As I was browsing Facebook early in the morning, I came across an article covering the Wesco tragedy in Cameroon. This was the first I had heard of the news.
Only a few weeks ago, a 44-year-old man named Charles Wesco from Indiana flew his wife Stephanie and their eight children to Cameroon to begin full-time vocational mission work. After spending two years raising support, their church, Believers Baptist in Warsaw, sent the family on their way. Everyone was excited to see years of labor come to fruition as the Wescos stepped onto a plane headed for Yaoundé.
For the past couple of years, there has been some unrest in Cameroon between the English-speaking regions of the country and the French-speaking majority. Protests against marginalization and discrimination have been ongoing from the English-speaking side. Sadly, hundreds have fallen in this deadly socio-political wrestling. One of the most concentrated areas of violence has been in the city of Bamenda, which is where the Wescos would be living.
The Wescos and everyone who heard their passionate vision were fully aware of the risks. Some objected to their going, but others were inspired by Charles and Stephanie’s heart for the people of Cameroon. Even now, after tragedy struck, people are being inspired by the Wescos.
Two weeks after landing in the country, Charles was driving to the city market with his wife and son. On the way, Charles was struck by a bullet that broke through the windshield of the car. It’s still unclear who fired the shot or whether it was intentional, but the wound Charles received was fatal. After several hours of emergency surgery at the city hospital, Charles met his Lord.
After reading the article, my heart was struck with pain and grief for Stephanie and her eight children. I can only imagine the horror of that moment. That’s something she and her son will never forget. But, what I will never forget are the words Stephanie spoke concerning her husband’s death. She said, “I know God allowed it for a purpose.” I hope that when my faith is tested by fire that I will be able to have the courage to speak this way. I hope everyone will.
I scrolled down to read some of the comments and I was equally grieved by what I read. Dozens of people saying Charles deserved to die for being so ignorant or for spreading his religion of hate. Many people called his venture vain or a failure. The most common sentiment was that Charles was a fool. But, what many of these people don’t understand is that he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.
We are but luxuries in the mission of God— inessential, yet desirable. God does not need us to save his people, but we are invited, encouraged, and empowered to participate in this great work. Our participation is not deemed worthy through our accomplishments but through our obedience. Even though Charles and Stephanie spent only two weeks in Cameroon, they achieved what every missionary and Christian should hope for. They got to show the world how precious is the name of Jesus!
Bullets cannot end the mission of God! If anything, they do the complete opposite. We are called to live lives worthy of the gospel to show the world that God’s grace is sufficient in all things at all times for all peoples who believe in Jesus.
Charles obeyed! He knew the risks and he obeyed. Why? Because Jesus was more precious than the threats. Telling others of Christ’s preciousness was more valuable than the danger. This is what the world does not understand, which is exactly why mission exists! Like John Piper says, “Mission exists because worship doesn’t.” People need to know that Jesus is more precious than life. By God’s grace and providence, Charles and Stephanie have done just that.
Charles and Stephanie Wesco are heroes of the faith. We should be inspired by their devotion. Would you consider praying or reaching out to the Wesco family? Would you pray for Cameroon? Would you ask God for a bounty of fruit to come out of this tragedy? Consider for yourself how you might live today in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. To God be the glory forever more!
After reading the article and thinking about all of these things, I couldn’t help but remember Martin Luther’s hymn A Mighty Fortress is Our God.
Let goods and kindred go
This mortal life also
The body they may kill
God’s truth abideth still
His kingdom is forever
-from encompassworldpartners.org. This article was written by Encompass World Partners staff writer Cody Irwin.