Girls laughing

Man reading bible

To see disciples of Jesus from the minority language groups of the world growing through the Scriptures being available to them in their own heart language.

This means helping the almost 2000 Bible translation projects ( 2016 stats ) that the Wycliffe Global Alliance is involved in right now, to finish the job. It also means, in prayer, taking a few risks to see how the church might get started in the estimated 1700-1800 languages that still don’t have even one verse of Scripture that they fully understand.

The primary role of Wycliffe Australia in this vision is to train and support Australian Christians who are willing to live cross-culturally, using their skills and character to give a practical helping hand to local communities undertaking translation projects or to pioneer new ones ready to start.

A helping hand can come in many forms so if you are an Aussie Christian and have a desire to be involved in the Bible translation movement in some way, then we would be delighted to hear from you.



Welcome to Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia. By our name you can easily deduce that Wycliffe is an organisation that is involved in Bible translation. However it is not in the major languages of the world, such as English, or Mandarin, or Spanish, that Wycliffe concentrates its efforts. Rather, Wycliffe Australia, as part of the Wycliffe Global Alliance ( is committed to the minority language communities of the world which often do not yet have an alphabet or basic literacy and education in their mother tongue, or access to the Bible in their heart language.

Today there is more Bible translation going on into the languages of the world than at any time in history. There are communities around the world that because of the work of Wycliffe Australian members will, for the very first time, see their language written down and be able to read for themselves the Word of God in their very own language. Bible translation, linguistics, and cross-cultural living is difficult work with no promises of an easy life, but it is a great movement to be a part of. There are more openings for volunteers and partners than we can fill with translation projects currently in progress and those yet to start. Welcome to the modern day Bible translation movement, enjoy the read, and if you are moved by the cause and the Spirit, I invite you to email us, or phone us so we can continue the conversation.- Barry Borneman, CEO Wycliffe Australia





Wycliffe Australia is made up of ordinary Australians who have the deepest commitment to people of all cultures and to the uncompleted task of Bible translation bringing God’s Word to life while simultaneously serving people’s needs holistically. Wycliffe is about translating the Bible and transforming the world. We’re happiest working behind-the-scenes, yet the results of this life-changing work speak loudly. Wycliffe comes alive when God’s Word comes alive.

Wycliffe Worldwide Facts

2016 stats

  • about 7000 languages spoken in the world
  • estimated 1700-1800 languages needing translation
  • 3223 languages with some or all of the Bible
  • 2422 languages with translation in progress


Wycliffe Australia partners with the Australian Christian Community and other organisations in the global Bible translation movement. Our primary partnerships are with SIL and its entities, national Bible translation organisations and other national partners. Australian Wycliffe members serve in various roles in these organisations.

Wycliffe Australia is a member of Bible Agencies Australia.


SIL Australia is our primary training institution. We also partner with a number of Bible colleges for combined courses, internships, short-term mission trips and more.


All our members are also members of Australian churches who make this work possible through their financial and prayer support.

Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia Board

Chair – Rev Graydon Colville

Vice Chair – Mr Phil Bignall

Secretary – Mr Richard Earley

Treasurer – Mr Tim Wilson

Executive member – Mr Ross Wilkerson

Members – Mr Malcolm Barker, Mrs Ann Eckert, Dr David Grayden, Mr Fai Peng Chen, Mr Titus Phua, Mrs Cindy McGarvie, Rev Geoff Shepherd, Mrs Kathy Snook, Rev Darrell Thatcher, Mr Ross Wilkerson.

The Need

Doesn’t everyone speak English?

It’s easy to forget that English is just one of the thousands of languages spoken in the world today.

There 7097 known living languages in the world. Try this for multi-lingual:

  • Africa 2139
  • Americas 1062
  • Asia 2296
  • Europe 287
  • Pacific 1313

NOTE- some of these areas overlap so the total doesn’t equal the total number of spoken languages.

That’s a lot of languages! Imagine if you were handed a Bible in Swahili, Zulu or a language that you’ve never even heard of. How would you find getting to know God in another language?



We Believe

We believe in the one true God, his Word to us in the Bible, and his concern for the whole world; every person, from every language group.

We Value

The transforming Word of God

  • We facilitate access to, love for, and engagement with the Bible, the Word of God
  • We are committed to the clear, accurate communication of the biblical message
  • We want to see people and communities transformed by the impact of the Scriptures.

Dependence on God

  • We are committed to prayer
  • We exercise faith in our individual and corporate lives
  • We trust God for all that is needed to continue and complete the Bible translation task.

