Very few issues of Beacon Lights since I have been editor, if any, have reached you without something from J.P. de Klerk. As indicated in the November issue, he passed away September 20, 2006 at the age of 81. Who was he? His wife, Tini, sent me the speeches given by his two sons at the funeral. The speeches reveal a very interesting man, and a glimpse into the diverse work of God as he gathers his church from every nation of the earth. Rik is the son from Tini’s first marriage. Her first husband died when Rik was only 16 days old. I met Theo at a young people’s convention some years ago. Since then he married his wife Lucy in New Zealand, and God has given him six children.
Theo’s speech at Dad’s funeral
Typewriters and Christmas cards!
I cannot image him without his typewriter close at hand (not these modern computer things that flicker before your eyes) but a good sturdy workhorse to pump out his correspondence and Christmas cards.
Woe betide if the workhorse broke down or the ribbon ran out—where’s the phone—Theoooooooooooo!
I know of my Dad wearing out at least 6 typewriters beyond repair within my lifetime of a mere 38 years! But it leaves me wondering how many others bit the dust in the other 43 years!
Although I’ve started with the anecdotal, there has been a much more serious side to my father’s life. To a large extent he quietly went about this without fuss or fanfare.
Who was Jacobus Pieter de Klerk? Keith to some, Koos to the Dutch. He was my father, an author, an artist, a patriot—the man who showed me what a Christian worldview looks like and that there is a cost to defending it. It was not a cost he counted beforehand. He simply believed this Christian worldview in faith, defended it stoically and trusted in God to equip and provide for him along the journey. Flying by the seat of your pants or living by faith? I believe that it was the latter.
My father believed in a sovereign, almighty God who reigns over heaven and earth—there was no doubt about this. And Koos confessed his Lord and Savior till the end. Although my father was afflicted with various and serious physical infirmities during his life, God also granted him an enduring patience and contentment to bear his lot. God used those infirmities to heighten my father’s awareness of the spiritual side of life—that’s where the typewriter surfaces again. He didn’t play sports; he didn’t go camping; but those fingers flew across the keyboard—every day. He could see the spiritual battle between good and evil in this earthly life vividly and he was driven from deep within his soul to expose it despite the cost. He had things to say and the typewriter let him do it.
My father’s life was a testament to God’s preservation of his own. He escaped the German groene polizi in 1945 by being let out the back door, survived meningitis in 1947, survived septicaemia in 1976. All of these incidents were miracles in his life and he knew it. They simply reinforced the conviction that God still had a use for his typewriter.
He was born in Den Haag to Andries and Grietje de Klerk in 1925—the son of a policeman from Zeeland and a mother from Groningen. He experienced the Second World War in occupied Netherlands as an older teenager, which is when he acquired the first typewriter. Well there’s the first hint of trouble—he let the typewriter help people in need but the Germans weren’t all that fussed about this young would-be journalist and very rudely opened mail not addressed to them. That very nearly was the end of the story. Humanly speaking that was as close as it gets.
Then it was the reds under the bed that got more than a paper cut from the valued added letters and books that rolled off his typewriter in the 1960s and 70s. That cost Dad dearly in all sorts of other ways!
Socialists and Communists were fair game in my father’s typewriter’s sights and were always given a liberal dosing of opposing worldview from a conservative Christian perspective. The readers of the letters to the editor to the Manawatu Standard were left in no doubt of this in the 1980s and 90s.
So why mention all of this? There are some much better yarns to spin around a lot of other of his life’s experiences. Simply this; I thank God for giving me the father he did. Although, God used my father to give me a powerful example of values, which will anchor my soul for as long as I live, more importantly God gave this man a straightforward faith to know his spiritual destiny.
Was all the pain and illness in his life an accident or just bad luck? No. These were the stepping-stones that God used to lead one of his children home. Why am I so sure that my father is in glory? Koos believed in the saving power of Jesus Christ risen from the dead as the only atonement for sin. I close with the question: Do you know Jesus? Don’t delay, answer the question and act so you can say along with the Apostle Paul in II Tim, 1:12: “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”
Rik’s speech at Dad’s funeral
Thank you Theo!
It’s good to see so many of you here. I am Rik, the other son.
