricity, poor living conditions, red tape, lack of simple solutions to common problems, complications, strange culture and traditons, etc.

But as I stood there reading those words over and over, the Holy Spirit breathed the hope of my salvation into my heart. He breathed joy in the going. And I knew that if Corrie could hide Jews, be sent to a concentration camp, endure it, and travel the world later with a message of love and forgiveness, surely I could return to Odessa. At the moment, I didn’t feel strong, but I grabbed the hope offered at the moment to take the next step.

Yes, “Not I but Messiah.” The words pierced my heart. I drew courage.

We returned to Odessa that day, and I am so glad we did! Since then by the grace of God other schools and congregations have sprung up… Russia, Korea, Israel, Brazil, Argentina, Israel, Mexico, Hungary, Ethiopia.

I am so grateful that God enabled me to press forward, knowing that the future was about Him—not me.

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