There are times when news stories truly captivate my attention and sometimes my heart in a way I can’t let go. I can’t stop reading about the people, their lives, their journeys. Lately, there are so many things happening in our world and even just in our country that have pierced many of our hearts. School massacres, marathon bombings, rescued kidnap victims, disaster tornadoes.
But then there’s this story of one man in Canada that has fueled many of my prayers, tears, and cries out to God on behalf of the family. And I don’t even know them.
When a friend in Canada posted about the kidnapping of Tim Bosma, asking for prayers for the family, for some reason that story got under my skin. She went to high school with one of Tim’s sisters. Another friend’s family went to church with Tim’s family. He disappeared from the same community where I celebrated my Canadian citizenship coming through in 2010, going up there in time for Canadian Thanksgiving.
Despite not knowing them personally, I found myself praying everyday for him, his family, the wife and daughter who were anxiously at home awaiting news about his well-being. I checked the web each day for news. Along with everyone else, I so wanted to hear that he’d been found alive.
What was so disturbing about this story was he was a man doing an everyday thing that many of us do: trying to sell a truck by listing it online. Innocent enough, isn’t it?
However, when two people responded to the ad and came over to test drive it, Tim went with them, telling his wife and daughter he’d be right back. Naturally, you don’t hand your keys over to total strangers and expect them to return. It seemed like a normal thing to do — To go with them, didn’t it?
Tim didn’t come back home that night. Or the next night. Or the next. The kidnapping was reported almost immediately. The police department got right on the task of looking for him. No 24-hour waiting period required in a disappearance of this nature.
I can’t imagine what the wait must have felt like for the Bosma family and friends. He disappeared on May 6th. Sadly, his body was found, burned beyond recognition, on May 14th. It was the morning of my second wedding anniversary. I cried as I texted my husband the news, aching on behalf of this new widow.
(Sharlene Bosma, From CBC’s broadcast of Tim’s funeral)
Tim and his wife Sharlene got married a little over a year before my husband Chris and I got married. Their love story was cut entirely too short. The pain she must be enduring is unimaginable. It all seems so senseless: to take a man from his family over a truck. Those who did this to him didn’t think through what this would do to her, or the daughter who would grow up without her father. They acted selfishly. Or as they said at Tim’s funeral, “evil drove up our driveway.”
I have watched this family of strangers from afar and been very impressed with their courage, strength, and how they’re calling evil what it is and trying their best to not place blame on God for allowing it to happen even though they’ve had their weak moments as anyone would. Even I have uttered some prayers to ask God, “Why? Why was this allowed to happen?” They’ve kept their faith intact.
I watched the CBC’s live broadcast of his funeral. Everyone who spoke did so in a way that truly honored a man who was clearly a jokester, a prankster, loved to laugh, and obviously loved his family. They were real, honest, and yet not bitter. They held tightly to their faith in God and Jesus and knew that Tim was in Heaven.
Tim’s sister Michelle was very inspirational in her tribute. “Our family will not be ripped apart. Our family will not lose hope. I urge you today to get your act together. Spend more time with your family. Spend more time with your kids. Spend more time with your spouse.”
The last speaker at the funeral was his widow. I was amazed by Sharlene’s strength. I watched her laugh with people’s jokes and special tributes or cry when they shared something meaningful. And here she was, able to speak to the over 1000 people in attendance, words I will never forget. “What happened to him was not God’s doing. I know that if it wasn’t Tim, it could have been another man and another man’s family. What if they didn’t have the support that we have? Evil came to pass.”
But she didn’t stop there. Evil doesn’t get the last word. This tragedy had put her face-to-face with evil, but it also showed her the kindness, generosity, and goodness that exist in others. And it comes out stronger than evil. She said, “We have seen there is far more good on this earth. I believe, especially in this case, good will overcome evil.”
That is the grace of God at work. She couldn’t have that strength otherwise. I remember being struck by the words author Sheila Walsh once wrote in a book as she watched a friend lose someone close to her. She pondered how she didn’t know how they were dealing with the pain, how they were making it through. But God whispered to Sheila’s spirit that she didn’t understand it because it wasn’t her trial. She didn’t have the grace to go through that person’s trial, but that God had given His grace to the one going through it. Those words have stuck with me for the decade since I read them. Watching Tim’s family talk so eloquently, in faith, is seeing this concept in action. God truly shows up to comfort the brokenhearted. (Ps. 34:18)
I think being a fellow “newlywed,” this has hit me especially close to the heart. Sharlene humorously talked of their disastrous first date, their long wait to find each other, which for them was about 30 years. Chris and I may have waited an extra 10 years to find each other, but waiting is waiting. Searching is searching. And when you finally find it, as I share my angsty search in my book for singles, Finally the Bride: Finding Hope While Waiting, you don’t want to have to let go of it so soon. Or ever. I feel for this woman. As a screenwriter/novelist, I often cry with my characters’ predicaments. But in this case, the person I am crying for is real with a real journey ahead that no longer involves sharing life with the love of her life.
I found it gut wrenching, through the generosity of the location, they returned to the site of their wedding reception for Tim’s funeral. I tear up just thinking about what that must have felt like for anyone in that room who attended their celebratory wedding just over three years ago.
Tim had no idea that May 6th was his last day on earth. Those who loved him didn’t either. His story is such a harsh reminder to not waste time.
Just like we expressed in my film The Ultimate Gift, through James Garner and Abigail Breslin’s characters, life is precious. When I wrote that screenplay, of all the 12 gifts, The Gift of a Day was my favorite one. It highlights how precious life is. We shouldn’t waste any time because we never know how much time we have left.
(Cheryl with Abigail Breslin, who played a cancer patient, Emily, in “The Ultimate Gift”)
Sharlene jokingly talked about what drove her crazy about Tim: he’d leave his socks on the end tables in the living room and dirty dishes just above the clearly available dishwasher. But now, she says she’d give anything to have back those dirty socks and dirty dishes.
To the Bosma family, know that there are many people around the world praying for you, inspired by you, praying for justice, and for good to overcome evil. You have touched the hearts of many.
If anyone is so inclined to help the family, they have website set up to donate toward a trust fund to help Tim’s wife and daughter. They also have a photo slide show to see a celebration of Tim’s life.
“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom. 12:21 kjv)