It's not everyday a girl gets to meet a contemporary of Corrie ten Boom, or to have the distinct privilege of sharing her story with an international audience. See "The Resister" in the December 2015 issue of Christianity Today magazine, available in stores, or by online subscription. (A partial look at the feature here.)
Biggest lesson learned: never give up when the justice and love of Jesus are at stake.
In researching this story and meeting Eman, it soon became clear that God gifted her with a keen mind and a sharp wit that prepared her well to do what some would deem impossible. Indeed, I believe she wouldn't be here today without real miracles occurring as she sheltered over 60 Jews in the Netherlands, aiding up to 2,000 as a spy and worker in the Dutch Resistance.
In June of this year, Diet was scheduled to go on another missions trip to the Dominican Republic when she broke her leg. All was not lost, however. Those cheering her on were happy to know she had been honored by the reigning king of the Netherlands just days before. Such is the life—and the adventures—of Diet!
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Ten years have passed since I first heard the story of Holocaust Survivor and Dutch Resistance worker Diet Eman. I sat across the table from a friend who told me Diet would often drop by his office to deliver bananas. At the same time, he mentioned she was teaching him how to forgive. That same friend, John Evans, would go on to produce the documentary The Reckoning: Remembering the Dutch Resistance, featuring Eman and others.
Little did I know I would pick up her book Things We Couldn't Say years later, and that her story would become an illustration in my first church sermon on Psalm 91. A few years ago, I saw a musical reenacting her life and watched Eman take to the stage at the end, her trademark humor and wit captivating the audience.
As I began to research her story for a book of biographies, I was wowed at the skill (read: she knows at least four languages) and the sheer daring this precious woman has displayed throughout her life.
Although she kept her story quiet for years, it was her friend Corrie Ten Boom's willingness to speak that eventually convinced Diet she must share her story. That was in the 1970s—and to tell the truth, she's still "telling of the good things God has done."
Though her health kept me from meeting her for over a year, our recent visit brimmed with laughter, dead-center honesty over what she has experienced, and how she keeps going amidst post-traumatic stress.
You won't want to miss this six-page article in December's Christianity Today that includes other recommended resources. Meanwhile, Eman first inspired me to memorize Psalm 91, the psalm of protection, after reading her book several years ago. This year she challenged me in person to memorize Psalm 27, a psalm that carried her through the horrors of prison and concentration camp stays. "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?" Diet Eman inspires a new generation to faithful discipleship. How thankful I am to tell her story, that the world might know.
I remember some of her parting words to me: "God has given us two gifts," she explained. "The first is the gift of faith. The second is the gift of humor, that we might get through the hard things." My life and faith have been forever impacted by the spunk, daring, faith, and obedience of Berendina "Diet" Eman.
For more information on Diet's story, visit her book website at thingswecouldntsay.com. A perfect Christmas gift, written with the talented literary writer James Schaap.
Your turn: How does Diet's unusual story of courage inspire you in your walk with Christ? How might today's generation benefit from her example?
On #ReclaimingEve: “I recommend this resource for every daughter of Eve!”
— Nancy Beach, leadership coach, speaker; author, Gifted to Lead: The Art of Leading as a Woman in the Church