How the vision for Bible translation began
For more than 70 years Wycliffe has helped people around the world translate the Bible into their own languages. They also help with language development, literacy and other spiritual and physical needs.
In 1917 a missionary named William Cameron Townsend went to Guatemala to sell Spanish Bibles. He was shocked when many people couldn’t understand the books. They spoke Cakchiquel, a language without a Bible.
Townsend believed that everyone should understand the Bible, so he started a small linguistics school (the Summer Institute of Linguistics, known as SIL) that trained people to do Bible translation. The work continued to grow, and in 1942 he officially founded Wycliffe Bible Translators.
Over the following decades, Wycliffe celebrated many milestones – from the first translation in 1951, all the way to the 500th translation completed in 2000.
At the same time Wycliffe adopted a new challenge – a goal of starting a Bible translation project in every language still needing one by 2025.
In 1999 the leaders realized that at the speed they were going, it would be at least 2150 before a Bible translation could be started for every language that needed one.
As they thought about the people dying around the world every day without hearing the Good News of the Gospel, they felt God calling them to adopt a new goal for accomplishing this mission.
The leaders were committed that they should do everything they could to see a Bible translation program in progress in every language still needing one in 2025. They initially called this goal ‘Vision 2025’, although they later adopted the words as their mission statement.
Today, up to 1,800 languages are still waiting for a Bible translation to begin and Wycliffe is working faster than ever to reach those languages as soon as possible.
For more information please visit Wycliffe’s excellent website www.wycliffe.org.uk.