History

It all began in Guatamela

It was 1917 when a young American named Cameron Townsend arrived there to distribute Spanish Bibles among the Cakchiquel people. But he quickly discovered that most of them did not speak or understand Spanish. Nor did they have a written form of their own language.

Townsend abandoned his attempts to sell Spanish Bibles and began living among the Cakchiquels. He learned their complex language, created an alphabet for it, analyzed the grammar, and translated the New Testament in the remarkably short span of 10 years.

Over time, Townsend came to the conclusion that every man, woman
and child should have access to God’s Word in their language.

He had no idea that 7,000-plus languages are spoken around the globe.

 

But that knowledge wouldn’t have deterred Cameron Townsend. With other like-minded colleagues, he founded “Camp Wycliffe” in 1934 as a linguistics training school. He borrowed the name Wycliffe from the pre-Reformation hero, John Wycliffe, who first translated the Bible into English.

By 1942, Camp Wycliffe had expanded to form two organizations, Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics (now SIL International). The subsequent need for support services later led to the founding of JAARS, Wycliffe’s technical arm.

Today, SIL and Wycliffe partner with national Bible translation organizations and church denominations worldwide to translate God’s Word, encourage literacy and promote the use of translated Scriptures.

While tremendous progress has been made over the past 70 years, it’s estimated that 160 million people, in more than 1,700 language groups, still need the life-transforming Scriptures in their language.

You can help end Bible
poverty — and help open God’s Word for people around the globe.