The family of Charles Wesco, an American missionary who was shot dead in Cameroon this week, are expected to arrive back in the United States this weekend. Wesco, an Indiana native who had been on mission with his wife and eight kids in the volatile North Eastern region, was shot in the head while traveling in his car just outside the city of Bamenda on Tuesday.
The family had only been in the central African nation for a few weeks when the tragedy occurred. Details over those behind the killing remain murky, though the government has insisted that Wesco was caught up in a crossfire between security forces and separatist rebels.
As of Thursday morning, Wesco’s wife and children had left the dangerous area where they were living and traveled to the Cameroonian capital of Yaoundé, according to The Indy Star. Dave Halyaman the pastor of the family’s home church, said that the devastated family plans to fly back to the U.S. on Saturday.
It has been reported that the family knew of the risks they were taking by traveling to such a volatile region. In fact, contained within the family’s monthly newsletter update for September – October were some ominous words about the imminent threats they faced having just arrived in the tense North West region, including the imposition of a strict 6 p.m. curfew on those living in the English-speaking areas.
“Monday, was a strictly observed weekly ‘Ghost Town’ day, when English section civilians are not allowed to safely leave their homes or operate their businesses without risking loss or death,” the family noted in its newsletter. “It is a limiting situation in spreading the gospel to have this 6PM daily curfew in our section of Cameroon (this is roughly the time of year-round dusk in Cameroon). Keep praying earnestly for a return of peace to the English and French sections of Cameroon!”
This was confirmed by Halyaman, who said the group “knew there was fighting,” and further that they “didn’t go into it blind.”
A GoFundMe campaign has been started to help support the family with their finances, as Stephanie is tasked with raising the couple’s eight children on her own. So far, over $75,000 has been raised.
Prior to her husband’s death, Stephanie posted a heartbreaking message to her friends and family back home.
“I’m sharing what is worse than a nightmare. My precious husband was shot in the head on our way to town today. He is fighting for his life. Please pray,” she said.
Then, later, Stephanie issued a tragic update.
“My Precious husband, Charles, is now with the Savior he adored and faithfully served for many years. His life focus was seeking to cause others to love Jesus and serve him,” she wrote. “My prayer is that somehow someway Jesus will be glorified through my Precious Charles’ death and that God will not let his death have been in vain. He is receiving the Martyrs crown from his Lord. My heart is broken. I want to wake up from a horrific nightmare. Please pray for us.”
According to the GoFundMe page, the money raised will go “to aid the family in getting out of Africa, funeral expenses, living expenses, etc.”
“The family sold all of their possessions here in the states to go to Africa and they will have many needs when they return,” the page noted.
The assistant pastor at Believers Baptist Church in Warsaw, Indiana, noted that Charles’ body is expected to be flown back to the U.S. by the end of this, at which point a funeral will take place in Warsaw.
Halyaman noted that although his church family is absolutely devastated by the tragedy, they know that “God is in perfect control.”
Wesco “loved God and loved service,” the pastor added. “He was smart, and he had a good heart, too.”
On Thursday evening, an obituary was posted on the GoFundMe page. It reads:
Charles Truman Wesco went home to be with His Lord and Savior while serving the Lord as a missionary in Cameroon, Africa on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at the age of 44. Charles was formerly of Warsaw, Indiana.
Charles Truman Wesco was the firstborn of ten children, son of Virgil and Rebecca (Walter) Wesco of Mishawaka, Indiana, born on August 24, 1974, at K.I. Sawyer AFB in Michigan where his father was serving in the military. He was named after his grandfathers: Charles Walter and Truman Weco. He grew up as a Pastor’s child in churches in the Midwest.
As a boy, he loved reading, building forts, romping in the creek, and helping rake leaves and take down trees at his grandparents. He faithfully invested in the lives of his younger siblings as they were all home schooled together.
Charles also developed many construction skills as he helped his family renovate and add on to their home. His parents instilled a love for memorizing God’s Word in him at an early age, encouraging him to learn the book of Jonah to earn his first study Bible. He completed 15 years of Bible Memory in the AWANA program receiving the Citation Award. Beyond that, he committed to memory a large part of the New Testament and many large passages in the Old Testament. That love for learning and studying God’s Word lasted his entire life.
Charles accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior from sin at the age of 4. It was then that he asked God to forgive him of his sins and placed his trust for salvation from sin and hell in Jesus Christ. By the age of 8, he knew that God wanted him to serve in some sort of ministry, and at the age of 15, under the preaching of Pastor David Miller at First Baptist Church in Mishawaka, Indiana, he surrendered to go wherever God wanted him to go.
Charles loved working with children and was actively involved in his church’s AWANA program for many years.
When he was 12 years old, his grandparents gave him a tuning hammer, and he began tuning hammer and he began tuning pianos at Walter Piano Company. Because of the blessing of working in his grandparents’, (Charles and Barbara Walter) piano company, Charles learned how to tune pianos and worked and saved to prepare for a family. This also supported him when he served in ministry. He also attended Midwest School of Theology, Northland Baptist Bible College, and Baptist College of Ministry to receive Bible training.
At age 29, Charles fell in love with Stephanie Williams from Warsaw, Indiana. In God’s providence he tuned the piano of Pastor Don Williams who happened to be Stephanie’s father. Their piano apparently did not hold tune well, and his visits became very frequent and led to Stephanie becoming the love of his life and his loving wife.
They married on November 20, 2004 at First Baptist Church, in Mishawaka, Indiana. The Lord began blessing them with children which ended up being 8, with 3 babies also in heaven. They enjoyed almost 14 years of marriage together.
Charles served as an assistant pastor at Fellowship Baptist Church in South Bend, Indiana for 10 years. He loved working with the young people and started a Bible Institute to help see them trained and equipped to serve the Lord. It was his heart’s desire to see young people have a walk with God and to be surrendered to Him. He also served at Believers Baptist Church in Warsaw, Indiana.
In 2015, Charles, Stephanie, and their 2 oldest sons, Daniel and Charles Jr. went on a survey trip to Cameroon, West Africa, believing the Lord was leading them to serve in mission work there. During that time the Lord confirmed their calling through direct answers to prayer, and they spent the next couple of years raising support to return to Cameroon. The Wesco family arrived in Cameroon on October 18, 2018. Charles was so excited. On October 30, 2018, Charles gave his life for the people of Cameroon, West Africa. He is with his Lord and Savior who he faithfully loved and served and has received the martyr’s crown.
He is survived by his wife, Stephanie and 8 children-Daniel, Charles Jr., Joseph, Hudson Taylor, Stephanie Joyanna, Samuel, Caleb and Emmeline. His parents, Virgil and Rebecca Wesco, and siblings-Jonathan, Virgil Jr., Ruth, Stephen, Timothy, Nathaniel, Karisse, Lawrence and Joel, as well as in-laws and many nieces and nephews. His grandparents, Charles and Barbara Walter.
Also surviving him are his wife’s family, who dearly loved him: Donald and Wenda Williams, Faith, Grace, Stephen, Hope, Joy, Mercy, Mary, John, Daniel, in-laws, and nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Truman and Zelma Wesco and 3 children, Hosanna, Peace and Rose. Charles loved all of his family dearly and desired that each one would love the Lord God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.
Please remember the Wesco family in your prayers at this difficult time, and ask God to protect and comfort them during their return to the United States.