Being Remembered for What Matters: Some Thoughts on Ethan Roser

"since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses"

It’s a sad, even tragic, thing to read news stories about an accidental death. The stories focus on, well, the accident. And, to be honest, they are hard to read.

We saw that recently in the death of one of our students at Wheaton College. His name was Ethan Roser. And, yes, he died in a tragic accident that made national headlines.

But that’s not why we should remember him—there is better way.

So, yes, on Saturday, April 22, Wheaton College suffered the painful loss of one of our own: freshman transfer student Ethan Roser. But Ethan wasn’t just a Fischer Hall resident, soccer player, or aspiring pastor. He was a child of God and a young man beloved by countless students and faculty members in our community. It goes without saying that he will be dearly missed.

Ethan was a student in one of our evangelism classes—an elective, so he sought out the topic. Jerry Root, on our team here at the Billy Graham Center, was his professor. As he talked with Ethan, it became clear that he had a deep and abiding love for the spread of the gospel. Student after student acknowledged his warm heart, willingness to share, and deep desire to grow as a disciple of Christ.

His love for God, one student remarked, was simply contagious.

As much as Ethan wanted to grow in his own relationship with the Lord, he longed for others to do the same. His professor asked his fellow students if they wanted to share anything about him, and they gave me permission to use their words.

One student remarked that he “yearned for people to know God’s love.” Another added that, as a result, he bravely followed the “promptings of the Holy Spirit” in deciding when and how to share his faith. Story after story, …

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