Meet the Diffenderfers!
Ryan is a native of Mifflinton, Pennsylvania where he grew up on a dairy farm. He grew up attending church with his parents but firmly placed his trust in Jesus at age 17. A year later, instead of attending college, he remained at home and worked. This he really feels was God’s leading, because shortly after this decision his mother was injured and he became responsible for the farm. It was during this time that their church became in need of a new youth pastor. Ryan filled the position as interim and discovered a deep passion for evangelism and teaching God’s Word to others.
He pursued more training to better understand and teach the Word of God. He completed a 3-year degree at Elim Bible Institute in Lima, NY. It was there that he met some knowledgeable professors/mentors that also grew his love of reading from authors such as Tim Keller, R.C. Sproul, John Piper, Matt Chandler, James K.A. Smith, C.S. Lewis, Philip Yancey, and D.A. Carson. Ryan is currently finishing up his Bachelor’s Degree at Lancaster Bible College. They have accepted all Elim Bible credits and he will graduate this June.
It was also at Elim that Ryan met his wife of 7 years, Melanie. He says that she is definitely the better part of this deal. She also graduated from Elim Bible Institute and has a heart to counsel and lead young women. She enjoys hosting friends, play dates with fellow families, and beating him in card games. Melanie has also been a small group leader in the past for the Bible Study Fellowship group located in their area. They are the proud parents of four wonderful children; Bryson (6), Emerie (4), Asher (2), and Libby (4 months).
Ryan comes with 12 years of ministry experience, ranging from volunteer youth leader in a smaller congregation to summers and years of part-time year-round employment as a camp Counselor and Assistant Program Director at Brethren in Christ Camp & Assistant Director at Hopewell Summer Camps, to most recently youth pastor/associate pastor/interim head elder at his current church in Wilmington, DE.
He has been working with youth and young adults for the past 5 years at Immanuel Church, as well as filling the pulpit on rotation as their church searches for a new executive pastor. He enjoys one on one discipleship and often meets weekly with youth for meals, events, and sports games. He and Melanie love hosting youth in their home for bi-monthly Bible study, in addition to weekly youth group meeting times. He is also very capable and efficient in planning bigger events, such as retreats, summer camp, game nights, outreach programs/events, and missions trips (local and international). He has taken youth groups to Costa Rica in 2016, 2017, and 2019.
Ryan stated in his cover letter when applying for this position that his heart raced as he was reading material about New Life. He is looking for a church that is committed to spreading the gospel in its surrounding community while strengthening believers through discipleship.
Favorite Food: Lasagna
Favorite Snack: Ice Cream
Favorite Book of Bible: Ecclesiastes
Favorite person in the Bible: Joseph
Favorite Game: Settlers of Catan, Catch Phrase, and Kan Jam
Favorite Sports Teams: Penn State, Phillies, and Redskins
Favorite Hymn: 'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
Favorite Current Worship Song: Graves into Gardens - Elevation