Missionary Charles Wesco killed while working with family in Africa

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Steve Davis's picture

Very sad. I happen to be in Cameroon at this time. The incident took place in another region. There's been a lot going on there. Still not clear on whether accidental (stray bullet) or intentional. 

Jim's picture


U.S. missionary shot and killed in front of wife and son amid escalating Cameroon crisis

Dave Halyaman, assistant pastor at Believers Baptist Church in Warsaw, Ind., which sent Wesco and his family on its mission to Cameroon, told The Washington Post that the church “is grieving greatly the murder of Charles Wesco, but we are also trusting God that he has a purpose in all of this.” The congregation’s senior pastor is Wesco’s father-in-law, he said.

The family was living in a suburb of Bamenda, a major town in Cameroon’s northwest Anglophone region, Halyaman said.

Unrest broke out in that region in late 2016 over complaints that the Anglophone community was being marginalized by Cameroon’s central government, which is largely controlled by French speakers. The country is bilingual, but Francophones have historically held more governmental power than English speakers. Security forces stifled peaceful protests in the Anglophone regions, and an armed separatist movement emerged. Around 400 civilians have been killed in violence in the country’s two Anglophone regions. Tens of thousands have fled the country as refugees and others are now internally displaced.

Halyaman said that Wesco, his wife and one of their sons were traveling with another missionary to go shopping on Tuesday morning when at least two shots were fired, striking the windshield and hitting Wesco twice. “He was unconscious,” Halyaman said, adding that Wesco was taken to a nearby clinic for treatment, then transferred to a hospital in Bamenda where “doctors attempted to resuscitate him but were unsuccessful.”

Halyaman described the area they were in as having “a lot of high weeds.” On social media, some placed the blame on government troops and others on armed separatists, but Halyaman said it was not immediately clear who shot at the vehicle.

Cameroonian Defense Minister Joseph Beti Assomo released a statement saying that “a group of terrorists” shot at Wesco’s vehicle around nine miles from Bamenda, striking him in the temple. Security forces tracked the group, the statement said, then engaged in crossfire with them, killing four. A U.S. State Department official confirmed to The Post that an American citizen died in Bamenda on Tuesday but did not offer further details.

Doctors Without Borders, the international aid group that goes by the initials MSF, told The Post in an email that “an MSF ambulance transported the man” who died in Bamenda, and that he died at a hospital supported by the group.


Jim's picture


An American missionary died in northwestern Cameroon after being shot in the head Tuesday amid fighting between armed separatists and soldiers, the director of the regional hospital said.

Charles Trumann Wesco, a missionary from the U.S. state of Indiana who had been in the region for two weeks, was rushed to the hospital in Bamenda after he was gravely wounded while in his car, hospital director Kingue Thomson Njie said.

“He died in our hospital after all attempts to save his life,” Njie told The Associated Press.

Wesco’s wife and eight children were still in Bamenda, he said. It was unclear if any of them were harmed or if someone else was with him in the car.

The missionary’s brother is a state lawmaker in Indiana. Republican Rep. Tim Wesco confirmed his older brother’s death and said, “He loved the Lord. He loved people. The Lord giveth. The Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Charles and the entire Wesco family have been great friends and supporters of Dr. John Whitcomb and Whitcomb Ministries. We grieve with his family at this time of loss, but rejoice that Charles is with the Lord in heaven.

Church Ministries Representative, serving in the Midwest, for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry 

Jim's picture


Virgil Wesco, pastor emeritus of Fellowship Baptist Church in South Bend, Indiana, and his wife, Rebecca Wesco, told NBC affiliate WNDU of South Bend that their son Charles was killed as he and his wife were returning from shopping.

Robert Paladino, a spokesman for the State Department, confirmed that a U.S. citizen had been killed in Cameroon, but he said he had no further information. Armed separatists in the region have called for a boycott of local schools, contending that the French-language schools discriminate against English-speaking students.

Wesco's parents said their son and his family had spent the last two years planning for their mission to Cameroon. Charles and Stephanie Wesco moved to Cameroon with their eight children about two weeks ago, they said.

Wesco served as assistant pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in South Bend, where his father is the pastor emeritus, his parents said.

"My husband has already prayed for his killer," Rebecca Wesco said. "Charles would want us to do that."

Virgil Wesco said: "He cared for the people, and he was willing to risk his life to go to them."