The church

  • We believe in the central role of the church in God’s mission
  • We value the role of the faith community in confirming what God is saying to us
  • We are committed to the worldwide church and the commission to disciple all peoples.

Partnership and service

  • We partner with others in accomplishing mutual goals
  • We are serious about collaboration, teamwork and mutual respect
  • We seek to embody a spirit of service in all we do.

Quality and development

  • We want to be like Christ, believing that the quality of our lives and work is a reflection of him
  • We are committed to lifelong learning, professional development and reflective assessment
  • We embrace change and seek opportunities to creatively live in obedience to God’s mission, utilise and adapt technologies and improve our ways of working.



Through the Bible, God speaks directly to every person. Unless people have the Scriptures in their heart language they cannot fully understand his message of life and hope. This is the case for around two thousand language communities which still don’t have even one Bible verse in their heart language.

Great progress has been made by the baby boomers with Wycliffe members worldwide contributing towards the completion of New Testaments from 1970 to 2000. With baby boomers getting a little older the challenge and the opportunity now lies with the next generation to see Bible translation in progress among every language that needs it.

To achieve this we need many more people to join our team. We hope this will include a good number of Aussies who have a love for Jesus, a heart for justice and who have experienced the power of his Word.

Many churches are being planted through Bible translation. What better tool could be given to a newly-planted church?

Join the team by praying, supporting financially, or serving in the task. Are you up to the challenge?

The Bible has the power to change lives, and is never as easily understood as it is in your own heart language.

25Doesn’t everyone speak English?

It’s easy to forget that not everyone understands English, and out of those who do, many only have a very broken understanding.

There 7097 known living languages in the world. Try this for multi-lingual:

  • Africa 2139
  • Americas 1062
  • Asia 2296
  • Europe 287
  • Pacific 1313

NOTE- some of these areas overlap so the total doesn’t equal the total number of spoken languages.

That’s a lot of people who don’t understand English! Imagine if you were handed a Bible in Swahili, Zulu or a language that you’ve never even heard of. How would you find getting to know God in another language?

Wycliffe Beginnings

The global network that would become the Wycliffe Global Alliance began with a desire to serve the practical needs of Bible translation personnel and linguists working among minority peoples. In the 1940s, most of these personnel were from North America and were working in Central and South America under the auspices of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (now SIL International). As their numbers grew, the need for a “home office” became apparent. This office could handle much-needed accounting services and also help engage people in the United States in prayer and other forms of involvement in Bible translation.

Cameron Townsend and L.L. Legters, the founders of SIL, had, in the 1930s, started a “Camp Wycliffe” (named after John Wycliffe, an early advocate for Bible translation into English) to train linguists and translators. But they had no idea how the name and work would grow and spread. Their original plan had been to train translators who would serve under other established missionary societies. But by the early 1940s, friends of the work strongly recommended the formation of a society specifically focused on Bible translation.

In 1942, Wycliffe Bible Translators Inc. was created. Its headquarters was established in California, in the small garage apartment of Bill Nyman. Nyman, an experienced businessman, served as a volunteer and donated this apartment. All of the funds that came in for the ministry went directly to field locations, with the exception of the five percent that the personnel had agreed were needed for an office secretary’s salary and office supplies. As the translation teams multiplied, the office grew too and eventually moved into larger facilities. Soon, Wycliffe Bible Translators was not only meeting the needs of teams in the field but was also actively promoting the needs and work of Bible translation.

Expanding Beyond the USA

Britain, Australia and Canada

In the early 1950s, SIL began to offer linguistics training courses in England and Australia. These courses, with names like “Wycliffe Institute of Linguistics,” served mission organizations that were eager to access SIL’s knowledge and training. The courses also created interest among prospective missionaries who were attracted to Bible translation as a ministry.

This interest gave rise to the formation of Wycliffe Bible Translators in these countries. Each organization was incorporated within its own country, but in the late 1950s and the 1960s, Wycliffe Bible Translators of Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada were also accepted as “divisions” of the U.S. corporation.


In the early 1960s, the vision for Bible translation in the languages of minority peoples spread throughout Europe, and European churches began sending out a new workforce from Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, followed by the Nordic countries: Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. In the early 1990s as Eastern and Central Europe opened up, still more came. Those who had lived in the former Communist states knew what it was like to be without God’s Word, and they were eager to help others hear the Word in their own languages.


Through the 1980s, Asian countries began to join this worldwide movement for Bible translation. Japan, Singapore and South Korea led the way with others following. By the turn of the century, nine Asian nations were contributing to the worldwide Bible translation movement.

