CL pastor had close ties to American teacher shot in Iraq

   Time spent in Iraq is inherently dangerous, even for those associated with mission work.  But the Rev. Dean Hess, from Clear Lake, said he was shocked and surprised to learn of the recent murder of a teacher with whom he lived and worked with in 2008.
    “There is danger, but it never occurred to me that it would occur in school,” said Hess, reflecting upon the life of Jeremiah Small.

    Small, 33, from Cosmopolis, Wash., was shot Thursday, March 1, by an 18-year-old student who then turned the gun on himself.  Details of the events leading up to the murder-suicide are still unclear. 
    Hess described the school as a secure facility, surrounded by blast walls and guarded by Kurdish military police. Hess added that he did not recognize the name of Small’s alleged killer. 
    “Finding out exactly what happened will tell lot, but it has to have a chilling effect to those serving,” he said.
    Hess explained that he and Small spent a considerable amount of time together in 2008 while the Zion Lutheran Church senior pastor was on sabbatical.  Both were associated with Servant Group International, based in Nashville, Tenn., and worked as teachers at the Classical School of the Medes, private Christian academy of elementary through secondary grade level classes for four months.  The school was located in Sulaimaniyah, about 160 miles northeast of Baghdad.   Jeff Dokkestul, a Servant Group International board member, said Small was one of nine American teachers at the Sulaimaniyah school run by Iraqi Kurds. Dokkestul said although the group’s teachers are Christian, he maintained that they do not proselytize their students. 
    Dokkestul described Small as a beloved mentor to the more than 1,000 Iraqi students he taught since 2005.
    Hess agreed.
    “Jeremiah was always working for the kids; he was invested.  He helped to form after school clubs, like an ecology club.  He had a close relationships with his students,” said Hess. He called Small committed to his faith, the Iraqi people and his students.  “He felt called to be there.”
    “In the morning we were teaching in the school-- I taught - Read More Via e-Edition

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