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Photo: Carol Sybenga
Photo by Carol Sybenga

Hugs, tears, and even some laughter showed the relief of many as the verdicts were announced last week in the trial of two men accused of murdering Tim Bosma.

The jury found Dellen Millard of Toronto, Ontario, and Mark Smich of Oakville, Ontario, both guilty of first-degree murder. They were given sentences of life imprisonment without parole for at least 25 years.

Bosma, a member of the Ancaster (ON) Christian Reformed Church, disappeared after accompanying two men on a test drive of a truck he was trying to sell. His death was confirmed by police just over a week later.

As jury deliberations continued through the past week, a prayer vigil was held on the lawn across from the courthouse in Hamilton, Ontario. Friends, family, and the Hamilton community were invited to pray, leave a note of support for the family, or simply share their thoughts.

The vigil, organized by staff from the Canadian Ministries office of the Christian Reformed Church, became a gathering point for people interested in the trial and in supporting the Bosma family. Passersby, camera crew members, church family, and strangers came in suits, sporting dreadlocks and tattoos, and wearing orange construction vests and school uniforms to write notes to the family.

Throughout the four-and-a-half month trial, Tim’s wife, Sharlene, parents, and sisters have been supported by close friends and the church community, who came to be known as the “Bosma army.” These were people who sat with them in the courtroom, brought lunch every day, and surrounded them with prayer.

On Friday afternoon, a crowd gathered and the bank of cameras, lights, and microphones grew, after the announcement went out that the jury had come to a verdict. Four months of tension was released in cheers and tears. Cars honked as they passed the courthouse, fists were raised in solidarity with Tim Bosma’s family.

After the sentences of were handed down, the “Bosma army” walked across the street, and Sharlene Bosma spoke to the media.

“I'm always going to mourn what we're never going to have, what we’re never going to share together,” she said.

"Although we endure a life sentence in a life without Tim, we have learned collectively to laugh again, to smile, and embrace what we still have. We have memories. Beautiful memories."

Read a reflection by Darren Roorda, Canadian Ministries Director.