A New Vision for Missions: William Cameron Townsend, the Wycliffe Bible Translators, and the Culture of Early Evangelical Faith Missions, 1896-1945

By William Lawrence Svelmoe | Go to book overview

7
In Which Townsend Mixes Science
with Faith, Writes an Audacious Letter,
and Recruits a Few Geniuses along
with More Than a Few Girls
1933–1945

Our experience in Mexico the past 10 years shows us that “aggressive advance
in missions” is absolutely possible and we have followed scientific methods
plus faith. I guess that it wasn't necessary to add those last two words, for
faith is the most scientific thing there is.

—William Cameron Townsend

The winter of 1932 found the Townsends living in a small three- room house near Cameron's family in Santa Ana, California. Townsend's father dropped by regularly to make lunch, because Elvira had been ordered to bed with a heart “in rather bad condition.” Townsend, not particularly healthy himself, was forced to be both housekeeper and nurse. He continued scheming, even as he chafed at the enforced inactivity. He worked on his idea for a cruise tour to Guatemala that would combine the study of missions with inspirational Bible studies by John Brown and Charles Fuller, both influential radio preachers. Both Brown and Fuller promised to promote the plan on their radio broadcasts, and Townsend thought he could sign up twenty- five “tourists” for an eighteento twenty- day trip in February 1933. As with many Townsend schemes, this one fell through for lack of anyone beside himself “to push it.” But that was only one of several irons in the fire. He continued to avidly plan for his air crusade to the “wild tribes” of South America. “If funds were available next Spring I wish that we might visit some of the countries where these wild Indians exist and are yet unreached,” he suggested to Hummel. “Gov“ernment” officials could be approached and if their reaction were favorable to the project, then the lay of the

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