Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Dannah Gresh: In a seemingly random act of violence, Stephanie’s husband Charles was killed. This wasn’t how she wanted the story to go.

Stephanie Wesco: I had a lot of arguments with God in those moments. I remember very clearly thinking that it made no sense why God gave us eight children just to take their daddy.

Dannah: Here’s how she reflected on it to her close friends and supporters.

Stephanie: My prayer is that somehow, some way, Jesus will be glorified through my precious Charles's death and that God will not let his death to have been in vain. He’s receiving the martyr’s crown from His Lord.

My heart is broken. I want to wake up from this horrible nightmare. Please pray for us.

Thank you to all who have been praying for us during these last days that seem like an eternity. My heart is so heavy as I face driving down the road where my husband was killed; having to tell my precious children that their daddy is never coming home; having to start repacking and figuring out what to take back to the States and what to leave. Knowing that Charles is safe in the arms of Jesus brings comfort.

I am so thankful for the promises to cling to from God’s Word. Right now I’m clinging to His promise that all things work together for good for those that love the Lord.

My heart’s desire is that my Lord and Savior that my precious husband loved and served his whole life would be glorified and that there would be a harvest of souls that would love Jesus as their personal Savior from sin through His death.

I know Charles is so happy to be with Jesus. He often talked of looking forward to seeing His Savior face to face. But I miss him beyond description. I wish for one more chance to hear his voice, see his smile, hold his hand, and tell him that I loved him more than he’ll ever know.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, for Wednesday, July 1, 2020. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Today’s program could be traumatic for some children, so if you have a young set of ears nearby, you might want to busy them elsewhere. Remember, you can always listen to the podcast later if you need to. Here’s Nancy. 

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: We’ve been talking with Stephanie Wesco about the story that God has been writing in her life, in her family’s lives. If you missed either of the last two days, you have to go back to ReviveOurHearts.com and hear that conversation, and see how God had been preparing this family; how He brought them together; how He brought eight children into their lives. Hear how they spent two-and-a-half years raising support to go serve the Lord as missionaries in Cameroon—which you may not be familiar with—but it was a country that God put on their hearts in West Africa. They were preparing to go spend the rest of their lives there.

Stephanie, you shared with us yesterday how on day twelve after you had set foot in that country that you had been loving and had been praying for, just on a trip out with your husband and your eleven-year-old son, Charles Jr., and one of the local missionaries there, two shots . . .

We talked about how there was a conflict—some have said it was the government forces, some said it was the insurgent forces, you have no idea. But those shots found their way into Charles’s body . . . and he was gone.

When did you know he was gone?

Stephanie: The shot that hit him was buckshot. If you’re not familiar with that, it’s a shell that holds a lot of little shells. So there was a lot of entry points—a lot of which I didn’t see. I only saw a handful of them.

After the fact we would learn that he went to the Lord instantly, which was such a gift. Finding that out was a gift from the Lord.

But in the car . . . we were only about ten minutes from home when he was killed. So there was a lot of drive time between Bambili and Bamenda.

Nancy: So you continued on?

Stephanie: We continued to the city because that’s where the nearest clinic was.

Nancy: So that was another half hour or so?

Stephanie: We had over a half an hour drive. We were going into the busy part of the day. There was lots of traffic. There’s no traveling like you would envision in the States.

Nancy: Ben is driving. Charles had been sitting in the front seat.

Stephanie: So I was behind him holding him . . . pretty much holding him together. I could tell he was either drowning or something in his own blood. At that point I was still praying for his life.

Obviously, my son is sitting next to me screaming for daddy’s life.

God became very real in those moments, because He was all that we had.

I remember praying things like: “Lord, please part the Red Sea so we can get through” because there would be a whole group of people. At one point there was a herd of cows. So I was praying, “God, get us through.”

We finally got to the clinic. As we pulled in, there was shock on the faces of the people.

Nancy: Shock at seeing Charles's condition?

Stephanie: Yes. They could see him from the front. They could see that we were all spattered in blood.

