Wartburg Seminary students around the globe - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Wartburg Seminary students around the globe

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Red Cross estimates Haiti's recent earthquake death toll at 50 thousand. An amount that's comparable to the population of Dubuque. Among the victims is Eastern Iowa seminary student Ben Larson. Larson was a Master's in Divinity senior at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, and a 2006 graduate of Luther College in Decorah.

The commons inside Wartburg Theological Seminary sat in silence Thursday night. With most of Wartburg's student body spread around the world for J-term courses and experiences, January at the seminary is always a quiet month. Despite distance, Wartburg Theological Seminary students around the world learned the news of their fellow student's death.

But to feel the strength of community all you have to do is look up at the common's ceiling at the nearly 20 different flags representing all the places Wartburg is present.

"We have messages coming in from all these places," said Craig Nessan.

This January students are spread across the globe; all the way to Iceland and Geneva to closer places like Milwaukee and North Dakota. Each location with a unique experience that helps students shape their faith.

"They go to places in the world like Haiti, where poverty is just a terrible problem. A place like India where you're dealing with an interface of any different world religions. Students have to think about what it means to be witnesses in their faith," said Nessan.

Which is exactly what Ben Larson, his wife Renee and his cousin Jonathan were doing in Haiti. Ben and Jonathan served as teachers at The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Haiti and Renee working on her thesis.

"They were a great service to the church and it look like everything was going wonderfully," said Nessan.

Tuesday's earthquake changed everything. All three were in the same building at the time of the quake. Renee and Jonathan made it out. Ben did not. Now the global community is coming together, in strength and faith to remember Ben Larson.

"Apart for your own faith in god, it's leaning on one another, crying with one another, encourage another that really helps us at this time," said Nessan.

Thanks to technology all members of the Wartburg community were notified Thursday afternoon. As the lost of their own continues to set in Wartburg's moving forward with a prayer service for both Ben Larson and the entire count of Haiti. The service is Friday at 10:30 a.m., all are welcomed.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires

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