“Elder Jacob de Jager of the First Quorum of the Seventy,” Ensign, May 1976, 136
Intently and earnestly, Brother de Jager quotes the thought that he calls “my Liahona”: “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.” He smiles, a joyous smile, “That is strongly written in me.”
Born in The Hague, he is the first man of his nation called to be a General Authority. He has served with love and kindness as counselor in the elders quorum presidency in Toronto; as Sunday School superintendent in Mexico City; as branch president in Nijmegen, the Netherlands; as a counselor in the presidency of the Netherlands Mission; and as Regional Representative to the Netherlands, Spain, and France. Remarkably international in his background and experience, his fluency in four languages he calls a “gift,” but he developed it with hard study during almost two years of hiding from labor conscription during World War II.
About that last assignment, he quoted Alma 29:8, “The Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have,” then added his personal testimony: “I studied that scripture and prayed about it and I know why I was called to be a Regional Representative.” He tells of meeting with the small priesthood class in Barcelona and telling those new members: “You are now in the school of the prophets and I am their messenger.”
Elder de Jager describes his family as “international”—a modest understatement. In Indonesia, “10,000 miles from home,” he met and married his wife, Bea Lim, who is Dutch-Chinese. Their son Robert Michael was born in Java and was the first missionary called to the new Djakarta Indonesia Mission in June 1975. Their daughter Audrey Inez was born in Toronto.
“My wife,” he says emphatically, “gives me 100 percent support. We haven’t had a vacation as a family in ten years but our compensation was that the children had opportunities to meet such wonderful people in the Church and that we were always united through our prayers.”
In his patriarchal blessing, given in Mesa, Arizona, while they were living in Mexico, “the Lord revealed to me that my wife had been given to me as a companion to be helpful in building the kingdom and that I had known her and loved her in the preexistence.” His eyes crinkled, “And it’s very unusual to have that in writing.”
He had unstinting praise also for his former company, Philips Electronics. (He was sales vice-president of a large incandescent lamp factory.) Because of it, he has traveled all over the world with opportunities on every continent for missionary work. When conference assignments ate up his vacation time, they granted him a few more days here and there—“thirty days of paid vacation in 1975,” he marveled. They telephoned “full understanding, great admiration, and congratulations” when he telegraphed his resignation Saturday afternoon.
He left, his long stride devouring the distance to his next appointment, leaving behind a firm handshake, a warm smile, and a great exit line: “See you in church!”