Rev. Dr. Jon Diefenthaler tells the story of an old pastor who would go around and ask people, "When is a sermon a good sermon?" As it turns out, the pastor knew the response he was looking for: when it is lived.
This longing to encourage people to live the gospel is at the heart of Pastor Diefenthaler's longstanding relationship with Lutheran World Relief. "We hope the gospel that we preach will accomplish something in the lives of the people; that they will actually do something to live out their faith in Jesus Christ." For Diefenthaler, giving to Lutheran World Relief is one way he inspires others to contribute to the process of bringing the kingdom of God into this world.
Pastor Diefenthaler has supported the ministry of LWR in a myriad of ways throughout his career. As a parish pastor for nearly 30 years, his congregations were filled with strong advocates for LWR. Later as a District President, he deepened his relationship with LWR as one of its board members.
While serving on the board, Pastor Diefenthaler had an opportunity to witness the love of Jesus at work in Tanzania. Lutheran World Relief, working in partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, was teaching school-aged kids how to properly use bednets to eradicate malaria. He will never forget a conversation he had with a pastor who described in agony the 70- plus funerals the pastor had conducted the previous year for people who had died from malaria. In that conversation, Pastor Diefenthaler realized how important the work of LWR was for the church's ministry.
"The work LWR is doing overseas is making such a significant difference in people's lives," Pastor Diefenthaler says. "LWR is transforming lives and in many cases, saving lives, which I believe is part of the ministry to which our Lord has called us."
Today Diefenthaler lives out his faith by serving as a Church Relations Advisor for LWR. He is passionate about helping congregations fulfill Jesus' command to love their neighbor as themselves.
Until your love reaches every neighbor.