OPINION: Confronted by the grotesque face of evil but standing as a faith-filled community
Today, Hamilton Police charged a second man in the death of Tim Bosma. Mark Smich, 25, of Oakville has been arrested and will be charged with first-degree murder. The announcement was made just hours after his Ancaster family celebrated his life at a public memorial. The following column are my personal thoughts on the death of Tim Bosma.
I am the child of Dutch immigrants to Canada. And in our community, especially in our church circles, we have a little game we like to play; it’s called Dutch Bingo.
As you travel around the province, whatever Christian Reformed Church (a denomination largely populated in southern Ontario by Dutch immigrants in the 1940s and 1950s) you land in, you begin any conversation with a stranger with where you grew up and what church you belonged to.
Inevitably, the next words out of the person’s mouth will be; ‘So you must know my cousin, Mary, she’s married to John VanWhat’s-his-name.’ Then follows; ‘Oh yes, he taught me Sunday School and his brother is married to my cousin.’ It is never said, but the connection is made and each person in their head says “bingo.”
This is not just an occasional game; we play it all the time. And it’s very rare not to find the bingo. We Dutch people loved Canada after the Second World War and came to southern Ontario in droves to farm. Since this immigration happened just 60 or so years ago, we are all still relatively connected.
The reality of that connection – that game of Dutch Bingo – was tragic this week as my church community gravely played again, this time making the connections using the missing person poster of Tim Bosma.
I cannot believe how many people I know personally or from a distance who are related to the Ancaster man who was murdered after taking two people for a test drive in his shiny black pickup. And no matter how loose the connection, it has affected people deeply.
Perhaps it is because of the randomness of the crime. How many people have put their vehicle up for sale not even thinking the violence which ended Bosma’s life was a possibility?
Perhaps it is because he is so young, with such a young family, that we care so much. Our hearts cry out ‘how dare someone take away steal this man away from his wife and daughter!’
In the Christian Reformed Church, I think some are simply shocked. While every church in every community in southern Ontario can tell you stories of tragic death, I cannot recall something this sinister. Our church is well known for reminding people there is sin all around us, (sometimes a little too loudly for some people’s liking) but it has never has smacked us in the face like this.
“We are confronted by the grotesque face of evil,” said Sarnia First CRC Pastor Henry Meinen at a recent prayer service “it so easily could fill us with such despair.”
Tim Bosma’s tragic death also lays heavy with me. No for any of these reasons; as a reporter you not only get to see the good stories, you see the bad – the depths to which people can sink and you grow a little hardened to it. I think most reporters covering the story would tell you after a day or so they felt this search which was so filled with energy and hope was not going to end well.
For me, his death is so personal because of those pictures you have undoubtedly seen. Tim Bosma could be anyone of five dozen men I have sat beside in the various churches I’ve attended in my life. The signs of his Dutchness – the shock of reddish blonde hair, the blue eyes with that twinkle of mischief, the strong nose and jaw, his long lanky frame – are so evident. He feels like someone I know.
It would be easy to feel that despair Meinen talked about.
But as tragic as Bosma’s death is, as heart-wrenching as it has been for people I know, there are still things about this tragedy which lift me – which save me from despair.
A church community has surrounded this family with practical help, love and prayers and the hope of their faith. I think that’s such a positive thing for people to see in a time where everything is about me and we don’t know our own neighbours anymore where for many faith is a mysterious odd thing.
Our world needs that sense of a caring community; that hope.
I hope and pray that caring community can help sustain the Bosmas in the tough days to come.