The History of Wycliffe

A look at how our vision for Bible translation began.

Who We Are

For more than 70 years, Wycliffe has helped people around the world translate the Bible into their own languages. We also help with language development, literacy and other spiritual and physical needs.

How We Started

In 1917 a missionary named William Cameron Townsend went to Guatemala to sell Spanish Bibles. But he was shocked when many people couldn’t understand the books. They spoke Cakchiquel, a language without a Bible. Cam believed everyone should understand the Bible, so he started a small linguistics school that trained people to do Bible translation. The work continued to grow, and in 1942 Cam officially founded Wycliffe Bible Translators.

A History of Bible Translation

Vision 2025

In 1999, our leaders realized that at the speed we were going, it would be at least 2150 before a Bible translation could be started for every language that needed one.

As they thought about the people dying around the world every day without hearing the Good News of the gospel, they felt God calling them to adopt a new goal for accomplishing this mission.

Our leaders committed that we would do everything we could to see a Bible translation program in progress in every language still needing one by 2025. We initially called this goal “Vision 2025,” although we later adopted the words as our mission statement.

Today, around 1,900 languages are still waiting for a Bible translation to begin, and Wycliffe is working faster than ever to reach those languages as soon as possible.