Townsend, Wycliffe and SIL

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. Neither did they have a written form of their own beautiful language -- Cakchiquel. Townsend stopped trying to sell Bibles and instead, began living among the Cakchiquels. He learned their language, created an alphabet for it, analysed the grammar and translated the New Testament in just ten years.

From that experience, Townsend resolved that every man, woman and child should be able to read God’s Word in their own language. Borrowing the name of the Reformation hero, John Wycliffe, who first translated the Bible into English, Townsend founded "Camp Wycliffe" in 1934 as a linguistics training school. The following year, after a training session with five men in attendance, Townsend took the five to Mexico to begin translation work there. By 1942, "Camp Wycliffe" had grown into two affiliate organisations, Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL).

Today, SIL and Wycliffe Bible Translators work as partner organizations commited to serving communities through linguistic training, translation and promotion. More than 600 translations have been completed, and hundreds more are in the process. With God’s provision, Townsend’s vision will be realised.