Something About Africa · Tanzania

A Place of Forgiveness and Hope

We have had an exceptionally bad week.

Well, week and a half, really.  If you’ve wondered why we’ve been so quiet lately, here’s the scoop…

We moved to Tanzania to team up with the Erdman family and share the Gospel of Jesus with the children and staff at Neema Village.  But last Sunday afternoon, the Erdmans were fired.  The timing felt totally random–no one was prepared for it and it was just awful.  Jonathan and I were not expecting it, Matt and Kelly felt blindsided by it, their daughters’ hearts were not ready for it, and the majority of Neema’s staff were brought to tears because of it.

To be honest, if the Erdmans weren’t going to be here, our family would not have moved across the world for this.  Anyone with experience in missions knows how important good teammates are.  We knew coming into this that we needed community.  We looked forward to working with them.  Almost every day since we’ve been here Tylee and Ember have asked me if they would get to see Camille and Tabitha that day.  Excitedly, I’ve pointed them to the day when these friends would live at the top of the hill–just as soon as the Directors Cottage was completed.

But now they will not finish their work here and they will not live in that house.  We no longer have a young family to be teammates with and we are really, really sad.

The story behind why they were fired is not mine to share.  The board members told us Matt and Kelly did an exceptional job.  They said the money was good, the projects were good, and there are a lot of babies here who are only alive because of the work the Erdmans did for Neema.  If things were handled differently, the Erdmans would have probably agreed that this wasn’t a long-term fit for their family.  It is a very unfortunate situation and we are truly mourning.

Our boys were supposed to move in the Monday that followed all of this chaos.  We have pushed back their move-in date to June 1st.  We have honestly really questioned whether or not we would stay and work with Neema.  What if, three years from now, the same thing happens to us??  But despite how this situation has unfolded, our goals remain the same and we are not ready to give up on these boys we already love.

Neema Village is still an outstanding rescue center and the goals of the board of directors are still filled with love and care for these children.  On the wall in the big baby home is a decal that reads, “A place of forgiveness and hope.”  That is our ambition.  We have hope that everyone can move forward and that there can be forgiveness in every direction.  We are staying.  We are committed.  There is still hope.  And in Jesus, there is always more forgiveness.

Pray with us.

forgiveness and hope


even so, it is well with my soul.

4 thoughts on “A Place of Forgiveness and Hope

  1. My dear ones, my heart aches for you. Billy Joe and Betty are like family. I admire your tenacity and pray for all your family. You are there “for such a time as this.” I also pray for the Erdman family. They have done such things for those babies.

  2. yes, forgiveness and hope. But also truth. Gather your courage and make sure that the truth is spoken. For the sake of your family and for all the lives who depend on Neema house.

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