Everyone on campus can recognize Jacques Bamogo’s unwavering radiant joy he has carried since the moment he stepped foot at Crown College. His story is one that has changed us all for the better and challenged us to follow the Lord faithfully, even when He takes you across the world.
Jacques Bamogo lived in Burkina Faso, his native country in West Africa, when he felt God call him to the United States to study theology. He didn’t know English or have any sort of plan to ensure he had funds — let alone a school to attend — but he listened and began to pursue the calling God had placed on his life.
When Bamogo applied for a Visa to come to the States in 2004, his application was declined. He waited for 10 years before he reapplied, and that time it went through. After hearing the news, he packed up his things and left his wife, children, and everything he knew — unsure when he would see them again.
Bamogo landed in New York City on July 27, 2014 with a tourist visa and immediately sought to enroll in language school to learn English. He enrolled in a free English school, awaiting approval from an accredited English school. A seemingly easy process ended up taking him four months to apply and another eight months to be accepted.
Finally, in November 2015, he began the journey of learning English. His days were reliably busy, attending school and working to support himself in New York and provide for his family back in his home country. Finding quality jobs that worked with his situation and schedule proved difficult, so he graciously took what he could find. Usually the jobs barely made ends meet. Some days, Bamogo would go without eating so he could afford schooling, housing, and supporting his family.
Of course, learning English was no easy task either. Bamogo spent five years in language school, with limited to no opportunity to practice. He was persistent, however, knowing that despite the struggles, God led the entire process.
Finding a Friend
Bamogo served an African immigrant church where he met Pastor Brian Davis, the Site Coordinator for Envision New York City. Davis and Bamogo became close friends in his time there, and Bamogo served alongside him to share the gospel with African immigrants around the city.
Davis knew that Bamogo desperately wanted to find a university to attend in 2017, so he began to help Bamogo search. Although they toured and spoke with many colleges, none seemed to be the right fit. Numerous extra steps make finding a college as an international student challenging, which led to a long and emotionally draining process.
As 2019 loomed, Davis was catching up with an old friend who happened to be part of Crown College’s hybrid location in Atlanta. After discussion and guidance from Davis, Bomogo submitted his application to Crown College with optimism.
To be accepted into, international students must take an English assessment to ensure communication and comprehension in the classroom. Even with his language studies, this was a challenging obstacle for Bamogo. He studied diligently, took the test, and prayed he’d score high enough to meet Crown’s requirements.
Bamogo was accepted into Crown College as an international student with no complications — which Bamogo calls “a miracle.”
However, as the process of attending unfolded, a new obstacle emerged. The reality had set in that Bamogo had no financial ability to pay for his tuition. With faith in God’s call, he asked God what to do next. All he heard was to trust Him — so that’s what he did.
A month later, Davis and Bamogo were in the car and Bamogo opened up about his financial situation and concern about attending college. “I had no scholarships, no savings, no aid,” Bamogo shared.
Davis listened and heard the need in Bamogo’s life.
A week later, Davis delivered the biggest blessing in Bamogo’s life to date: “Envision wants to pay for your schooling, Jacques.”
Shocked. Delighted. Excited. Miracle number two! God’s plans followed by His provision. Bamogo’s faithfulness persisted in anticipation of a new adventure at Crown College.
New Days Ahead
In fall 2019, Bamogo packed his bags and stepped onto his flight to Minnesota. He recalls landing in Minnesota and feeling an overwhelming sense of peace, “I knew this place felt like home at that moment.”
Jerry Kragt, Crown’s International Worker in Residence at the time greeted Bamogo at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport upon Bamogo’s arrival. Kragt held a sign marked “Jacques Bamogo”, soon welcoming Bamogo with a warm hug.
Keys in hand and headed to his new home in Miller Hall, Bamogo felt overwhelmed by the reality of this new beginning. The rolling hills and fresh air of St. Bonifacius contrasted his experience in New York City. And, it had now been five years since he’d been in Burkina Faso. For the first few months, he struggled to keep up with school work and follow the lectures. Bamogo recalls with gratitude the tutors and friends who helped him strengthen his English and succeed in the classroom.