We had picked up two doctors along the road that were with a group of military. The military just shoved them in the car to go with us. Why God had them in the car that day, I don’t know. Except, I pray that they saw Jesus in the car that day in a way they will never forget.

I don’t know if they knew the condition . . . if they could tell by looking at Charles. But they just rode with us that day for that half an hour, forty minute trip to the clinic.

As we got to that clinic, the hardest thing I ever did was having to let go of him and watching his body so limp. But God was so real to us.

As my son Charles and I got out of the car, this doctor and nurse came and got me. I thought it was because they wanted me to go back with Charles. When we got back to the room, they were trying to lay me down on the bed. I couldn’t understand why they wanted me to lay down. Then I realized that I was so soaked in blood that they thought I was shot too.

It took me a while to convince them that I was not hit at all. It was just my husband.

At that point, they had an orderly that came over. This clinic was so crude. There was no electricity, no running water . . . nothing! We’re talking very third world.

They didn’t want me looking at Charles. I had seen him from the front, and as soon as I saw him from the front . . . When I look back, it was a gift from the Lord, because it was God’s way of letting me know that he wasn’t going to live.

Nancy: Let me clarify. You said he died instantly.

Stephanie: So I would find out later from the doctors that Charles brain had been completely disintegrated by the shots that had hit him, and that he was instantly gone.

I remember staring at that mud block wall and thinking, Lord, we have no one but You. You’re the only one that could intervene now.

Looking back, there’s all of the “whys”; there is all of the things I won’t understand. But six weeks before we had left for Cameroon, at my son Samuel’s sixth birthday party, he had been talking to them about all of the crowns that God promises to believers.

Nancy: The rewards talked about in the New Testament.

Stephanie: The last one I remember that he talked about with them was the martyr’s crown.

I got so mad at him that night. It was the end of September—less than six weeks before he would die. He was talking about that crown almost like he wanted it.

I remember that I said to him, “You have eight kids. How can you even think about desiring the martyr’s crown.”

He was like, “Oh, Honey, not now. But when I’m older . . . We have a lot of years to serve the Lord in Cameroon.”

He said, “If you’re going to die anyway, what better way to meet Jesus than having given your life for Him?”

Then he proceeded to say, “The quickest, easiest way would be a shot to the head.”

I remember standing in that clinic there in Cameroon less than six weeks later thinking, In some sense, God gave Charles (I don’t want to sound morbid) . . . But Charles desired to give his life for the Lord, be it in life or in death. That was his consuming passion. God gave him both desires.

He had served the Lord to the fullest in this life. And even in death . . . The doctor said that he never suffered; he never felt a thing. It was like God gave him that desire of his heart, too.

After they washed me off as good as they could, I went back over by Charles's bed. They were pushing me out. They didn’t want me in there. But I grabbed his phone. They had taken his socks off. His feet are always the last thing I’ll remember since I didn’t want to look at his face. It was a mess.

But I looked at his feet and thought of that verse that says, “How beautiful are the feet of them who bring the gospel of peace.”

His feet were the most beautiful thing to me. One of his shoes had fallen out from the car when they drug his body out. That shoe still has Cameroonian dirt all over it.

It’s just a reminder to me that Charles died giving his life for the most precious reason in the world. Beauty isn’t the thing we think of when we think of death. But because of the reason that Charles died, giving the gospel, it’s a beautiful thing.

So they usher me out of the main room of the clinic where they were working on him and took me to a side room where my son Charles was. They were trying to consul him. He was obviously a mess. There’s nothing like having your eleven-year-old crawl up in your lap.

Looking back, I was obviously in shock. I remember Ben and I were talking in terms of transfusions. Because we thought he was going to need blood. We were speaking in terms of him living, and yet in my mind I knew that he wasn’t going to live. But you can’t reconcile those things.

I do remember saying to Charles that we needed to pray that God would do what was best for Daddy. Because I did not realize at that point the condition of Charles brain.

He looked so bad. It was like there was no possible way that he was going to live through this. So I told little Charles that we were going to pray that God would do what was best for Daddy.

