He is loved by many in North Dakota, is a terrific ambassador for God, and may soon be kicked out of the country. Juwle Nagbe, 68, amazingly serves as a pastor for three congregations in southeastern North Dakota. Every Sunday he leads worship services at 8:15 a.m. at the Enderlin United Methodist Church, followed by a 9:45 service at the Lisbon United Methodist Church, followed by an 11:15 service at the Lisbon First Presbyterian Church.
In the 1990s, Nagbe was caught in the middle of the Liberian Civil War. Hundreds of thousands of people were tortured and murdered, including several of Nagbe’s family members. A student of Nagbe’s told him he was going to be killed, and so he fled to the Ivory Coast.
“I was afraid for my life,” Nagbe said. “It took 27 days of hiding and walking to get out.”
Nagbe made his way to the United States in 1997, first as a college student at Duke and then studying pastoral education in Atlanta. He came to North Dakota in 2010.
“This is where my life is. Here I’m secure. I don’t worry about who is going to kill me in the night,” he said. “People in Lisbon and Enderlin are so loving and receptive. People have good hearts here.”
Nagbe is living here as part of the Deferred Enforced Departure Program. The problem is President Donald Trump is ending the program, which means Nagbe will lose his legal status to stay here after March 31, and will be sent back to Liberia. He has hired a Fargo immigration attorney to help him stay, but this is a very tough fight. Members of his congregations are fully behind Nagbe, and think the world of him.
“You can’t find anybody more caring, compassionate and sincere than him,” said Glen Fuhrman, a member of the Enderlin United Methodist Church. “He’s loved, admired and looked up to. I really want him to stay.”
“He’s wonderful. Great for our congregation,” said Ross Cole of the Lisbon First Presbyterian Church. “He’s very caring. It would be a big loss for us.”
“I have never found a kinder more sincere Christian in my life,” said Dean Kirsch of the Lisbon First Presbyterian Church. “He’s like a brother to me.”
Nagbe is fighting hard to stay, but he says God is in control.
“I want to stay because I’m doing ministry,” Nagbe said. “Leaving them would be leaving part of me behind. I have become one with them.”
Of course Nagbe should be allowed to stay. Trump’s decision hurts a lot of people for no good reason. Nagbe has no life in Liberia. However, in Lisbon and Enderlin, Nagbe is serving a real constructive purpose. He is affecting many people’s lives in a very positive way.
“I should be allowed to stay because I’m helping people change their lives,” Nagbe said. “I love America and I’m paying back.”