For nearly thirty-five years the Oberg family has been sowing their legacy at Simpson University. Three generations have taken part in the growth of the university, reaped the advantage of a Christ-centered education, and grown to be a part of the Simpson family long after graduating. A “legacy student” is defined as a student whose parents attended and graduated from the university. For Jacob Oberg, emphasis falls onto the word legacy. Jacob is in the graduating class of 2022 at Simpson University. He is a part of the Theology and Ministry department, majoring in cross cultural studies. Jacob’s passion for ministry has been developing for over twenty years, being raised by his missionary parents, Kevin and Bonnie Oberg, who met during their time at Simpson University. Kevin Oberg took part in Simpson’s move from San Francisco to Redding, and the evidence of his help is sprinkled throughout the Redding campus, as he did a large majority of the original landscaping, which is still seen today. Kevin’s parents, Samuel and Edythe Oberg, planted all the roses seen around campus.
Kevin and Bonnie Oberg have served as missionaries for the Christian and Missionary Alliance for over twenty years. Jacob was born in Seattle, Washington in 2000 and when he was just four months old, the family moved to Burkina Faso, Africa. For fourteen years they lived in the rural area of West Africa planting churches in different villages. When Jacob was fourteen, the family moved to the capital city of Ouagadougou to serve as team leaders. His parents now live in Senegal, where they are the Regional Directors of Africa for the CMA, overseeing all mission work in Africa under a branch of the CMA.
The phrase “it takes a village” holds a significant meaning to Jacob, who says that being raised in West Africa was quite literally being raised by a whole village. He describes the tight knit, closeness of the communities as more of a family than what you see in the U.S. “The whole community adopts you, that’s just how they are.” He feels the love, support, and investment in his life from the village he was raised in. His education also looked a little different than most kids. For kindergarten through first grade, he attended a French private school, where he became fluent in French. After this, he was homeschooled until seventh grade. When the family moved to the capital city, he began attending an international school, which represented more than 39 different nationalities. “I got to meet people from all over the world,” Jacob said, and this helped spark his passion for international ministry.
The decision to come to Simpson was easy for Jacob, following in the footsteps of his parents and his older brother. His brother is still local to the Redding area, and Jacob was looking forward to being around family while furthering his education. Jacob lives in Gatehouse, which is a housing community for international students and missionary kids. “If it wasn’t for Gatehouse, I probably wouldn’t have come to Simpson,” Jacob said while praising the support and close friendships he’s developed while living in the community.
Jacob’s international travels didn’t stop upon his arrival to Simpson. He has had three international internships, starting with his internship in the Philippines the summer after his freshman year. He spent the summer serving in a church that helped local schools’ outreach to urban communities. “That really gave me a heart and a passion for development and helping people find a place they feel welcome and can call home,” Jacob said. Fast forward a few years, and Jacob just returned from an 8-month tour of Europe and the Middle East, where he had two internships as well as a semester abroad. His journey began with his first internship in Morocco, which was for his major. He then moved onto France, and his internship for his minor. Finally, he landed in Jordan, where he studied for his semester abroad. The truly miraculous part of this story is just how he was able to get there. When Jacob started planning this 8-month itinerary, he realized he needed $25,000 to make it happen. Being a fulltime college student on scholarship, he had no source of income. He began praying for support, and started a GoFundMe, all the while feeling like a crazy person asking for this much money. But he instantly felt God’s hand and provision as the money started pouring in. Random people mailed him checks, people he didn’t even know donating large sums, people he didn’t expect even supporting his ministry. Jacob says he is proof of God’s faithfulness and provision, and it’s truly miraculous he was able to even go.
Jacob has some big shoes to fill, and he is constantly reminded of the impact of his family as he spends every day walking around Simpson’s campus. He sees the imprints of his parents and grandparents around every corner. “It’s really a cool thing,” he describes. “I pick a rose and give it to my girlfriend, and it feels like I’m stepping into my heritage and my grandparent’s legacy.”
With graduation having recently passed, Jacob is faced with the daunting question of what he wants to do now. Short term, he is staying in Redding and applying to the Juvenile Detention Facility as a Peace Officer. Long term, Jacob wants to work with immigrants and refugees. He says, “a big passion of mine growing up between countries is a desire to help people find a place they can call home.” The Oberg family has played a huge part in the development of Simpson University, and Simpson has done the same in the Oberg family. Jacob is a continuation of the legacy the family leaves at Simpson, in the CMA, and in the lives they impact through their ministry.