Linking the Canadian Church with the world's minority language groups, to see community transformation through Bible translation, use of translated Scriptures, mother-tongue literacy and education.

About Us

History of Wycliffe Bible Translators

When young Cameron Townsend tried to sell Spanish Bibles in Guatemala in l9l7-l8, he discovered that the majority of the people he met did not understand Spanish. Nor did they have a written form of their own beautiful language, Cakchiquel.

Townsend abandoned his attempts to sell 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.

Convinced that every man, woman and child should be able to read God's Word in their own language, Townsend and like-minded colleagues 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, as well as the supporting lay organization, Wycliffe Associates.

Today, SIL International and Wycliffe Bible Translators partner with national Bible translation organizations worldwide to translate Scripture, train field personnel in linguistics and promote interest in translation. Personnel from Wycliffe have been involved in about 900 New Testament or Bible translations and more than 2,000 translation programs are in progress. However, the remaining task is enormous. It's estimated that people in nearly 1,800 language groups still need God's Word translated into their languages.

Your skills are needed!

Passages Booklet and Timeline

Today’s vibrant Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada had its roots in small beginnings. Learn more about our history at the Timeline blog post or the Passages booklet.

View Timeline or Download PDF (2.4mb)