In the last few days, there has been a crime committed in Ontario that has been given much publicity. Interestingly, it has taken place in Ancaster, the town we lived in before moving to the United States, and within the larger Dutch community that we were part of.
A young husband and father, Tim Bosma, took two men out to test drive the truck he was selling last Monday evening, and has not been seen since. A crime simple in its outline, but not in its repercussions. A weeping wife pleading for the life of her best friend, and the father of her two-year-old daughter. A mom telling of her broken heart on Mother’s Day, asking for the return of her child…
Along with so many others, I pray for Tim’s safe return. But following this story has reminded me of the great strengths of the Dutch community, as I see them in action. I’m sure many Canadians must be wondering about the source of the underlying dignity and peace of Tim’s family, even as they plead for his life.
This is not the first time I have been amazed at the sublime faith the Dutch seem to have in coping with adversity and heartache. It is not that they don’t ‘feel’ their troubles. Of course they do. But I have never seen a Dutch person even tempted to blame God for them.
First, the ‘Why?’
The (believing) Dutch are Calvinist to their bone marrow. Virtually all of them can trace their spiritual pedigree back to the Reformation – no missing generations. They have cut their teeth on the doctrines of the Reformers and there is nothing more important to them. They have an implicit acknowledgment of, and submission to, God’s providence.
Their early history as a believing community is soaked in the blood of Catholic persecution. Their blood was shed again in the Second World War. These are not events of the distant past. Their faith is the bequest of martyrs, never to be forgotten or betrayed. They understand the adversity of the world, the rampaging of Satan against the church.
Because they understand Satanic evil well, they take for granted they have been born into adverse battle conditions. Among the first words a child ‘hears’, are the following from the Form for the Baptism of Infants.”
“We pray that he, following Him day by day. may joyfully bear his cross and cleave to Him in true faith, firm hope, and ardent love. Grant that he, comforted in Thee, may leave this life, which is no more than a constant death, and at the last day may appear without terror before the judgment seat of Christ Thy Son.”
That is the “Why?”. Now, the “How?”
The Dutch believe God has made his covenant with them as a people primarily, not as individuals. I disagree with this aspect of their theology and it is one reason we left their churches. But, my, it gives them strength when a member is in need. The Bosmas have hundreds, even thousands, of people that are there for them in prayer, and in every practical way. The police have been astonished as, within hours of Tim’s disappearance, missing person posters appeared all over southern Ontario. The family will not have to worry about food in the short term or, if they indeed lose their husband and father, paying their mortgage in the longterm. They will be cared for on every level.
The diverse people of God all reflect his beauty in different ways, don’t they?
And an update on the crime itself. The Ontario police forces are doing a masterly job of solving this case. They have found Tim’s cell phone, his truck, and have arrested one suspect – a wealthy young man, apparently….But no Tim.
Do pray along with Ontario’s Christian community that he will be returned to his home. And that God will continue to be glorified in a province that knows so very little of Him.