Login
Hidden

WHAT'S NEW?

COMING SOON!

TAKE COURAGE (a series of 4 books!)

- FINDING COURAGE IN GOD FOR LIFE

by Michelle J. Simpson

Full of stories and anecdotes, along with biblical truth, this book will be a great source of help and encouragement to many.

 

THE SECOND ACT

- THE REMARKABLE STORY OF MISSIONARY JAMES O. FRASER'S SUCCESSOR

by Stuart Simpson

This is the story about Stuart's close association with one of the most successful missionaries in the modern era, along with 20 key principles and lessons we can learn from Fraser's life and ministry, still applicable today.

FINDING GOD IN CHINESE CHARACTERS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 by Stuart M. Simpson

A unique pack of 25 Chinese characters with bi-lingual explanatory guide.

A great tool for anyone with Chinese friends and in ministry to Chinese!

 

Cameron Townsend

Visionary Catalyst for Tribes and Translations

The day had begun like any other day during the university summer holidays. Cameron Townsend had decided to spendhis free summer days in Central America distributing portions of the Spanish Bible to the Indian tribes of Guatemala, having been influenced by the Student Volunteer Movement that had challenged young people with the call to world evangelisation.

A Life-changing Encounter
However, as Townsend set out to distribute more Spanish Bibles to the Cakchiquel Indians, one of the larger tribes in Central America, something unexpected was about to take place that would change the direction of his life forever. An Indian man walked by and Townsend excitedly presented him with a copy of the Spanish Bible. The man's reaction pieced Townsend to the heart. Looking up and fixing his eyes directly into Townsend's, the man demanded, "Why, if your God is so great, hasn't he learned our language?"

Townsend stood speechless and convicted in heart. Although he had no background in linguistics, Townsend determined that the 200,000 Cakchiquel natives should have a written language and Scripture in their own dialect. It was to take ten demanding years to achieve.

"Don't be a fool," friends remarked when Townsend explained why he was quitting university in order to translate the Word of God for the Cakchiquel Indians. "Those Indians aren't worth what it would take to learn their outlandish language and translate the Bible for them. They can't read anyhow. Let the Indians learn Spanish," they said.

Townsend encountered these same arguments 14 years later, when, after having seen the transformation the Word brought to the Cakchiquels, Townsend dreamed of reaching all other tribes. However, there were other arguments to contend with: "They'll kill you," said one old, experienced missionary. "Those jungle tribes are dying out anyway. They kill each other as well as outsiders with their spears, or bows and arrows. If they don't kill you, malaria will get you, or your canoe will upset in the rapids and you'll be without supplies and a month away from the last jumping-off place. Forget the other tribes, and stay with the Cakchiquels."

But Townsend couldn't forget them and the matter became settled in his heart when God gave him Matthew 18:11-12,

'The Son of Man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? If a man have a hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains and seeketh that which is gone astray?'

Wycliffe Bible Translators and SIL
Townsend was to spend the rest of his life going after the "one lost sheep." As he understood the need to develop a unique work with each tribal and language group, he was also forced to realise that a new agency was required. Translation work was complex and needed a great deal of specialisation and support. He maintained that 'The greatest missionary is the Bible in the Mother tongue. It never needs a furlough, is never considered a foreigner.' Through Townsend's leadership and drive, Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT) and the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) were formed, the former in memory of John Wycliffe, the Englishman who first gave the whole Bible to the English speaking people.

With his wife, Elvira, Townsend settled among the Cakchiquel Indians of Guatemala and set about learning the unwritten language. Using the alphabet of the national language, Spanish, as much as possible, Townsend devised an alphabet for the Cakchiquel language and developed a special technique for teaching the people to read. A small printing press was formed in order to publish the teaching methods and in order to teach reading, he instituted literacy campaigns for both adults and children. Townsend also founded several schools, was instrumental in setting up a small medical clinic and a coffee cooperative,helped construct small dams for irrigation, and introduced improved seed and farming methods. With the help of some able Cakchiquel co-translators, Townsend laboriously translated the New Testament into the Cakchiquel language.

News of his work among the Cakchiquel Indians and the positive impact on their culture reached the ears of an outstanding professor in Mexico, who invited Townsend to start a similar work in his own country. Due to the pressures of work in Guatemala, Townsend declined but after a forced return to California with tuberculosis, plans were set in place for further work in Latin America.

Expanding the Workforce
Despite the Great Depression in the United States, Townsend dared to start a training school, called Camp Wycliffe,to recruit and prepare young men and women to work with him. The first schoolin the summer of 1934 hadthree students, the following year had five and the same year a new work began in Mexico.

The President of Mexico learned that the Townsends were living in an impoverished Aztec village and visited them there. He invited Townsend to bring all the personnel he could recruit to study the unwritten languages of Mexico and to teach the people. With this encouragement, more people from the United States were recruited and students were sent to a number of isolated villages in Mexico to begin learning their unwritten languages.

By 1944, SIL's work in Mexico was well underway with trained personnel but in the same year, Townsend's wife died from illness. In 1946, Townsend married Elaine Mielke and at the invitation of the government of Peru, he led a group of twenty young SIL linguists to begin a workamong 40 indigenous groups scattered over thousands of miles of Amazon jungle. This work still continues today through a specialised school set up by the government at Townsend's suggestion.

The work of Townsend's SIL linguists,studying several hundred previously unwritten languages, soon gained the attentionof sectors ofthe academic world in many countries. In time, many universities started their own SIL courses. By the end of the twentieth century, some 40,000 students representing many countries and organisations had received linguistic training through SIL courses.

A Dream to be Completed
Following 13 years with the Cakchiquel and17 years in Peru, Townsend spent a further 5 years pioneering a work in Colombia, before returning to the United States at the age of 72. Even from here, after 50 years of fruitful ministry, he was still exploring exciting opportunities of translating in the Caucasus, one of the most linguistically and culturally diverse regions on earth. Along with his wife, Townsend made eleven trips to the then-USSR from their home in North Carolina. Although unable to see this dream fulfilled before his death in 1982 aged 86, younger translators within WBT are now taking advantage of the newly opened doors in these post-Soviet states, and are working to accomplish it.

From their small beginnings some 70 years ago, Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics have seen more than 600 translations completed, each for a different tribe or language group, representing greater than 77 million people. Today, Wycliffe consists of more than 6,000 personnel working in partnership with expatriates and nationals worldwide.

"After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, TRIBES, peoples, and TONGUES, standing before the throne and before the Lamb...crying out with a loud voice, saying, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'" (Revelation 7:9-10)

Sources
Tribes, Tongues and Translators, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. Adapted from Who Brought the Word, Wycliffe, 1963.
wycliffe.org
sil.org