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Local Author Finds Acceptance
Just like the 800 children she writes about, Emily knows what it means to experience a Father’s love. Her novel is about the love of a father who fostered them.

I know what it’s like to hunger for love—a fact which helped me to write my debut novel, Save My Children (Castle Quay Books, 2008).

Growing up in northern Ontario, I struggled with Anorexia Nervosa in an attempt to find value as a person.

From the age of nine to 13 my purpose was measured by the weigh scale. I refused to hug my parents, and was hospitalized twice. It wasn’t until I was purple from hypothermia and dying at five-foot-nine and 60 pounds that I realized God was sparing me for a specific purpose.

Not only did my Heavenly Father die for me on a cross. He spared me from death on that hospital bed. How could I do anything but choose to serve Him when He obviously loved me so much?

In May 2008, I shared my testimony on 100 Huntley Street and The Drew Marshall Show, telling viewers how I was saved for a second time. At 28 years old, I was also pleased to share of my restored relationship with my parents, and how my husband and I now spend our time in Blyth, Ontario, caring for my mother who has brain cancer.

Because of my own challenging childhood, I found it easy to empathise with the subjects of Save My Children—the novel I was hired to write about Bethany Homes for Children. It was released at the organization’s 60th anniversary on September 21, 2008.

Save My Children is about finding acceptance in a world riddled with rejection. Tracing the lives of battered and mistreated kids, it expresses the importance a father’s unending love.

A father to over 800 children, Harvey Jespersen of Wetaskiwin, Alberta, is no doubt Canada’s most beloved paternal figure.

Yet “I do not want the spotlight to be on me,” says the 90-year-old founder of Bethany Homes. “It’s all about the children.”

It’s always been about the children—ever since that day back in 1948 when Jespersen decided to transform 42 acres of Wetaskiwin-land and a couple of army barracks into a home.

Jespersen’s hands were never idle; in the early hours of the morning he’d haul water and bake bread. Then he’d milk the cows, collect eggs and wake the children. After breakfast, while Harvey’s late wife Elsie cleaned and sewed new outfits, Harvey would drive the kids to school using an old school-bus. They fostered up to 55 children at any given time, even with only $20 left in the bank.

Since Jespersen’s resignation in 1991 as superintendent, Bethany has continued to foster hundreds of children, using two bi-level homes instead of the army barracks.

While sad to see the old days of Bethany pass away, Jespersen has great hopes that “it might continue to provide care and help for needy young people.”

In short, he says, “May all glory be given to the Lord.”

Save My Children: The Story of a Father’s Love. Emily Wierenga. BayRidge Books, 2008.

Emily Wierenga is the author of ‘Save My Children.’ All proceeds go towards Bethany Homes for Children.

Originally published in Christian Week Ontario. November 2008.

Used with permission. Copyright © 2009 Christianity.ca.

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