Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: BUSY (02/02/17)
- TITLE: Townsend:Getting the Job Done
By Lois Farrow
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Sent to Guatemala as missionaries by the Central American Mission, Cam and his wife Elvira, alongside fellow missionaries with a similar vision, pioneered the work among the Indians. A few Indians had been converted through the Spanish work, but vast numbers were unreached, and Cam knew it was vital that the Scriptures should be translated into the native languages for them to have full understanding.
This was in the 1920s when conditions were primitive and the landscape rugged. Travel was by stubborn mule over difficult terrain. Elvira had poor health, but did what she could in between lengthy recuperation periods back in the States. Cam was a person who believed in getting on with people, and he was characterised by charm and a forgiving and compassionate attitude to those under his leadership. But when he felt a matter of principle was at stake he could dig his toes in. He was a master at bringing others around to his point of view by diplomacy. But at times there was tension between Cam and the field workers on one hand, who knew the local situations, and the board at home who made the decisions.
Cam’s work and vision in Guatemala and the strategies he was learning were the forerunner of his later work when he founded Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT) and the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL). The goal was to have the Bible translated into every language, thus fulfilling Christ’s command to bring the good news to every creature. The training arm of SIL was formed to bring training and support to the translation teams.
The main work of Cam and his local helpers in Guatemala had been to translate the New Testament into the Cakchiquel language. Begun in 1919, and persevering in spite of opposition and constant difficulties, it was a proud day when Cameron was able to present a personalised, leather-bound copy of the New Testament to the President of Guatemala in 1931.
From the beginning of their marriage they were totally devoted to the work of the Lord. Elvira, writing about their honeymoon, mentions that they held meetings in their home in the first week, and went on an eighty-five mile mule back trip from the mountains to the low jungle on the coast in the second week, accompanied by her brother.
Cam and Elvira were also involved in many other aspects of life in Guatemala, including much correspondence with friends, family, and their mission. They wrote frequent reports to the Treasurer of their board, and when they tell of their workload my head spins. Elvira found herself treating sick babies and children with hookworm, in spite of having no medical training. They had constant visitors in their home which had no running water or electricity; they found time for studying, teaching, and learning the new language; had to deal with dishonest civil servants; lived through a violent political coup, earthquakes, and a volcanic eruption in their locality; took many special meetings and Gospel services; took long journeys exploring new territory; and completed the New Testament translation; all the time battling poor health.
William Cameron Townsend: a man of God whose strong faith in God brought him through hardship and suffering to achieve much for God’s kingdom. A man whose character was forged through his upbringing and his trials, a man with a heart for the world to know God.
Taken from: Wycliffe in the Making: The Memoirs of W. Cameron Townsend 1920-1933 by Hugh Steven.
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