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  • Writer's pictureLil Goertzen

Jonah: God’s Love is Bigger Than a Whale

There are many gifted and talented people in our congregations who share their abilities in a variety of ways. Every now and again, a young person emerges with a unique gift, and steps into the opportunity and challenge to explore and develop the gift more broadly. This young man has already had his work published in several different places, and just completed the art work on the kid’s book “Jonah: God’s Love Is Bigger Than a Whale”.

I would like to introduce you to Joel Harnett. He’s a young man who will be graduating from Niverville High School in Manitoba in a few short weeks. Joel together with his family attends Niverville Community Fellowship.

Here’s your opportunity to get to know Joel a little better.


An Interview with Joel Harnett

By Lil Goertzen

How did you get involved in this project?

It is really cool how God dropped this right in my lap. One day at school my art teacher brought up that a guy from his church was writing a kid’s book. He needed an illustrator and I jumped on it! Ever since that, me and Don have been working together to create this book!

What was your favourite part of making the book?

My favourite part was painting the Jesus illustration. At the end of the book, the story ties together the fact that, just like Nineveh, we too need saving and that comes through Jesus. God gave me a really cool idea for that illustration. I layered different symbols of John 3:16: the world, the cross, a heart. I think it captures God’s heart to save us pretty well, and no credit to myself! It is cool to see how God touches people through the art, I love it!

What did you learn from Jonah?

I noticed Jonah was very quick to condemn Nineveh because they ‘didn’t deserve God’s grace.’ And yet, isn’t that the whole point? God’s grace is for people like the city of Nineveh who don’t make the cut of deserving it by human standards. It reminded me of how Jesus extended an open hand to anyone, regardless of what they had done, to come to Him. The Pharisees however couldn’t get past the fact that these people didn’t make the cut. I learned Jesus' grace is for me and is offered to me no matter what. Jesus always extends His love to you too, no matter what you have done to not make the cut.

What other projects have you worked on?

My art has been featured five times in Focus on the Family’s kids’ magazine: Clubhouse. I was featured in their Members Mag, sometimes on the cover or inside the pages. The Manitoba Herald featured a cartoon I drew up for them. I enjoy illustrating a kids feature for our church occasionally. Since I am graduating high school this year, I also designed a Grad hat for our class. I have many projects on the go right now too, as well as lots in mind for the future!

What are your plans after high school? Where do you plan to attend? What course track will you be taking?

I will be heading out to BC to attend Columbia Bible College’s Worship Arts program in the fall. Columbia is located in Abbotsford, BC! I am excited to grow my gifts of art and music through this program as well as grow in my relationship with God! The program is a two- or four-year program (diploma or degree, respectively) and I will be completing the diploma to start!

Where can I get a hold of your book?

You can find my book on! The full title is Jonah: God’s Love is Bigger Than a Whale written by Don Dewey and illustrated by Joel Harnett.

Follow Joel on instagram @jh_artstudio


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