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Bible Translation, History, Language Development, Scripture Engagement

Celebrate Bible Translation Day!

Sep 29, 2023
Cutting the ribbon at the celebration of the first official Bible Translation Day

For many years, Wycliffe and our partners have set aside September 30 to honor the work of Bible translation.

It started back in 1966, when Wycliffe founder William Cameron Townsend first shared an idea with Oklahoma Senator Fred Harris, his friend of several years.

Harris liked the idea and agreed to propose the resolution in the Senate. And on Sept. 30, 1966, a ceremony was held to celebrate the proposed resolution. Since the Apache New Testament had only recently been completed, Cam decided they should present that translation as part of the ceremony. Senator Harris presided, and Cam arranged for Britton Goode, the Apache who had helped the translators, to present the Scriptures to him and Congressman Ben Reifel. As a Sioux member from South Dakota, Reifel had witnessed firsthand the impact of owning the Bible in your own language: his mother spoke only broken English and used the Sioux Bible to teach her children about God.

Several people gave speeches that day, including both Senator Harris and Congressman Reifel. Cam’s speech left the group in attendance encouraged and inspired.

Cameron Townsend speaking at the first official Bible Translation Day
William Cameron Townsend speaks at Bible Translation Day.

“We are making history. By God’s grace and with His help, we are taking part in a tremendous enterprise,” said Cam as he began his speech. “The enterprise is Bible translation; the goal is hearts changed by God and disciples equipped to lead others to Christ. But before any translation can be done, before any change comes in a heart, we must overcome physical and language barriers.

“The language barrier is difficult to overcome. But it must be done. The Holy Spirit, speaking through John says, ‘After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb’ (Revelation 7:9, NIV). We believe God has called us to help make this verse come true.

“It takes hard work, dedication, perseverance, and commitment. Teachers at Wycliffe’s schools have helped thousands of students learn translation and literacy principles, but we lack people who are willing to go. Many don’t realize how Bible translation is still needed around the world.”

Although the Senate never officially passed the resolution, the United Nations passed International Translation Day in 2017 in honor of the role of language professionals in connecting nations and fostering peace, understanding and development.

Today Wycliffe and like-minded partners continue to carry on the tradition of celebrating Bible Translation Day as a way of commemorating all that God has — and continues to do — through translated Scripture around the world. Lives are changed when people have access to God’s Word, bringing value and worth to their communities and languages as they understand His heart for them to encounter Him personally. We are privileged to be a catalyst in this global Bible translation movement, collaborating with hundreds of partners around the world so that more people can have access to Scripture in a language and format they clearly understand!

You can be part of bringing the hope of God's Word to those around the world still waiting for it in their language!

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