My Dad wrote books, most of those were in Dutch, so you may not have read them.
After writing three colorful novels, he wrote a book with more personal thoughts, entitled Just Like You.
A copy made its way to New Zealand, and after receiving letters back from New Zealand, he realized there were many people there who shared his views.
The political and social climate in Holland had been upsetting him for some time, and New Zealand became the right place to move his family to.
So it was because of Dad’s fourth book really, that we actually made it to this part of the world in 1973/74.
Dad loved travel anyway, he’d done quite a lot of it, he loved languages; as well as Dutch and English, he also spoke French and German.
Sometimes, when he spoke with someone who had an accent, he would subconsciously mimic that accent, which was quite funny to hear when he was on the phone.
This wasn’t making fun of the other person; I think it was a kind of empathy.
There’s a picture on the back of your program, thoughtfully put together by Theo, which shows my dad in 1948, barely 23 years old, walking down the streets of, of all places, Stockholm.
Of course he was from The Hague himself, which is in Holland, and here he was in Sweden.
It shows how, as a young man, he traveled a lot while running his own advertising agency, employing other people, Dad made contacts all over the world.
In the famous family photo albums (which he kept up all his life—and we now know a lot of his history from), you can see he went to Norway just after that, and to England, where he almost didn’t make it back after a bout of meningitis.
Dad was a fiercely loyal person, who stayed in touch with a great many international friends for all of their lives, and all of his life, right up to the end.
A man of very strong convictions, Dad knew what he was about; he had faith, and he had strong political views.
Of course he worked in advertising, which almost sounds a bit frivolous really, for the man we got to know later. For when I got to know him, I was 8 years old, and just like Theo, who was born a few years later, we were only there for the second half of his life. The same for Mum, she met him when he was already 38, and he did make it to 81 this year!
So there was a whole life before us; moving on from advertising to become a fashion journalist, can you imagine that, he actually wrote about dresses and hats… He did love his hats….
Anyway, eventually he specialized in his favorite subjects, religion and politics.
Just before we left Holland, Dad was doing a lot of public speaking, politically tinged speeches for young people in churches, about what was happening in the world.
He became more and more convinced that New Zealand would be a safer place to live.
Dad had many artistic qualities, the reason he had an advertising agency is that he had an imaginative mind, he could write and draw really well. In your program, underlying the text is a drawing Dad did of the Palace his Father kept a watch over during World War 2.
One of most powerful stories Dad told me was how his father kept 300 people at a time hidden from the Germans in the basement of the Palace (Noordeinde) in The Hague.
Theo’s grandfather was a policeman who worked double shifts for most of the war, guarding the Dutch Royal Palace (supposedly sealed by the Germans), making sure no one found out this was in fact a major hiding place for countless lost airmen, persecuted Jews, and Dutch resistance fighters.
There were meetings with British submarines on the beach in the middle of the night, and all sorts of stuff! To me as a kid, these seemed like wild and exciting times, but all too real for the ones involved. The incredible stress of this situation on Dad’s father probably helped to shorten his life considerably—he never made it to his fifties.
Dad himself was also involved in resistance work. He hid secret information in his artwork he sent to England via neutral countries like Portugal. At the end of World War II, he was awarded medals by three different countries for saving peoples’ lives that way, something not many of you would probably know, since he never wanted to talk about it, feeling others were more worthy of recognition.
My dad opened up a whole new world to me, a whole world of many things not yet imagined.
In another life he could have been a scriptwriter, because when he did tell a story, he made you feel as if you were there.
Of course with a policeman for a father and an uncle who was an explosives expert, he had learned at the feet of the masters.
Most importantly, Dad took responsibility for me when I was just a little kid, he made sure I went to a Christian school, and he made sure I went to the right Christian school; it was through him that I got to know the Lord.
He deepened religious understanding in my Mum and me; we believed in God, but we didn’t quite know him the way we know him now….
As I became a teenager, there were the usual puberty problems with my parents, but by questioning me and asking me to justify myself, I learned who I was. He helped me grow up!
Dad loved his family. He was very proud of Theo, loved Lucy like a daughter and took great delight in all their beautiful kids.
What I appreciated him for most was that he, very much, loved my Mum.