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Bob and Dora Wesche

Bob (1935–2022), Dora (1931–2019)
"Our goal is to be where Jesus is, to experience heaven."
By David Adams, Writing Intern, updated January 2023

Retired missionary Bob Wesche liked to ask his three grandsons a simple question, “Where is heaven?” But he gave them a catch: “You can only answer in one word.” The boys were usually stumped.

“Jesus. Heaven is where Jesus is,” Bob responded, quoting John 14 where Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

Bob and Dora Wesche devoted nearly four decades of their lives as missionaries with World Gospel Mission to showing others the way to Jesus with one objective in mind: “Our goal is to be where Jesus is, to experience heaven.”

Born on February 25, 1935, in Tientsin, China, Bob’s parents were Kenneth and Agnes Wesche, one of WGM’s earliest missionary families. His uncle, Dr. Henry Wesche, who also served in China, was the first WGM medical missionary, and Bob desired to follow in his footsteps. Bob became a Christian when he was seven at a church in Kentucky, and he surrendered his life completely to God when he was in high school. In college, he studied medicine to become a surgeon.

Dora was born on April 1, 1931, in South Carolina. Throughout her childhood, Dora’s parents struggled with alcoholism, and the family was very poor. She can remember having to go hungry when there wasn’t enough to eat, and she feared being abused by family members. She left home at age 16 after graduating early from high school. She moved to Georgia, and while there she attended a holiness camp meeting and received Jesus as her Savior. Dora also married a young serviceman she met that year, but the marriage lasted only a matter of months.

She enrolled at Chicago Evangelistic Institute when she was eighteen to study the Bible, and in college she received her own call to missions. But in her senior year, Dora fell away from God. She left before graduating and stopped professing to be a Christian. Still, Dora returned to CEI in 1956 and graduated, even as her spiritual life fluctuated. In the spring of 1959, Dora went through a crisis of faith, and which she heard God’s voice. From that time on, she received a “new spirit” and a desire to walk with the Lord.

A few months later, Bob and Dora met through mutual friends and corresponded for a year. Although Dora was apprehensive at the idea of remarriage, she remembered God’s words to her that she could be married again and that her burden had been “rolled away.”

Bob and Dora were married in 1960 and applied to WGM in 1965. Bob felt called to work in the medical field in Kenya, and they began serving at Tenwek Hospital. But medical problems that had plagued Dora for over a decade resurfaced in 1970, forcing the couple to take a hiatus. Over the next ten years, Dora’s health prevented her from travelling, but Bob was able to take short-term trips to Liberia, the Congo, and Zimbabwe.

In 1983, the Wesches became associate missionaries, enabling them to resume their ministry at Tenwek as Dora’s health improved. At the time, Bob was one of only a handful of surgeons at the hospital and one of few in all Africa. Throughout his career, Bob performed vital surgeries that saved many lives, but physical operations were only part of his work.

“I treat, Jesus heals,” Bob said, echoing Tenwek’s motto. Bob shared the gospel with his patients, many of whom had no opportunity to hear it otherwise.

While Bob served at the hospital, Dora started Bible studies for women, visited women and children who were struggling with broken families, and invited them into her home. According to Bob, Dora identified with the Kenyan people better than he ever could, partly because the difficulties of her own childhood were similar to those many Kenyan people faced.

Bob and Dora retired from full-time mission work in 1998 after sixteen years in Kenya, but they returned nine times in retirement to continue their work. Dora enjoyed reconnecting with the women to whom she had ministered, while Bob mentored physicians in training through Tenwek’s educational programs. Dora passed away on December 17, 2019, and Bob passed away on December 30. 2022.

Their legacy demonstrates God’s faithfulness even through times when it was difficult for Bob and Dora to see God’s presence in their lives. “God loves us and renews, restores, revives, and forgives,” Bob said. “Our goal is to make the kingdom, to help people make the transition from death into life.”

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