Salvation Army helps reassemble a splintered family

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Missing Persons Services locates and reunites two brothers.

by Kathy Lovin –

More than 40 years ago, Tim Gonderman’s parents made a difficult choice. Alcoholic and broke, they allowed three of their six children to be adopted by other families. Tim and two of his sisters left their birth family and went their separate ways with new adoptive parents.

In Tim’s new family, there were five girls. They had a brother who died at birth. Tim believes his adoption was an attempt to replace him. But try as he might, Tim just couldn’t fill his shoes.

Physical, mental and sexual abuse filled Tim’s early years. Once he became a teen, he rebelled and suffered the consequencesprison. Upon his release in 1981, Tim moved to Yakima, Wash., to start a new life and has lived there ever since.

Now more than 25 years later, Tim reflects on a life that remained challenging. He suffered from drug and alcohol abuse, stints of homelessness, multiple marriages, bouts of depression and crushing loneliness. He said, “I’ve graduated from the school of hard knocks with a black and blue diploma.”

Prayers answered
However, Tim also experienced God’s abundant love and mercy. Though he struggled, he felt the call of God on his life and a passion to share the gospel with others. He prayed that someday he would find out more about his birth family and reconnect with them. Tim also prayed for someone to talk to, someone to keep him from dying of loneliness.

Soon after, God brought 97-year-old Rose Osmondson into his life while he was washing dishes at The Salvation Army in Yakima. Rose also felt lonely and needed a full-time caregiver. Suddenly, Tim had a new job caring for Rose and the support and companionship he’d longed for all his life.

Active in The Salvation Army, encouraged Tim to contact the Army’s Missing Persons Services at Western territorial headquarters for help finding his family.

He filed the necessary paperwork to open a search and caseworker Lois Sellars spent nearly a year researching his siblings. When she finally called Tim with the good news, he was thrilled and a little overwhelmed.

Now, Tim is in phone contact with two of his sisters and he recently met his older brother Curtis Huus in person after more than 40 years apart. Together, they plan to travel to the East Coast to visit their sisters.

The Salvation Army Missing Persons ministry exists to help people find bits of their past and guide them through the process of putting it back together. They believe that it is often healing to search for lost loved ones regardless of the outcome.

It certainly has been for Tim. He said, “I would have paid a million dollars to find my family. This is priceless.”

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