National Field Organizations

During the 1970s and ’80s, a number of national organizations (called at the time “National Bible Translation Organizations”) developed under the guidance of Wycliffe’s partner SIL. These organizations sponsored Bible translation and applied linguistics work in their own countries, and they also engaged with the Church in their countries, serving as advocates for mother-tongue Scripture use and recruiting personnel and prayer support for Bible translation work.

Wycliffe Bible Translators International

Until 1980, the Wycliffe organizations emerging around the world were all called “divisions.” They were subsidiary organizations of Wycliffe Bible Translators Inc. in the United States. Wycliffe Bible Translators Inc. served not only as the representative organization for the U.S. public but also as the umbrella organization for the worldwide family of “divisions.” Wycliffe Bible Translators Inc. was the early face of Wycliffe International.

In 1980, Wycliffe Bible Translators International was incorporated as a separate corporation from Wycliffe Bible Translators Inc. Organizations that had been divisions of Wycliffe Bible Translators Inc. became divisions of Wycliffe Bible Translators International, and Wycliffe Bible Translators Inc. (now also known as Wycliffe USA) went on to focus on its role of relating to the U.S. public.

A New Chapter Dawns for Wycliffe International

The “division” status and structure of Wycliffe organizations served well for some years but eventually became unworkable. Local and national laws increasingly required organizations to be totally nationally controlled, rather than having personnel and funds channeled through an international organization such as Wycliffe Bible Translators International (which eventually became known as Wycliffe International).

In 1991, the decision was made to restructure Wycliffe International. The term “division” became obsolete, and the Wycliffe organizations became self-governing member organizations of Wycliffe International. Wycliffe International would be governed by its member organizations, meaning that each voting member organization was entitled to two votes on matters pertaining to Wycliffe International, irrespective of size or experience.

This restructuring had significant consequences. Member organizations became fully self-governing and responsible to develop and shape their organizations and their policies according to cultural and national concerns. Wycliffe International’s role became one of facilitating, of providing standards and guidelines, of making recommendations, and of giving global direction and support. Wycliffe International would no longer write policies governing the member organizations.

During this same era, the historic structure of Wycliffe International and SIL International’s interconnectedness also began to shift. Through much of their history, they had a shared board, and members of one organization were also members of the other. Today, they are distinct organizations with separate boards. The organizations still share a close and highly valued partnership, but each is also exploring new partnerships with other organizations that work with minority language communities. Each organization is able to make its own unique contribution while also working in unity with its partner organizations. Individual Wycliffe organizations continue to second much of their personnel to SIL, and Wycliffe International and SIL work together on a number of strategies.

In 2008, Wycliffe International began a new journey with a new board, executive director and Global Leadership Team. The new leadership began to look at how God was at work in his Church worldwide and how Wycliffe could best participate in His global mission.

Wycliffe Global Alliance

In February of 2011, Wycliffe International became Wycliffe Global Alliance. The new name represents the organization Wycliffe has become and helps create an environment for increasing partnerships and the participation of God’s Church worldwide so that all may have the opportunity to know Christ through His Word and His people.

– See more at:

History of the Bible

God speaks in all languages. Trace the language heritage of the Bible.

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The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and Aramaic.

The New Testament was written in Koine Greek, the trade language of the first century.

300 – 1300AD

  • Latin began to replace Greek as the common language. Several Latin translations, some pretty inaccurate, leaked into circulation. The Church decided that an official translation was in order.
  • This translation was called the Latin Vulgate (meaning vulgar or common) and became the Bible of the Middle Ages. The Vulgate was built to last, even outlasting its purpose.
  • Centuries passed. People could no longer understand the Church’s liturgy or Scripture reading because Latin was not used in everyday life anymore.
  • Clergy clung to the Vulgate because Latin was the language of the educated, and it forced people to rely on their teaching.

John Wycliffe

John Wyclif (or Wycliffe) believed that the Bible should be for all people, not just the clergy. He was the driving force behind the translation of the first complete Bible into English, using the Latin Vulgate as source text.

Wyclif’s Bibles, and later his bones, were burned, but he had sparked a Reformation.


William Tyndale, a scholar fluent in seven languages, left England to work on the first English translation based on the original Hebrew and Greek. In 1525, smuggled copies of his New Testament began circulating throughout England.

Martin Luther later published about 100,000 copies of his German translation.

Translators across Europe made God’s Word available in every major language.

Missionaries then began to translate into non-European languages.

1629- Matthew’s Gospel in Malay was published.

