Man whose wife, daughter died in 2013 home invasion, empathizes with Blackburns

Todd Erb
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"Nothing is wasted."

We have heard that phrase several times since the Amanda Blackburn tragedy.

"In Christ, nothing is wasted. Nothing. He doesn't waste a tragedy. He doesn't waste a sorrow. He doesn't waste anything," said pastor Perry Noble at Blackburn's "Celebration of Life" service.

Todd Erb does not want to waste his tragedy or the heartache he felt in December 2013 when his wife and daughter were murdered in a Westfield home invasion. Erb is turning his pain into a purpose.

"The similarities and their circumstances were so parallel to what I had gone through - me and my family - I was compelled to reach out and want to reach out and try to offer some kind of comfort to their family just as much as the community had rallied around my situation had given comfort to me and my family," said Erb.

Erb took his message to Amanda's father at her "Celebration of life" service.

"This is what he said. 'Phil, there's life after death.' We've heard that from many people who've experienced this. And, what strengthens me is to know, in our darkest times, other people have walked through the same valley, these same dark waters and they're on the other side," said Phil Byars.

"There is life after physical death for those who are in Christ Jesus. Amanda was in Christ Jesus. There's life after death for families who've been left behind. We don't grieve as those who have no hope. We have the hope of eternal life in heaven. We know that's where she is. I'm going to see her again someday," said Byars.

Yesterday in South Carolina, Amanda's father and husband told me how they are leaning on their faith. Encouraged by prayers they are receiving and buoyed by stories from Christians who have gone through similar tragedies.

"I can't imagine going through something like this without the body of Christ," said Pastor Davey Blackburn. "We have a fundamental belief that you can't do life alone. And I'm seeing that in reality a lot right now. If we didn't have believers, the body of Christ, if we didn't have pastors coming in and counseling us, if we didn't have that, I don't know where we would be," said Blackburn.

Two years after his own tragedy, Erb offers encouragement to the Blackburns.

"There is life after death. Joy can return to life, albeit it takes time. It really does take time to go through the healing process," said Erb.

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