I remember saying to him that Daddy would not to live as a vegetable. He’d be so much happier with Jesus. But I didn’t want to tell him I thought Charles was going to die. I did not want to put that on my son.

So we prayed. I’m so thankful for some Cameroonians that were there that stayed with us. They forced us to drink water, to drink pop. They forced the most disgusting tasting chocolate down us. But I think it got us through that day.

They made us eat this huge bar of disgusting chocolate. It was like baking chocolate. Then they came in and said they were taking him to the bigger hospital. I don’t remember who drove us there. I think it was one of the Cameroonian Christians, but I can’t remember.

We got to the hospital. We got out of the car. Nobody needed to tell us where to go because there was a trail of blood for us to follow. We literally followed that trail.

You’re being stared at. Here you are in a third world country. Everybody’s just silent; just standing there staring at you. Of course, I was still literally drenched in blood. I can only imagine what I looked like at that point.

We got back there and they wouldn’t let us in. I said, “Can I see my husband?”

And they said, “No. The doctors are working on him.”

They gave us a bench alongside of the building to sit on outside. Ben came, and we were all sitting there together. We just prayed. We prayed and prayed.

Somewhere in that timeframe I posted a prayer request on Facebook for him.

Nancy: I remember that.

Stephanie: We just prayed. There was nothing else we could do. I kept praying, “God, do what’s best for him.”

You know you have those times when you argue with God. I had a lot of arguments with God in those moments. I remember very clearly thinking that it made no sense to me why God to give us eight children just to take their daddy.

I told little Charles, “We have to cling to the fact that God has promised us that He works all things together for good. Nothing looks good right now, but that’s what God promises, and God is always true.”

We prayed; we waited.

There was a Christian doctor who had been at the first clinic, and he went with Charles to the hospital. He came out and said that the doctors wanted to see us.

I remember I asked, “How’s Charles? Is he going to be okay?” The doctor just said you need to wait and talk to the doctors.

I don’t know how to explain God’s peace. I’ll never be able to explain it. But as we walked into that room, I already knew what the outcome was going to be. I’m not saying I’m omniscient in any way. But God had given me by that point a total peace. Part of me still hoped I was dead wrong.

God had given me a total peace. We walked in. You know, there are certain things you always remember: the smell, the look. It was one of those too sterile of a room, too clean. It smelled too much like chlorine. It was white.

They offered us a chair to sit down. I didn’t want to sit down. The doctors came in. The nurse had her head down. She kept shaking her head. I knew that could only mean one thing.

I said, “How’s my husband?” They proceeded to tell me in medical terms what had happened to Charles’s body.

As they were talking, parting of me was going, “Please stop! My eleven-year-old is sitting here, and I don’t want him hearing this.” But I couldn’t say that.

So I just said, “Is my husband with Jesus.”

Part of me feels guilty because the doctor lowered his head and said, “Yes.” There was almost a relief in my heart. Because my heart broke. But I knew that at that moment my husband was so happy.

Nancy: It just strikes me as I hear you say that, I reflect on many things that were said about Charles at the memorial service a couple of weeks later here in Indiana, that the reason you knew then and I’ve seen you say this so many times on Facebook since, that Charles was happy with Jesus.

Here was a man who had so loved Jesus while he was living. He found his joy and his happiness in walking with Jesus.

Dannah: In fact, Stephanie, here’s your father, Pastor Don Williams, sharing about Charles at that memorial service.

Pastor Don Williams: It was very evident that Charles loved the Lord Jesus and the Word of God with all of his heart, soul, and mind. He was faithful in giving out the gospel everywhere he went.

Nancy: I saw this in this man. I didn’t, of course, know him as well as many others did. He was there to tune a piano, at my house, but he loved talking about the Word and Christ and God’s heart. That was where his affection was. You knew that way better than anybody. For him at that moment to be separated from his body was for him to be with the Lord, which is what he had lived for and longed for, for years.

Stephanie: Yes!

Pastor Williams: And he was willing to hazard his life to spread the gospel in a dangerous place.

