Dave and Laura Diehl describe turning tragedy into purpose in Episode 039

Today I am interviewing a husband and wife team who turned the tragedy of losing their daughter into a purpose to minister to other grieving parents.

Laura and Dave Diehl are from Wisconsin, where they raised five children. Dave worked in information technology while Laura was involved in international children’s ministry where she traveled to 15 different countries.

Their lives took a devastating turn when their daughter, Rebecca, was diagnosed with cancer at age 3 and had to endure nine months of chemotherapy as well as having her leg amputated because the tumor was in her leg bone.

Later, they discovered the chemotherapy drugs administered to Rebecca actually weakened her heart to the point the girl needed a heart transplant, too. When Rebecca was 29 years old, her body finally gave out and she died.

That experience sent the couple, especially Laura, into a very dark place for three years. Now in her 50s, that’s when Laura decided to pour her grief out on paper by writing a book titled “When Tragedy Strikes, Rebuilding Your Life with Hope and Healing After the Death of Your Child.”

When she started blogging about her experience, Laura realized she had been called into full-time ministry to help grieving parents. She and Dave developed a platform called GPS Hope, which stands for Grieving Parents Sharing Hope.

The Diehls’ ministry started as a home-based small group serving their Wisconsin church family. They were motivated to do something after discovering all the available resources about losing a child were dark and offered little, if any, hope to parents.

Soon, their small group expanded to a larger community, and Laura started blogging about her experiences and sharing her hope with hopeless parents. The blogging turned into books and, despite never having written a book before, Laura completed five books within 13 months.

As their ministry grew, Dave and Laura felt called to take their message to a much wider audience. They wanted to help parents around the country as well as support children’s pastors who were on the front lines of providing care to grieving families.

The Diehls contemplated getting an RV and traveling around the country to speak at churches and other events. When Dave suddenly lost his job due to massive corporate restructuring, and he couldn’t find another job, the Diehls saw that as a green light to use RVing as a way to advance their ministry.

When a motorhome came available that was exactly what they needed at a price they could afford, and their home sold much faster than expected, the couple knew God’s hand was involved in the process.

As a result, Dave and Laura have been successful at starting or supporting multiple church groups to care for grieving parents in communities around the country.

Eventually, they started a podcast to help people through their grief and let others know they were not alone in their pain and disillusionment. It is one of the most downloaded shows in that category in 15 different countries.

GPS Hope involves not only ministering to parents who have lost a child, but helping them to protect their marriage as well.

Although Dave and Laura have come off the road for a while in order to spend more time with their children and grandchildren, their ministry continues. To connect with the couple, visit www.gpshope.org.

That’s all I have for this week’s show. If you’d like help in identifying a purpose for your life or to get help planning your next steps, I’m offering a complimentary brainstorming session to members of the Forward From 50 Facebook community. For details, connect with me on Facebook or visit www.forwardfrom50.com.

I’ll have another inspirational interview on the next episode of the Forward From 50 podcast. Thanks for listening. If you like this show, please consider leaving a review wherever you download the episodes.