William Svelmoe, A New Vision for Missions: William Cameron Townsend, the Wycliffe Bible Translators, and the Culture of Early Evangelical Faith Missions, 1896-1945 (University of Alabama Press, 2008)

Big dreams start small. In 1934, two seminarians traveled to Sulphur Springs, Alabama, to be trained as Bible translators at the first Camp Wycliffe. The camp was primitive—the men made their own furniture—and its founder and primary teacher, Cameron Townsend, was not a trained linguist. But Townsend was a visionary. He wanted to translate the Bible into South America's unstudied native languages. The camp helped him realize his dream. Since 1934, Camp Wycliffe and its daughter organization, SIL International, have trained between 30,000 and 40,000 linguists, and SIL's evangelistic arm, Wycliffe Bible Translators, boasts the world's largest missionary force.

Turning dreams into reality demands faith, tenacity, and often obstinacy. As William Svelmoe shows in his book A New Vision for Missions, Townsend had them all. The book recounts Townsend's transformation from a one-year missionary to the founder of a new organization committed to sharing the gospel with some of the world's most marginalized people. When Townsend went to Guatemala in 1917 for a one-year stint as a Bible salesman under the auspices of the Central American Mission (CAM), he discovered that American missionaries largely ignored the Indian population. Language was one impediment. Many Indians spoke little Spanish, and Americans had not studied their native languages. Townsend began translating the Bible into Cakchiquel. He also lobbied CAM for greater attention to Indians. A vision was born—yet the dream also brought conflict. Eventually, Townsend ...

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