One of the first people he met at Crown was Tanner Schaaf. Schaaf described that first time, saying, “I knew from the moment I met Jacques and saw his joy-filled smile that I wanted to be friends with him.”
Bamogo began attending The River Church with Schaaf, carpooling every Sunday. One week, Schaaf asked about Bamogo’s family and how often he gets to see them.
“I haven’t seen my family in five years,” Bamogo admitted.
A Community Surprise
Schaaf knew he had to do something. He and his friends decided to start a GoFundMe for Bamogo with the hopes of raising enough money to fly Bamogo to Burkina Faso to visit his family.
Schaaf looked to keep this a surprise, hoping to give Bamogo the gift all at once with the Crown community present. Schaaf is a skilled photographer, so he asked Bamogo to pose for fall photos — with the underlying intention to use these for the GoFundMe website.
News about the GoFundMe effort spread quickly, and in February at Global Engagement Week, they showcased Bamogo and his story. The community prayed over him and his family. This was extremely special to Bamogo, especially since Burkina Faso was under rampant terrorist attacks at that time. His mother had to move out of her hometown and relocate with Bamogo’s wife and children. This caused Bamogo a lot of pain, as he wanted so desperately to be with his family to protect and comfort them.
On February 23, 2020, the Crown Community gathered together again for Selah, Crown’s Sunday night worship chapel. After a few songs, Schaaf invited Bamogo to the stage and presented him with nearly $2,000 for him to buy a flight home. Bamogo shared he had never been at a loss for words like he was at that moment. He had no idea that they had been working so hard to collect the money — another incredibly large blessing God gave Bamogo.
As Bamogo began to think more about visiting his family, he realized how hard it would be to be there only to leave again to complete his schooling. Then he thought, “What if I brought them here to stay?” He spent time researching this idea and decided to apply for them to come to the United States. Because Bamogo already had an F1 Visa as an international student, he would qualify to get F2 Visas for his family.
Bamogo used the money he received from the community to pay for his families’ Visa applications and began the process. After some time, the Visas were approved and plans began for the entire Bamogo family to come to the U.S. At the time, Bamogo lived in a shared dorm and worried about where his family would live when they arrived. After some conversations, Crown College made space and provided the Bamogos a place to live in Faith Village.
More than a year later, in the summer of 2021, the Bamogo family arrived in Minnesota. They were greeted by Bamogo and some of his Crown family. When Bamogo left his country his youngest son was only seven months old (now seven years old), so it felt like the first time meeting him. A joyous reunion.
In a time where so many people felt alone and isolated in their homes, the Bamogo family felt the fullest they have in years. The minute Bamogo saw his family walk through the doors, the family ran to each other. Embracing each other with smiles and joy-filled tears — the family was together and home.
Crown College welcomed the Bamogo family. Mary Krupski, Executive Assistant to College Relations, and Martha Swift, Director of Student Engagement, played a large part in making sure their new home in Faith Village felt like home. They gathered furniture and made sure they were welcomed with a fridge full of food. Professors made sure the Bamogos were provided with necessary documents to acquire their Visas, and the rest of the community provided the family with gift cards to make shopping easier.
Now, the Bamogo family lives in Faith Village. Two of Bamogo’s sons, Wend Vi Jeriel (age 9) and Wendnonga Japhet (age 7), attend Laketown Elementary School and his eldest, Fasnewende Asaph (age 17), is a senior at Waconia High School. While his children are in school, his wife, Marie Andre, is learning English from Shelly Kragt.
After Bamogo graduates from Crown, he and his family plan to move back to New York City and work with Envision to spread the gospel. Bamogo explains, “West African immigrants move to the States to make money and forget to worship God, too. I want to remind them that worshipping God should come first.”
The Crown College community continues to be blessed by the warmth of the Bamogos’ presence and story. We strive to follow Bamogo’s commitment to patience, persistence, and trust in listening for God’s voice and call in our lives.
By Samantha Bergum