History of the Wycliffe World Day of Prayer

Wycliffe’s World Day of Prayer is a global celebration of:

Thanks­giv­ing— as we re­mem­ber who God is and how He has done the seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble…again and again.

Joy— as we rec­og­nize how God con­tin­ues to open doors and hearts to ac­com­plish His mission.

De­pen­dence— as we ac­knowl­edge that all that we have and are is be­cause of God.

God is sov­er­eign and almighty, yet He has in­vited us to par­tic­i­pate with Him in his mis­sion. Prayer is an es­sen­tial facet of that par­tic­i­pa­tion and keeps us rooted in our re­la­tion­ship with Him.

There is a long tra­di­tion of Wycliffe staff, col­leagues and lo­cal churches pray­ing to­gether on be­half of Bible trans­la­tion. Every day, around the world, peo­ple are pray­ing for the Bible trans­la­tion move­ments, for the im­pact of God’s Word on in­di­vid­u­als and com­mu­ni­ties, and for lan­guage com­mu­ni­ties who don’t yet have His Word. But one day a year, No­vem­ber 11, we make a spe­cial ef­fort to come to­gether in prayer, united in hearts and minds in all our di­verse con­texts and locations.

Why November 11?

On No­vem­ber 11, 1933, Wycliffe founders, Cameron Townsend and L.L. Legters, crossed the bor­der from the U.S. into Mex­ico be­cause God an­swered prayer. It was a ma­jor step for­ward for Bible trans­la­tion and also the be­gin­ning of what even­tu­ally be­came Wycliffe (now more than 100 Wycliffe Global Al­liance or­ga­ni­za­tions) and close part­ner or­ga­ni­za­tion, SIL.

The Journey—

  • Townsend’s vision for Bible translation had continued to grow as he lived with and learned from the Kaqchikel people of Guatemala. They completed a translation of the New Testament in 1931.
  • While working on a Kaqchikel literacy plan, Townsend met Dr. Moisés Sáenz, an educator from Mexico. Townsend shared his philosophy of education with Dr. Sáenz. He shared his vision of language communities transformed by God through His Word in their language. He shared his desire to see people learning to read in their own language, teaching each other and valuing their language and heritage, confident to “stand on their own feet”. Sáenz was impressed by Townsend’s vision and wrote a letter inviting him to start work in Mexico.
  • In 1933, while recuperating from tuberculosis, Townsend received a visit from his enthusiastic colleague,  L.L. Legters. Legters had recently travelled to Mexico and noted, “There are at least fifty Indian tribes without the Bible, and some are large.”
  • The participants of the August 1933 Keswick Bible Conference in New Jersey prayed for the Indians in Mexico because new foreign missionaries were not allowed in and those working there were severely restricted. After praying, the group thought Legters and Townsend should go to Mexico to get permission for Bible translation work among the Indians.
  • So Townsend and Legters went to Mexico. At the border, the guards refused them entrance. Townsend and Legters prayed. Then Townsend remembered the letter from Sáenz and gave it to the guards. Recognizing the author of the letter, a renowned and respected educator in Mexico, they called Mexico City for orders.
  • Legters and Townsend prayed, sang and prayed again while waiting for an answer. Finally it came. Yes, they could enter Mexico.

No­vem­ber 11—Wycliffe’s World Day of Prayer—a good day to re­mem­ber how God has ac­knowl­edged the prayers of His peo­ple and a good day to cel­e­brate Him to­gether as we con­tinue in prayer.

Wycliffe World Day of Prayer – 11 November 2020

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