Sorting by

Skip to main content

Prayers for a young widow

By May 17, 2013 2 Comments


Tim Bosma is seen in a family photo.

By all accounts, he was a really good guy–good father, good husband, good church-goer.  In some ways, on paper at least, he seems quintessentially CRC. While he didn’t go to Redeemer, to Dordt, to Calvin, or to Trinity, he and his wife, Sharlene, and their darling two-year-old were by all accounts faithful members of an Ancaster, Ontario, CRC.


The Bosma’s preacher was not in attendance at the retreat I led last week, although he certainly could have been. Many of his colleagues from around the adjacent classes were. But that pastor had a horrible problem on his hands and in his heart, the abduction of a member of his church and a woman, that man’s wife, who suddenly found herself without her husband and her little girl’s dad, a woman who was herself, I’m sure, scared to death.

I first heard the story at that retreat, when one of the leaders announced how this young man named Tim Bosma had left home with a couple of men who were interested in buying his truck, a vehicle they’d seen advertised somewhere on the internet.  Someone said, later on, that he’d heard Bosma himself had worried a bit, since the potential buyer had asked, strangely, if he could meet Tim somewhere–at a restaurant or something–and take the truck for a test drive from there.  Bosma had insisted they come to the house–and that he go with them on this test drive.

It was the last ride he’d ever take. Police discovered his burned body on the lot of the man who has subsequently been charged with first-degree murder.

Me? When I first heard the story, I was concerned about how the next presentation was going to go, the presentation I made directly after the Tim Bosma story was announced to the folks at the retreat center.  The story sounded too TV-scripted–a young father missing and presumably abducted just for a truck?  Can’t be.

The story was true and it’s awful.  Police are searching for an accomplice or two, it seems, because someone else drove the car they rode up in. Who knows how all of this will shake out?

Within the world of the CRC, the tragic story unfolds deep and committed response that is, veritably, predictable. I know the kind of care his church gave to Bosma’s wife because I’ve seen it ten dozen times or more: hundreds of folks doing anything and everything they can–one newspaper described Bosma’s Dutch Reformed world as “very tight.”  A neighbor described what the Toronto Star called “their faith-based neighbourhood” as very close. 

No kidding. 

“It’s kind of like one person’s suffering,” that neighbor said, “is everybody’s suffering.”


A million prayers must have stormed the gates of heaven when there was still some hope; I’m sure that kind of number hasn’t diminished in the least, even after the arrest. Now all those prayers all for Sharlene.  And that fatherless two-year-old.

This horrible crime strikes even me, a thousand miles and a national border away because somehow it feels close to home.  I feel as if I knew Tim Bosma, could have had him in class, could have sat in front of him or behind for years of Sunday worship.  He was a member of my tribe, and even though I never met him he couldn’t have been more than one degree of separation away.  I wouldn’t doubt there were those at the retreat who knew him.  The two of could have played bingo and struck home, I’m sure, in a heartbeat.  

And now he’s gone, dead, and his grieving wife walks through a house that probably feels something no more substantial than cardboard.  Still, I know she’s not alone, flights of angels, airy and earthy, right there beside her and their little girl.  

It’s the kind of story that makes you wonder about humankind, even if you’re steeped in a theology whose two major pillars are the sovereignty of God and the depravity of man. Theology is a classroom exercise until it meets the road, as it does here, in this story. But even if that’s all you’ve heard from the pulpit for your whole life, there’s no way for mind or heart or soul to imagine the horrifying malevolence of whoever murdered Tim Bosma for nothing more than a 2007 black Dodge Ram. Turns out the alleged perpetrator had more than enough money to buy it.  

Makes the blood run cold, someone wrote on-line.

Strikes me as exactly right, cliche or not.  There’s no way to make sense of what happened to the Bosmas of Ancaster.  Simply, makes the blood run cold and puts us on our knees.

James C. Schaap

James Calvin Schaap is a retired English prof who has been something of a writer for most of the last 40 years. His latest work, a novel, Looking for Dawn, set in reservation country, is the story of two young women joined by their parents' mutual brokenness and, finally, a machine-shed sacrament of reconciliation. He writes and narrates a weekly essay on regional history for KWIT, public radio, Sioux City, Iowa. He and his wife Barbara live on the northern edge of Alton, Iowa, the Sgt. Floyd River a hundred yards or so from their back door. They have a cat--rather, he has them.


  • Harriette says:

    Such a sad story that my family has been following since it began. Many prayers…

  • Angela says:

    Our church is joining at leatst 150 other churches and groups throughout North America to pray and sing "In Christ Alone" in solidarity with Ancaster CRC and the Bosma family. You used the word "tribe" and I finally found the word I'd been looking for to describe the mysterious feeling to have a member of the CRC murdered 3,000 km away and be more upset than about the murders in my city.

Leave a Reply