The Wycliffe Language Course, a training programme for missionaries, was founded in 1952. Over the years, the vision behind it grew, and the course developed into Wycliffe Bible Translators. Today, Wycliffe Bible Translators has 362 members and employees in 56 countries, impacting the development of translations and Bible use in 314 languages, spoken by a total of 461 million people (2017 member survey).
The very first Wycliffe members from the UK worked with people groups in South America, following the lead of Wycliffe US members. It wasn’t long, however, before UK members started to concentrate more of their efforts on Africa and unreached people groups there. Now, while UK members still maintain a strong focus on Africa, our member base is increasingly spread across more of the world.
Over the years, methods have shifted from British members going and translating the Bible for language communities, to our members coming alongside language communities and working in partnership, assisting mother-tongue speakers to translate the Bible themselves. Our tools and methods have also changed over the years – while paper and pencil are still useful in very early stages for making notes on the sounds that make up a language; laptops, specialist translation software, and high-speed internet that allows for real-time communication over long distances make all the difference in today’s Bible translation projects.
We are a member of the Wycliffe Global Alliance, and partner with organisations worldwide in working towards universal access to the Bible.
The full Bible is now available in close to 700 languages, and the New Testament in an additional 1,500 languages. But with 1.5 billion people still without access to the full Bible in the language that speaks to them best, our vision of universal access is far from a reality, and the need for translation remains as great as ever.