WallyMorris's picture

The Wescos were in our church earlier this year. Exceptional, talented family. I was in the extreme north of Cameroon 11 years ago exactly at this time of the year. The country was relatively stable then. The missionaries we supported in the extreme north eventually had to leave because foreigners were being kidnaped for extortion. One of those families will be in our church this Sunday.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN


Jim's picture


The Wesco family had spent years raising funds for their move to Cameroon, said Pastor Dave Halyaman of the US-based Believers Baptist Church, which sent the family on the mission.

He told the BBC that Mr Wesco's wife, Stephanie, had described her husband's death as a tragedy but she said that she believed God allowed it for a purpose.

He said the church was being assisted by the US State Department in their efforts to bring the Wesco family home to the US "hopefully in a week or less".

Jim's picture


The family of an American missionary who was shot and killed in front of his wife and son in Cameroon will travel back home to Indiana this week, a pastor told IndyStar on Thursday.

Wesco’s wife and their eight children have left the area and as of Thursday morning were headed to the Cameroon capital of Yaoundé, Halyaman said. They plan to fly back to the U.S. on Saturday, he said. The family is from Mishawaka, a city in northern Indiana. They traveled to Cameroon almost two weeks ago , Halyaman said.

Halyaman said the Wescos were aware of the dangers in the region.

“They knew there was fighting,” he told IndyStar. “They didn’t go into it blind.”

Halyaman said the body of Charles Wesco is expected to be flown back to the U.S. by the end of this week for a funeral in Warsaw.

Wesco’s brother is Indiana House Rep. Timothy Wesco. Gov. Holcomb released a statement on Tuesday, saying he and his wife “are thinking of Rep. Tim Wesco and his family as they grieve the death of his brother Charles.”

Halyaman said the church mourns Wesco’s death, but said they believe “God is in perfect control.” He described Wesco as a business owner — he ran a piano tuning service — who “loved God and loved service.”

“He was smart," Halyaman said, "and he had a good heart, too, "

Jim's picture

  • I talked with Stephanie's father today: Pastor Don Williams of http://www.believersbaptistwarsaw.org
  • She intends to move to the Warsaw IN area and should arrive this weekend
  • The oldest boy witnessed Charles' death and this has been (as can be imagined) very difficult on him
  • Memorial gifts may be sent to the mission board here: 
    • First Light Baptist Mission, 3030 Witzel Avenue, Oshkosh, WI 54904
    • Put "Wesco Relief" in the memo field
JBL's picture

Thank you for these continued updates.  My former church had a very good relationship with the Williams family, and through them, knew the Wescos. 

We are, of course, saddened for the family and children for the abrupt loss.

John B. Lee

Jim's picture


Arrangements are pending with Redpath-Fruth Funeral Home, 225 Argonne Road, Warsaw, Indiana. 


Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Psalm 116:15

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.

Jay's picture

Halyaman said that Wesco, his wife and one of their sons were traveling with another missionary to go shopping on Tuesday morning when at least two shots were fired, striking the windshield and hitting Wesco twice. 

I personally know the other missionary that Wesco was traveling with when he was murdered.  I have no idea where he is or how he is doing right now - we last spoke a few weeks ago - but I'm sure that he and his family will also appreciate our prayers.  Once I know how he is doing for sure and what their immediate plans are, I'll post an update.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Jim's picture

'She Has No Bitterness in Her Soul': Cameroon Missionary Widow Forgives Husband's Killer

Pastor Randy King delivered the sermon at the service. He and his family have also served as missionaries to Cameroon, for 30 years. 

"We've all lost a friend, haven't we?" King asked as he started his talk. "Charles definitely loved the people of Cameroon. So do we, having lived there with those precious people for 30 years. We love the Cameroonians.  All of them, including the person who killed Charles."

"We love them because Christ first loved us and came to save us from our sins," he continued. 

"Sister Stephanie (Wesco's wife) has accessed the grace of God," King noted. "She has totally forgiven Charles' killer. She has no bitterness in her soul against anyone."

"She, her children and her extended family have been praying diligently for the man that took Charles' life," he said. "We do not know the name of that man. But I pray as a missionary to Cameroon that I or her brother Ben Sinclair might one day have the opportunity to meet Charles' killer to express our forgiveness to him and in love, seek to lead him to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior that he might also receive God's forgiveness for what he did."

"Moments after Charles was pronounced dead, a Cameroonian Christian doctor bowed and thanked Stephanie for her and her husband's willingness to come to Cameroon to die for his people," King continued. 

A Go Fund Me account has been set up to benefit the Wesco family. "The funds will go to aid the family in getting out of Africa, funeral expenses, living expenses, etc. Every little bit will help. The family sold all of their possessions here in the states to go to Africa and they will have many needs when they return," according to the website. 

There is also a mailing address included on the website for those who wish to mail a personal check.