Tomorrow night family and friends will gather to honor and celebrate the life and legacy of Amanda Blackburn.
The pregnant mother was brutally murdered in a home invasion one year ago.For the first time, her mother is speaking out about losing her daughter and healing her shattered heart.
Amanda, the youngest child of Pastor Phil and Robin Byars of Elkhart, was always the simple girl with the stunning smile.
She married Pastor Davey Blackburn, and they moved to Indianapolis from South Carolina in 2012 to start Resonate Church. Their dream was to create a place of worship for people who don’t normally connect with the church.
"They were on a mission to do great things for God,” Robin said.
But their whole world was turned upside down last year.
On November 10, 2015, several men broke into her home and fatally shot her in the back of her head with her young son in the next room. Three people have been charged with her murder.
"So when this happened I was just like God... why didn't you protect her?” Robin said.
But throughout the past year, Robin says she has felt God at her side in every single breath of every moment of the past year. It is the only way she can explain surviving the pain and traumatic loss of her daughter.
“I look backwards at the year and I am like man Lord you have just completely carried us,” Robin Byars, Amanda’s mother, says.
Many people would be able to get beyond the anger and bitterness, but Robin says that’s just not her. “I begged God out loud I begged him to heal our broken, fractured, shattered hearts... because we were fractured.”
Robin says the healing continues by seeing firsthand how God is using Amanda’s death for a greater purpose.
She and her husband received a letter from a young man in prison the week of Mother's Day, six months after Amanda was killed. He was Amanda’s fifth grade classmate and saw her story on the news.
"He told Phil in this letter that he did something that day that he never dreamed he would do—he bowed his head and called on God to save him."
Robin says there are stories big and small every day that encourage her when she needs it most. She calls them hugs from God.
And for now she has hope in the future, believing Amanda is in Heaven, and she will see her again one day. "I know God was with Amanda literally in that last hour like he has been with us and I comfort myself in that."A spirit that was not afraid was with Amanda Blackburn on her final hour on earth as she fought back against her black attackers (to defend the life of the child she carried, as well as her own), though God was inexplicably absent.
The death of both Amanda Blackburn and the child she carried left me absolutely devastated, and the reaction by her parents and her husband, Davey, have been inexcusable in the face of inherent evil.
Her mother's first interview one year after the murder of Amanda and the daughter she carried is also a form of evil.
Amanda's murderer (and the murderer of the daughter she carried) was a black male who "watched her bleed" until she died.
What God worthy of worship would condone such an action and remain a silent party to this horror?