Ending Bible poverty by facilitating the translation of God's Word among minority language communities worldwide.

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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 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 partner for technical support.

To­day, ap­prox­i­mately 100 or­gan­i­za­tions from more than 60 countries form the Wycliffe Global Al­liance. By pro­vid­ing staff, funds, train­ing, trans­la­tion and sup­port ser­vices, Al­liance or­gan­i­za­tions are cur­rently in­volved in al­most 2,000 of the 2,422 lan­guages with ac­tive work.

Wycliffe Global Al­liance or­gan­i­za­tions and per­son­nel have been in­volved in the trans­la­tion of Bibles and New Tes­ta­ments in more than 900 lan­guages. Hundreds of other lan­guages have at least one of the Bible's 66 books or other ini­tial por­tions published. However, the remaining task is enormous. It's estimated that people in more than 1,700 language groups still need God's Word translated into their languages.

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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)