1662- John Elliot translated the first missionary Bible for America in the language of the Massachusetts Indians.

William Carey (1793 – 1834)

William Carey, an English cobbler, believed that the Bible was the most effective way to advance Christianity, and involved himself in translating Scripture into over 20 Indian languages. In total, he and his team, translated and printed Scripture in 45 languages and dialects in Asia – 35 for the first time.

By 1800 there were 66 languages with some portion of Scripture, 40 with the whole Bible.

1804- Bible societies were formed for the translation, publication and distribution of the Scriptures.

Missionary efforts in the twentieth century have resulted in giant leaps in Bible translation. More translations were done in the last 100 years than in the entire previous history of the Church.


History of Wycliffe Bible Translators

1917- William Cameron Townsend was challenged by a Cakchiquel man: ‘If your God is so great, why doesn’t he speak my language?’

1934- Townsend founded ‘Camp Wycliffe’ as a linguistics training school, which then became the Summer Institute of Linguistics.

1951- The first Wycliffe New Testament translation, by Kenneth Pike and Donald Stark, was completed in the San Miguel Mixtec language of Mexico.

1978- The 100th was completed – in the Amuesha language of Peru.

1985- The 200th was completed – in the Hanga language of Ghana, Africa.

1989- The 300th was completed – the Cotabato Manobo of the Philippines.

1995- The 400th was completed – in the Barai language of PNG.

2000- The 500th New Testament, the Suriname Javanese, was dedicated.

2013- Today Wycliffe is involved in 1530+ language projects reaching over 500 million people.

Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia (WBTA) is committed to ensuring the privacy of any personal information provided to us, according to the Australian Privacy Principles of 12 March 2014.1

Holding of Personal Information

WBTA collects names, contact details and other information for the purpose of processing donations, issuing receipts and providing information to maintain and enhance our relationship with supporters and friends.
After being advised of any change, personal information is updated as soon as possible. To assist us in keeping accurate records please advise us if there are any errors or changes in your details.
You may, if you wish, receive information or donate anonymously, but we will be unable to issue a receipt in such circumstances.
People interested in serving with WBTA provide personal information, which is held for the purpose of determining suitability and options for service. This process may include the sending of information to an overseas entity. All reasonable efforts are made to ensure the recipient will treat this information in a way consistent with Australian Privacy Laws. WBTA will not use or disclose information for any other purpose without gaining the consent of the person concerned unless required by law.

Data Security

Your personal information is kept secure and only used by authorised WBTA staff for the purpose for which it was collected.
Details of our donors or other contacts will not be sold, exchanged or rented to third parties. Any company handling a mailout for WBTA will be required to give an annual written commitment to preserve the confidentiality of the provided information.

Accessing your information

You have the right to see personal information WBTA holds about you subject to exceptions allowed by the law and to advise us of any inaccuracies. Please contact our Privacy Officer at The Privacy Officer will handle any complaints about a perceived breach of the Australian Privacy Principles.

1 Privacy fact Sheet 17 –

Below is a list of organisations that Wycliffe Australia works with to further God’s Kingdom.


SIL Australia

SIL Australia is Wycliffe Australia’s linguistic training partner and offers language development training for cross-cultural workers.

ACMA – Australian Centre for Mission Aviation

The Australian Centre for Mission Aviation is an interdenominational organisation committed to providing top quality mission aviation pilots and engineers for the mission field, working in close association with Wycliffe Australia.


Bethel Funerals

Established by Wycliffe in 1996, Bethel Funerals began as a way to generate funds for missions while ministering to grieving families. To date, Bethel have put back over $2,000,000 to support mission workers and organisations whilst ministering to over 8,000 families. As a not-for-profit company they are also able to actively invest part of their professional services fee back into mission, humanitarian and community work. So when you use Bethel, not only will the funeral service honour your loved one, but they will also be honoured with a legacy that can make a real contribution. There are locations in Melbourne and Brisbane to serve families.


Tree Tops Lodge Cairns

is dedicated to glorify God by providing accommodation facilities with a Christian atmosphere for missionaries and those interested in supporting missions.Tree Tops operates as a fully functioning motel and endeavours to provide a professional, yet caring and supportive atmosphere.


Missions Interlink

is the Australian network for global mission. Missions Interlink exists to connect Australians with a passion for global mission to be more effective in cross-cultural and global mission, and demonstrate unity in Christ. Missions Interlink operate across Australia providing training and networking opportunities, sharing information and resources, facilitating collaboration and high standards of practice, and advocating on behalf of our Members and Associates. Wycliffe Australia is a member of Missions Interlink.