“Julie Jacobs: Her Lamp Is Shining in Holland,” Ensign, Aug. 1986, 45–46
An old man once walked the foggy London streets carrying a brightly burning lamp. A boy approached him, saying, “I will give you a shilling if you can guide me to my hotel.” The man lifted his lamp and took the boy to the appointed location. When they arrived the man received not one, but three shillings, because two other men who were lost had also followed the light through the fog.
“The light that we shine will be seen by the people around us, often without us knowing it,” says Sister Julie Jacobs, relating one of her favorite stories from the Ster, the international Church magazine in the Netherlands.
“I’ve become a happy member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” says Sister Jacobs, a wide grin spreading across her face. The 71-year-old resident of Rijswijk, Netherlands, has overcome adversity and served the Lord since her conversion twenty-four years ago.
Born in Semarang, Indonesia, in 1914, Julie was one of six children. Her father died when she was eight, and her Chinese mother, who had been disowned by her family for marrying a Dutchman, was unable to take care of her children. Julie lived with a foster family for several years until the family was reunited.
Julie finished school, earning a degree in education, and worked as a secretary until she met Rudolf Jacobs, whom she married in 1938. When World War II started, Rudolf, an experienced pilot, was called into action and soon became a Japanese prisoner of war.
Julie, pregnant with twins, was left to care for her infant son. As she struggled for the next three years to provide for her children, she sold knitting and other handiwork, trading everything she could to obtain food.
Rudolf returned from the POW camp very sick and underweight, and the family decided to move to the Netherlands where better medical help was available. So in 1947 Julie left Indonesia, not realizing she would never return to the land of her birth.
Six years later Rudolf Jacobs was killed in a plane crash and Julie was again left to provide for her family—four children ranging from ages five to fourteen. She went to work teaching typing and shorthand. In 1960 Julie suffered another blow when her oldest son was killed in a car accident.
Reeling under the loss—“It felt like part of my body had been torn away”—Julie experienced a crisis of faith.
“I couldn’t understand why I had to go through this,” she says. “I struggled every morning and evening to bend my knees in prayer, like I was used to doing, but I found I could not pray.”
Even though Julie had never attended a church, she had a strong belief in God that pulled her through. “After a while I heard a voice that seemed to repeat, ‘And still God is love.’”
She began to pray once more. “In thankfulness to my Father in Heaven, I searched for a church where I could serve him.” One rainy evening in 1962, two LDS missionaries knocked on the Jacobs’ door.
Not long after, one of Julie’s sons was baptized, followed by her sister and mother. But Julie was not yet convinced. The evening before her daughter was to be baptized, a missionary challenged her to pray in an effort to gain a testimony of the gospel.
“I did not promise the missionary anything,” Julie remembers. “And when I said my prayers that night I did not mention the Church. But in the middle of the night I woke up with an urgent need to ask Father in Heaven if this was indeed the true church where I could serve him.
“Never had I prayed so sincerely or for so long. And never had I felt God’s love and strength as I did on that night. When my prayer was over, I saw the sun shining through the curtains.
As I gazed outside in the early morning hour, I felt a happiness and peace I had not known since before my son’s death,” she recalls, her face reflecting the wonder of that morning a quarter century ago. She was baptized that day along with her daughter.
For the next twenty-one years Sister Jacobs served in the Relief Society, including five years as Relief Society president of The Hague Netherlands Stake. “It wasn’t always easy, but during those years I learned to kneel in prayer often to receive the help and inspiration I needed.”
Three times a year a special week in the London Temple is organized for the Dutch members. “We usually leave at night, driving for several hours,” Sister Jacobs explains. “Then we take the night boat to England, and drive for three hours. Each day we are there we arrive at the temple before 6 A.M. and stay until 6 P.M. When I get back to Holland I am tired, but happy that I was able to work in the house of the Lord.”
“Life isn’t always easy,” Sister Jacobs admits. “But our final reward will be that God will lovingly take us in his arms when we leave this world. Thinking about that gives me the courage to accept the things that happen in my life.”