A text message from his wife nearly knocked Cody Custer out of his comfortable office chair at the manufacturing giant John Deere and launched their missionary adventure with TWR.
Unlike Chelesse, the girl he dated in high school and then married, Cody didn’t come from a church background and set his sights on career and material advancements. After the growing Custer family moved to Bettendorf, Iowa, an acquaintance invited them to church, where Cody’s heart was not only moved by the gospel for the first time but also drawn to missions.
Several mission trips to places like a Navajo reservation, Honduras and Haiti convinced Cody that God was calling him to this kind of work full time. Chelesse, though, wasn’t sure her mom responsibility to provide a safe, nurturing home for their four daughters could square with the stereotype of missionaries living in the jungle with limited access to food, clean water and electricity.
But God was working to soften her heart, Chelesse said, and then Cody shared with her the reassuring feedback he had received from a TWR missionary regarding life on the mission field. He first heard about the international media ministry from a Moody Radio campaign helping to fund TWR’s Oasis transmitter in West Africa. Cody visited the TWR website, discovered that missionaries were needed who had the mechanical and technical skills he had been gifted with, and got in touch with the ministry’s Human Resources team.
Ready to Move Forward
That made the difference for Chelesse. She mustered her courage one day and sent Cody a text at work saying, “I think I am ready to take a step towards crazy faith” – the kind of faith that places every concern and need in God’s hands even if other people dismiss it as foolish.
The next day, in a wave of company cutbacks, Cody was offered a voluntary separation package, but a deadline was set for his decision. The Custers saw this as a test of their obedience to God’s call.
“We quickly applied with TWR and patiently waited to hear if we would be accepted,” Chelesse said. “The [deadline] had come, and Cody had to make a decision without knowing if we had been accepted by TWR. He scheduled a meeting with his boss to let her know he was going to take the separation and pursue missions full time. Twenty minutes after the meeting ended, he received a call from TWR saying we had been accepted as missionaries.”
Today the Custers are about halfway through the faith-stretching process of building a team of individuals and churches that will provide the essential financial and prayer support as they travel to and serve in their mission posting: Guam, the home from which powerful shortwave station KTWR beams gospel programs to countries such as North Korea, China, Taiwan and India.
As facilities manager, Cody will supervise daily maintenance and repair of KTWR’s 20-acre site, Station Manager Mitch Becker said. He will oversee planning, development and execution of improvement projects, prepare the facilities to withstand storms and fulfill a host of other duties.
“Cody’s management capabilities, practical, hands-on mechanical experience, and willingness to take on any task make him a perfect fit for this role, and we look forward to him joining our team,” Becker said.
Building a Team During the Pandemic
The Custers acknowledge that the coronavirus pandemic has made the support-raising process even more challenging than usual. Both prefer getting to know prospective supporters in person and presenting their missionary calling, but like so many others, they’ve quickly adapted to the necessary virtual interactions.
“We are learning to get out of the way and let the Lord work through us,” Cody said. “We have to humble ourselves and remember that God is the one moving the mountain and we aren’t! The most encouraging part of all of this is sharing how God transforms lives. We were both once lost and since have been found. We want to share with as many people as we can that they, too, can have that good news that Jesus Christ has to offer!”
Virtual communication is a real boon for the Custer daughters – Cecilya, 14, Chamberlyn, 11, Cora, 6, and Camrie, 4. They’ve already made the transition to home schooling, and they’re coping with the excitement of a whole new life on the other side of the world by Googling street views of Guam and interacting online with missionary kids on the island.
Young Cora may have the best answer of all when someone asks why the family is moving so far away. “To tell people about Jesus!” she replies enthusiastically.
WILL YOU JOIN THE TEAM?
May we ask you to pray and consider joining the support team that will be standing behind Cody, Chelesse and their four daughters as they help proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth? Get to know them even better by watching short videos and reading their newsletters at twr.org/custer.