John Bendor-Samuel, 1929-2011
It is with sadness that we report the news that Dr. John Bendor-Samuel, Director-Emeritus of Wycliffe Bible Translators in the UK, died following a road traffic accident close to his home on January 6.
John was born in June 1929 and brought up in a Christian family. He was converted to Christ as a child around the age of five. He went on to study history at Oxford and served for a period as the secretary of the Oxford Christian Union, OICCU.
Together with his brother David, John was largely responsible for the establishment of Wycliffe Bible Translators in the UK. He and his wife Pam served in Peru and Brazil in the 1950s, and subsequently John pioneered the cause of Bible translation across Africa, where he was responsible for encouraging Bible translation in many countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Ethiopia.
From the mid-1980s, John served in a number of international leadership roles, first with SIL International and secondly with Wycliffe Bible Translators International. During the 1990s, John was elected to serve as executive director of Wycliffe UK, a role which he held for seven years. At the time of his death, John was engaged in research into the history of Bible translation in Africa. John was widely respected both as a statesman in the world mission movement and as an expert in West African linguistics. He co-founded the Forum of Bible Agencies and was a regular speaker and lecturer in the UK and around the world. For many years, he served on the board of the Linguistic Society of West Africa and was editor of the Journal of West African Linguistics.
Roger Welch, Board Chair, Wycliffe Bible Translators International, commented: ‘John’s vision to see the Bible translated into vernacular languages inspired people all round the world to become engaged in the work of Bible translation, but above all, he was, quite simply, one of the finest Christian men I have ever known’.
John is survived by his wife Pam, and their five children and 15 grandchildren.