When Sylvia Taekema first heard about Redeemer as a high school student, it was more of an idea than an actual institution. Despite this, she was immediately drawn in.
“There was nothing to see and nowhere to visit, but God said ‘That’s the spot for you,’” she says. “It wasn’t a big decision after that.”
Fast forward to 1986, and Taekema was nominated by a classmate to be valedictorian of Redeemer’s first graduating class. She was both flattered and surprised.
“Speaking in class or even with a group of friends was not my thing. It was also very encouraging, and I thought maybe that person saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.”
After she was chosen, the apprehension mounted even more.
“I knew how important it was to Redeemer and that there would be a lot of people wondering if [the school] was going to survive and thrive.”
Needless to say, she found the courage and delivered the inaugural valedictorian speech on Redeemer’s new Ancaster campus. Drawing from her lessons as a history student and experiences during harvest time on her childhood farm, she encouraged the class of 1986 and the school itself to learn from the successes and failures of those first four years and use them to build a solid foundation for the future.
Soon afterwards, she married her husband, Henry, and focused on raising their seven children. The accompanying trials, joys and lessons, as well as time spent working and volunteering at local Christian schools, serve as the inspiration for Taekema’s present career as a children’s author.
I always pray that something I’ve said or that’s been written in a story will provide something a child needs and be used by God for his purposes.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with kids at home, in the classroom and in Sunday school. They have fun things and issues going on that I thought could be turned into stories.”
Since 2013, Taekema has written on a variety of topics that affect children and spoken about them in classrooms. Being equipped at Redeemer to live for Christ wherever she’s called keeps her grounded and motivated.
“It’s not about pursuing greatness. It’s more out of an attitude of thankfulness that I’m able to spend time writing and talking to kids about writing. This is where I’ve been led, and I always pray that something I’ve said or that’s been written in a story will provide something a child needs and be used by God for his purposes.”
You can learn more about Sylvia Taekema’s books and speaking engagements at sylviataekema.wordpress.com