As Wycliffe in the UK move out of our long-term home at the Wycliffe Centre, we’ve been thinking about some of the people who placed the founding stones of our organisation. For years, we’ve been remembering them by the buildings that we’ve named after them.
Pike earns his PhD
When Kenneth Pike graduated from his studies in Theology, his heart’s desire was to be a missionary to China. He had been inspired by a biography on Hudson Taylor and, on Christmas day 1933, send his application. He was turned down. The beginnings of a great career for God!
After this rejection, Pike didn’t give up. In the summer of 1935, he hitchhiked more than 1,400 miles across the east of the US to get to the second Wycliffe summer camp being run by William Cameron Townsend. The five students on the course travelled with Townsend to Mexico, and that autumn, Pike first visited a Mixtec village. It was a people group that he and his wife would come to know very well.
Kenneth and Evelyn lived with the Mixtec people for many years, developing a writing system and helping them to translated the New Testament into their language. When it was completed in 1951, it was the first New Testament ever completed with the help of Wycliffe Bible Translators.*
But perhaps the most remarkable thing about Pike was that, alongside his missionary life, he served as a highly respected academic. He used the research he did among the Mixtec people to complete a PhD in Linguistics, he served as president of SIL, Wycliffe’s linguistic partner, for 36 years. He also worked at the University of Michigan for 30 years, later becoming Professor Emeritus of the University. He received 16 nominations for the Nobel Prize, three for the Templeton Prize, 10 honorary doctorates, published 30 books and 200 scholarly articles.
So was he a missionary or an academic? ‘I am a mule,’ he said. Part horse, part donkey. Part linguist, part mission worker. His work not only had a significant impact on the academic study of linguistics and language, and established SIL as a significant linguistic and academic organisation, but it also helped the Mixtec people to have the Bible in their own language.
As we look back to our heritage, we also consider that still to do: more than 200 million people don’t have the Bible in a language they understand. In fact, they don’t even have one verse. Help them to have God’s word.
*God has used Wycliffe to help with another 830 since then!