Nancy: So I think people who the things of this world make them happy, who live for this life and not for eternity, I don’t have the same assurance for that person when they are gone. Are they really going to be happy being with the Lord if they are not happy to be with Him here?

But you knew that was the trajectory of his life, and yours too. Together as a couple you said, “Our joy is in knowing Christ, serving Him, walking with Him, trusting Him.

So in that moment when you knew he wasn’t here anymore, you had every reason to believe and no reason to doubt that Charles was experiencing what he had always lived for and longed for.

Stephanie: Exactly!

Pastor Williams: Much like James Calvert, a missionary to the Fiji Islands back in 1837, which at that time, these islands were filled with ferocious cannibals. When approaching one of the islands, the captain of the ship said, “Mr. Calvert, if you go to shore, you will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among those savages.”

To which James replied, “Sir, we died before we ever came here.”

This was certainly Charles’s mindset before he ever went to Cameroon.

Stephanie: He had set his affections on things above many, many years before. You always know going to the mission field that there’s always a risk. There’s a risk involved in serving God. That’s just the way it is.

There’s a risk in breathing. There’s a risk in living.

Nancy: Anywhere.

Stephanie: Yes. You could be in Chicago and be in danger.

Nancy: You could be in a rural town in Indiana. It’s a broken, fallen world. As far as whoever shot those shots is concerned, they weren’t aiming for Charles, as far as we know. They had no way of knowing he would be there at that moment.

But somehow there is and was a God in heaven who had a plan for Charles’s life.

Charles whole purpose was he had a life calling. That’s what he called it. He said it was to “motivate godliness in the life of every person with whom he came into contact.” That was his life calling. He fulfilled it. That is how he lived.

Nancy: Both before he went to the mission field and once he got there.

Stephanie: Yes. That was his routine. That was his habit.

So when they announced him dead officially . . . But to know he never felt pain and suffering, that just brought so much comfort to my heart.

The next few days were a blur as we went through paperwork and all of these things. But we began to see God’s fingerprint over everything that had happened in that car that day.

Nancy: There was a lot more journey ahead still for you. You’re in shock; you’re in grief. You have yet to get back to where your other seven children were and tell them the news.

I remember seeing that on the Facebook post—that Charles had been shot, and hearing from some of Charles’s siblings who live in this area.

You still had to go back and tell your children this news. I want to give you a chance to share that story because through the crisis, through the chaos of those days, there was still evidence of God’s presence.

When I go back and read those accounts, you lived it; I just read about it. God was writing a story . . . God is writing a story. He’s not finished with Charles’s life through your life. So I want to pick back up with that tomorrow.

I want to also ask you, going back to Psalm 91 that you quoted there in the car just before those fatal shots were fired, what your thoughts are today about how those promises of God to protect us proved true, even though Charles lost his life to those snipers’ bullets. I’ll give you a chance to share about that when we come back tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Dannah: Wow! We’ve been listening to a conversation Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth had with Stephanie Wesco, about eight months after her husband, Charles, was shot in Cameroon, West Africa.

I don’t know about you, but I marvel at the faith, the courage, modeled by sweet Stephanie. 

Even though the story was way different from anything she expected, she’s trusting God— the divine Scriptwriter— to make the story turn out the way He wants. As Nancy and Robert say it in their book You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, Stephanie's “embracing the mysteries of providence.”

Their book is designed to help you trust God in whatever circumstance you find yourself. And now there’s a brand new discussion guide to go with it. I think it’s coming out next week. Here’s how you can get the book and be the first to get a digital download of the study guide.

Head to ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959. Make a donation of any size. Mention You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, and we’ll thank you for your donation by sending you a copy. We’ll also provide you with a code that will allow you to download the new discussion guide.

So how could Stephanie quote verses about the protection of God and believe they’re true, even when it seems like God did anything but protect Charles from those gunshots in Cameroon? That’s something she and Nancy will discuss tomorrow.

Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to point you our only hope in life . . . and death . . . Christ alone. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

 

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.