Celebrated annually on 8th March, the campaign theme for International Women’s Day this year is ‘Choose to Challenge’. Challenges often bring change; many women in the mission field have had to overcome immense challenges to bring the Word of God to unreached people groups in their heart language. From defying social and cultural norms to dealing with harsh climates, hostile reception from the locals and lack of practical resources to support the projects, challenges awaited at every turn.
Eunice Pike and Florence Hansen were the first team of single women sent by SIL in the late 1930s. Despite others’ initial reservations and concerns for their safety, the two women set off for the mountains in Mexico with confidence in God and thrived in their work with the Mazatec people. Their efforts and tenacity resulted in the end of gender-segregated camps at Camp Wycliffe. It has been estimated that female Bible translators account for over half of the projects in the Wycliffe family across the world. Rachel Saint was an early woman missionary sent out by Wycliffe to Peru. In 1955, she went to a missionary station in Ecuador, and though not her initial assignment, she began studying the Waorani language. Translating the Word for the Waorani group in Ecuador became her life’s work – her fledging interest grew into passion following the death of her brother, Nate, at the hands of the Waorani. Along with Elisabeth Elliot, wife of missionary Jim Elliot who was killed together with Nate while trying to befriend the Waorani, the two women became the first settlers among the Waorani. It was a breakthrough for missions among one of the most dangerous people groups of the time, and the Gospel of Mark was published in their heart language nine years after the tragedy. One of the killers later became a pastor in the community and subsequently baptized Nate’s children.
These are but a couple stories of women in Bible translation, bringing God’s Word to remote people groups around the world. You can read more about Eunice and Florence here.
Which woman in ministry are you remembering today?