Witnessing by license plate?

I hardly knew Jack Bloem. I think we had met in person only once. I knew that he had married my cousin Dora, whom I had not seen since 1946. I know his son Russ, who serves as chairman of our Board of Directors. 

Jack died last week. He was 92. 

It would be easy, and even reasonable, to explain why I had so much respect for Jack Bloem after reading his credentials and accomplishments. But, those were not the deciding factors. The credit goes to a license plate. It’s a vanity plate that was on his car, and it simply says QNA 1. 

Those of you who are familiar with Reformed theology will quickly pick up on this. The plate message was referring to the first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism. My dear friend, the late Rev. Cy Young, a Black preacher from Grand Rapids, thought Q & A 1 was one of the most beautiful documents he had ever read. After spotting it in a hymnbook of our church he memorized it, and often used it in his oral presentations. 

Here are the words:


What is your only comfort

in life and death?


That I am not my own,

but belong with body and soul,

both in life and in death,

to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

He has fully paid for all my sins

with his precious blood,

and has set me free

from all the power of the devil.

He also preserves me in such a way

that without the will of my heavenly Father

not a hair can fall from my head;

Indeed, all things must work together

for my salvation.

Therefore, by his Holy Spirit

he also assures me

of eternal life

and makes me heartily willing and ready

from now on to live for him. 

I don’t write about religion very often in this column. I usually stick with prisoner topics. But, our family has been blindsided by death this year, only some of it anticipated. Because of Jack and Dora’s love for HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS and their son Russ’s major involvement in our work, I felt compelled to attend the memorial service. But the thing that really touched me was the story of his automobile tag. 

Yes, that license plate tells me a lot about Jack Bloem. 

For the sake of comparison, I have a vanity plate on my car as well…and mine really is a vanity plate: DOUGER.

I wish I had thought of QNA 1. But, on second thought, it was already taken. It's where I am, though.


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