Elsie Jespersen




Life and Work

Elsie was born on December 3, 1921 on a farm near Burstall, Saskatchewan. She was the sixth daughter of Henry and Helena Deibert. She attended North American Baptist College in Edmonton where she met Harvey Jesperson in 1942. The couple were married on March 23, 1944. Harvey and Elsie moved to Luseland, Saskatchewan where he was pastor of a small church. Later, the Jespersons moved to Mirror where, as pastor of the Alliance Church, Harvey felt a calling to care for needy children. The couple moved to Spruce Grove with their daughter, Priscilla and lived on the upstairs floor of Harvey's childhood home. They soon were asked to care for a four month old boy named Bobby. Not long after, the couple and two children moved to Wetaskiwin in 1947 ordinally to work for the newly established European Christian Orphanage. When the Canadian Government refused to allow permits to bring orphaned children into Canada, the Jespersons turned forty-two acres of land, unfinished army barracks, a barn and a silo into "Bethany Homes for Children." Elsie and Harvey had three more children and during their forty three years of devotion and hard work, the Jespersons and Bethany Homes, in spite of receiving no government financial backing, has ministered to approximately 750 children.

According to Elsie: "The hardest thing was saying goodbye to the children. We walked around with lumps in our throats for days after, Finally I said to myself, 'Look, these are not your children to keep. You knew that from the beginning.' I had to make up my mind then, that when they came, we would love them, and when they left we knew God would provide for their care elsewhere."

Elsie passed away on February 13, 1999.

"Thank you for all of the inspiration, influence and guidance your life has given me. You taught me how to love my Lord deeply through your devoted Christian life ... Your devotion to your husband taught me that even though other relationships may end in disaster and heartache, there is still that hope of having an everlasting love."
-Shannon Thomas, one of Elsie's "children"


  • Research and Writing: Evelyn Heslup

  • Contributors: Mrs. Elsie Jespersen and Shannon Thomas

  • Curator: Harriet Liddle