In the summer of 1917 William Cameron Townsend took a break from his college studies to sell Spanish Bibles in Guatemala. As he did so, he quickly realized that the majority of Guatemalans were descendants of the Mayan Indians and didn’t speak or read Spanish. Several Cakchiquel Indians expressed to him their concern that the Scriptures were available in Spanish but not in their language.
Conversations like this and the urging of the Spirit of God convinced Townsend that he needed to learn the Cakchiquel language and translate the New Testament for these people so that they could have it in a language they understood clearly – their own language. He and his wife went to live among the Cakchiquel Indians in Guatemala and began translation work. He also came back to the US periodically to train other Christians in translation principles. Ten years later the Cakchiquel NT was finished and eventually Wycliffe Bible Translators was formed.
In 1999 Wycliffe Bible Translators drafted Vision 2025 under the headship of President Bob Creson. Vision 2025 declares that it is Wycliffe’s desire to see a Bible translation project started in every language still needing one by the year 2025. It was meant to highlight the major need for Bible translation around the world and to help accelerate the rate at which Bible translation was being started.
Since that time Vision 2025 has done just that. A Bible translation project is being started in a language almost every five days. This puts us short of our goal only by about a decade. However everyday more people are learning about Bible translation and getting involved in tangible ways.
Currently of the almost 7,000 languages spoken in the world today, there are approximately 2,000 that still need a translation project started . That is about 340 million people who still need the gospel in a language that communicates the love of Christ to their heart in such a way that brings about transformation.
Wycliffe understands that the task set before them is not one that can be done independently, but requires each of its members to partner with churches and individuals. Wycliffe without the help of partners would be incapable of accomplishing this major task.