Two months shy of his 60th birthday, a retired teacher can cross an item off his bucket list with the publication of his first book, The Four Horsemen.
Mark Reimer comes from a large, blended, religious family. His father, a minister and a central figure at what was then called Steinbach Bible Institute, inspired a profound love for literature in his children and his students.
Reimer knew he wanted to write a book since he was nine years old. After 37 years of teaching, a transition into retirement, and some persuasion from a friend to write a book about faith, he finally put pen to paper.
“I thought, so many people do that,” said Reimer. “What I could do is put the idea of faith into the context of a community.”
Reimer said he wanted the main character to encounter many issues that the Christian faith grapples with, such as toxic relationships, the LGBTQ movement, marriages, and more.
The story is fictional, but being able to write blatantly of what he knows, Reimer said he chose to structure the story around his experiences of family and community.
“I blended between five and 25 people that I know into creation of these characters,” said Reimer. “In so many ways, I’m telling a story of the people I’ve encountered over my almost 60 years of life.”
As a teacher, Reimer said, he had no shortage of at-risk kids that came through his classroom and in his book, he wants to honour and respect them in their journey in life.
It took Reimer a year and a half to write the book in the Ecuadorian village of Puerto Lopez, but when the pandemic hit, he had to drop his pen, grab his passport, and take a last-minute flight back home.
As he flew home, Reimer said he realized that his white privilege allowed him to get there, and knew he had to do something to help his friends.
He went out of retirement to work at Stonybrook Middle School and sent the money he earned back to Ecuador.
“They work today to earn money for their food tomorrow,” said Reimer.
When Grace Mennonite Church heard of the situation down south, they asked what they could do to help, and they teamed up with Reimer’s Manitoba to Ecuador project to raise money.
Over the first 10 weeks of the pandemic, Reimer received $16,000 in donations from Steinbach, Alberta, and Ontario.
“We created food hampers for 1,500 families, on three occasions during the darkest days of the pandemic in Ecuador,” said Reimer.
“Things are changing slowly, tourists are coming back, so I’m happy to return, and to be retried.”
Reimer said all the money he makes from book sales is going back into the support project, to sponsor the education of two young men.
“While the writing was on my bucket list, the dream of selling copies of the book is because of where it’s going,” said Reimer.
“My aim is to find myself in a space where I can fill my soul with what I need so that I can reach out to give to others. I do believe that walking alongside other people is what life is about, that’s what I tried to write into this story.”
The Four Horsemen is self-published through Friesens Corp. Digital and hard copies are available online or by contacting Reimer himself at email@example.com.
The official launch of the book will take place Sept. 7 at Mennonite Heritage Village, where a night of author readings is planned with Reimer, MaryLou Driedger, and Andrew Unger.
This story was first published in the Aug. 5, 2021 edition of The Carillon. Become a subscriber today.
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