Envision Thelma and Louise blowin’ and goin’ over the hills of Woodford County. Horse farms flanking both sides of these country roads were made complete with horses frolicking in the fields. We’re talkin’ some kind of sweet Kentucky scenery!
While my dear friend, Sherry Leavell, captained her car, yours truly had the job of feverishly reading our MapQuest to “get us to the church on time”. (Hum a few bars…)
Sherry’s daughter, Laura, told us about a significant event at the Chapel Service of Asbury Theological Seminary (ATS) on December 9th. We were determined not to miss it!
Both Asbury campuses are situated picturesquely in the city of Wilmore, Kentucky. (Asbury University: www.asbury.edu and Asbury Theological Seminary: www.asburyseminary.edu ) The city is akin to stepping back into time.
We met several friends there: Nancy Sleeth and Pam Stein VanArsdall from Lexington, Sarah Grace Bloyd, who’s a student at Asbury University, and Evan Wehrle, a student at ATS (and friend of all three of our boys.) We filled a pew and excitedly waited for the service to begin.
The chapel was beautifully decorated for Christmas. The current Chaplain, Jessica LaGrone, opened the service, telling us we were about to witness a “piece of history.”
(You can learn more about Jessica and her many talents from this link)
We stood while students from all over the world marched in bearing candles. My favorite sight to behold included a beautiful African American girl holding up a very large, opened Bible which she placed upon a stand at the altar.
The worship band led us in traditional Christmas carols and contemporary worship songs. These kids’ talent blessed our socks off. We felt as if we were standing on holy ground.
The icing on the cake came from an amazing couple, Bob and Ellen Stamps, who served at Asbury for four years. Bob was the Chaplain there until they retired this year.
Ellen has many fascinating claims to fame, one of which includes her being Corrie ten Boom’s Personal Assistant for nearly ten years. Ellen wrote a book, My Years with Corrie, about their many only-God-could-pull-this-off-experiences.
At the end of Ellen’s tenure, Corrie wanted to give Ellen a gift. She decided to give Ellen and Bob the clock Corrie’s Father wound every night while they were hiding the Jews in their home.
The program from the service informed us, “We revere the courage, love, and faith the ten Boom family demonstrated to the world as they risked their own lives to help save eight hundred Jewish people during the Holocaust in World War II.
Their courage and faith came from their belief in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The last thing Corrie’s Father did, before her whole family was taken away by the Nazis in 1944 to the concentration camps, was to wind the clock. He died ten days later. Corrie’s sister, Betsie, also died after a brief time with Corrie in the camp.
Ellen’s moving sermon reminded all of us that we carry the Gospel and must share it with all who cross our path. We also learned that Psalm 91, which we read earlier in the service, was Corrie’s favorite. She truly believed the Lord was her refuge, a phrase repeated frequently in it.
Ellen said, “Everyone must bring the message of Christ. We must share there’s no pit so deep that Jesus isn’t deeper still to rescue us.” She continued, “We mustn’t bury our talent whether one or ten. We must give of our talents—not hide them as the servant did in the Parable of the Talents.” (She pointed us to Matthew 25: 14-30.)
The purpose of this incredible Chapel service was for Ellen and Bob to present the clock that Corrie gave her to ATS. While the wording in the program said the Stamps were “loaning” the clock to Asbury, Ellen quipped, “Yes, it says the clock is ‘on loan’, but I’m seventy-five years old!!! We know you will care for it and keep it safe.”
If you’ve seen The Hiding Place movie, this beautiful clock is in it! It belonged to the ten Boom family for one hundred and fifty years in Haarlem, Holland.
The path the clock has traveled is astonishing. Once shipped from Holland to the United States, Ellen and Bob kept praying about what to do with it.
A ninety year-old clockmaker who worked at Monticello repaired the clock after its’ transatlantic journey. He relayed he was honored to have worked on it knowing of Corrie’s tremendous ministry. He died shortly thereafter.
Because of Corrie’s stay and miraculous release from the concentration camps, the Stamps decided she would’ve approved of it being in the Holocaust Museum in Richmond, VA where it stayed for years.
After their remarkable experience at Asbury, Ellen and Bob were so taken with the students and with Asbury’s heart for missions, they felt Corrie would have loved the clock to be at Asbury. After all, she lived her entire life as a missionary!
Following Ellen’s sermon, Bob led us in communion. His booming, enthusiastic voice was contagious as it exuded heartfelt worship of our Lord. Sherry and I realized we both had an aha! moment thanks to Bob.
He prayed that while we were at the Communion Table, we would commune with the saints of old, that perhaps while we were partaking of communion, we’d be in community with the ten Boom family. What an eternal perspective and comforting visual!!!
After communion, we were dismissed to the Administration Building’s Lobby where the clock is hanging. We participated in a brief “Litany for the Dedication of the ten Boom Clock.”
(Sherry and I were amazed at the size of the clock. We’d pictured a small desk clock, not this large-yet-intricate wall clock, nearly the size of a Grandfather clock!)
Dr. Timothy C. Tennent led us thru’ responses, a few of which I’d love to share with you:
“Now is the time of God’s favor.
Now is the day of salvation…
We trust in you, O Lord and say, ‘You are our God.’
Our times are in your hands.
For His choice servants, the ten Boom family:
We give our praise and thanks to God…
Grant, that, by Your grace, Asbury Theological Seminary will continue to teach the faith once delivered to the saints.
Hear our prayer.”
Friends, please keep ATS students and staff on your prayer radar.
Here’s a great shot (above) of Ellen and Bob after the dedication. Following our responses, there was an unveiling of a plaque which hangs right next to the clock. It has the amazing story of the clock inscribed on it.
Dr. Tennent also read from Ecclesiastes, Chapter Three which reminds us about time. This passage offers thirty different kinds of time/seasons we may experience. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) Ellen said Corrie believed that each season prepares us for the next.
After the service, Sherry and I stole a few more minutes with Ellen. It was a bit of a reunion as Sherry and I were blessed to have had lunch with her this past May, which was another adventure! LUNCH WITH A MODERN DAY SAINT MAKES FOR AN EXTRAORDINARY DAY
Ellen and Bob had other commitments afterwards, so Nancy, Pam, Sarah Grace, Sherry and I headed to the Cafeteria for lunch to catch up. Two hours later (!!!), we sadly said our goodbyes and returned to Louisville.
We were filled to overflowing, beyond blessed by witnessing a piece of history, thanks to a faithful “Tramp for the Lord” as Corrie called herself. She’d be so proud of Ellen and Bob Stamps and the legacy they’re leaving everywhere they land. “Jesus is Victor” was Corrie’s and still is Ellen’s favorite reminder to bless all who they encounter.
Blessings to Bob and Ellen Stamps and HUGE Congratulations to Asbury Theological Seminary!
Who knows where Thelma and Louise will venture next. Stay tuned…
‘Til next time!