Heroes of the faith
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” | Proverbs 19:21
As a young California farm boy, Cameron Townsend had aspirations of becoming a schoolteacher. By the time he graduated high school, however, he had his heart set on becoming a preacher instead. Little did he know that God would use both of these passions to reach hundreds of thousands of people around the globe with the Gospel message.
“If your God is so great, why can’t he speak my language?”
Through his involvement with the Student Volunteer Movement at college, Cam spent a summer in Guatemala as a Bible salesman. Being a new Spanish-speaker and trying for months to communicate with the local villagers, most of whom only spoke their native language, Cam had all but decided to give up and go home. That is until one question stopped him in his tracks. As he spoke through a translator about the greatness of God to a few Cakchiquel Indians, one man indignantly asked, “Do you have one in Cakchiquel?” When Cam told him there were none, the man replied, “Well, if your God is so great, why can’t he speak my language?”
“If we will do the possible, God will do the impossible.”
This question haunted Cam. Weeks later, when a friend asked him to stay and start a school to teach the Indians to read and write in their own language, he knew it needed to be done, but the enormity of it was overwhelming. He still had not completed college, he had never taken even one class in linguistics, and Cakchiquel was the strangest language he had ever heard! It seemed like an impossible task! The more he thought about it, though, the more he felt the steady reminder that nothing is impossible with God.
“I don’t see how we can fail if we trust God and follow His leadership.”
Cam spent the next 10 years with the Cakchiquel, learning their language, teaching them to read and write, all while working to translate the New Testament into their language and improve their standard of living. When he heard there were thousands more tribes without a written language or access to the Gospel, Cam started a linguistics school for missionaries. In the following years, God took what started with 2 students in 1934 and grew it into a global ministry that is still going strong. Today, more than 1,500 languages have access to the New Testament in their own language with over 2,100 more projects currently in progress, all thanks to a farm boy with a passion for reaching the lost, who followed God’s lead wholeheartedly.