Be informed. Be challenged. Be inspired.


DAVID ADAMS reports…

It was in 2001 that then school teacher Andrew Carnell first heard there were 2,000 languages spoken around the world into which, as yet, any of the Bible had been translated.

“I heard that statistic and it was really like ‘Well, what am I going to do about that?’,” recalls the 31-year-old Queenslander. “Before that moment I was totally ignorant of the fact that there were 2,000 people groups, language groups – the equivalent of 350 million people…who didn’t have Scriptures.”

NOT YET FOOTSORE: (left to right) Andrew Carnell, Andrew Sav and Dave Carnell. PICTURE: Trent Rouillon

“I just see it as a tragedy that 2000 years after Jesus spoke these words and died on the Cross and rose again, that there are still 2000 languages (spoken by people) who don’t have any clue or don’t have any idea of that. So that was the real driving force for me personally.”

– Andrew Carnell

The statistic has since changed his life, awakening and stoking within him a passion for world mission. Not only did it help to lead him into his current job as the state director for OM (Operation Mobilisation) in Queensland, it’s also leading him and two friends to walk 2,000 kilometres from Cairns to the New South Wales-Queensland border town of Stanthorpe in a bid to raise awareness about the need for new Bible translations. 

Together with his second cousin Dave Carnell – a 24-year-old phys-ed teacher who has trekked through Nepal with OM, and Andrew Sav – a 48-year-old former sign writer who has previously spent three years working as a linguist in the Sahara Desert in Mali, Andrew will head off on the walk this August.

“I just see it as a tragedy that 2,000 years after Jesus spoke these words and died on the Cross and rose again, that there are still 2,000 languages (spoken by people) who don’t have any clue or don’t have any idea of that,” he says. “So that was the real driving force for me personally. It’s a massive task but this is a small thing that I can do to advocate for these people.”

The idea for the walk was something ‘Sav’ first raised with Andrew around three years ago. Mr Carnell says his initial response was not positive.

“He came up with the idea and when he first shared it with me, I told him he was crazy but we kept chatting about it and I thought ‘Well, it could possibly work’ and it’s really developed from there.” 

The trip will see the three men walk the 2,000 kilometre distance over 81 days. With 15 days designated for rest, it means they’ll be walking an average of 30 kilometres each day of walking. While Sav, the only married member of the team (he has four children), intends on walking the entire distance, the other two men will share the task of driving the support car and organising the logistics as well as walking.

“The primary goal is actually to raise awareness,” Andrew Carnell says. “As we speak in churches…we find that people are just so unaware that there are still 2,000 languages that still need Scriptures. And so primarily our goal – through media, social media and the actual walk project where we’ll be speaking in churches – (is that) we just want people to know.”

The team are also hoping this awareness will lead people to start praying for some of the groups and to give finances toward specific Bible translation projects that will be jointly or individually run by the two organisations backing the project – OM and Wycliffe. They’ll also be advertising courses for people who want to get more involved in mission whether for the short or longer term.

Like the other two men, Andrew Carnell – who now lives in Brisbane – grew up in Stanthorpe – the ultimate destination of their walk. 

While Andrew says he was raised in a Christian family, when he left for boarding school at the age of 15, he says he tried to leave his faith behind him.

“In those years, I was quite happy to leave Christianity…Being a Christian wasn’t a very easy way to fit in at school or university so I just sort of left that behind me,” he says.

“I was very into sport – I went to boarding school on a sporting scholarship and then played a lot of sport here in Brisbane and that consumed my life. And I just got caught up in the usual young adult party scene and it wasn’t until the age of 21 that I came back to God. I just started questioning things and the purpose of life – I guess there was an emptiness in the life I was living… 

“I sort of understood the Christian Gospel and what Jesus had done for me and I guess I looked at it then and I thought, ‘Well if this is something real, then it’s not something I can just ignore. If God is as big as He is and Jesus has done all that He has for me and it means the difference between eternal life and eternal death, then I need do something about it and live it, rather than just have a mental assent towards Christianity.’ And that was probably a real turning point in my life.”

It was not long after that Andrew first heard the statistic about 2,000 unreached language groups. “After hearing about these statistics – that was in 2001 as well – a growing burden for missions started in my heart…” he says.

The burden was fed by the experiences of his mentor Sav who had spent time on two of OM’s ships – the  Doulos and the Logos II – and had talked to Andrew about his experiences. Mr Carnell ended up spending 16 months on two OM ships – Logos II and Logos Hope – where he worked as a school teacher (he was previously a phys-ed teacher and involved in chaplaincy) as well as being involved in the ships’ sports ministry.

The 2000 languages into which the Bible has not yet been translated include:

• Chittagonian, spoken by 13 million people in Bangladesh;

• Seeku, spoken by 17,000 people in Burkina Faso;

• Panara, spoken by 250 people in Brazil;

• Kove, spoken by 6,750 people in Papua New Guinea; and,

• Laki, spoken by a million people in Iran

On his return to Australia, Andrew was approached about taking up the position of OM Queensland state director, a job which he took up in February 2009.

While all three men are keen sportsmen, Andrew – who is already in training, walking up to 10 kilometres a day – says walking the 2,000 kilometres will still be a “massive task”. He expects sore legs and blisters but is hopeful they can avoid the worst of afflictions – chafing.

“(T)here’s going to be some really tough days,” he says. “(But) for me personally, I’m really looking forward to meeting people along the way – specifically In some of the smaller churches that I wouldn’t, in my role, usually get to connect with. I think one of the highlights will be just the people we meet along the way and hearing their heart for mission and for God and sharing with them in their churches and their homes. I’m sure they’ll be a lot of great memories created.”

Andrew says he’s already learnt a lot about “God and life” as a result of being part of the project.

“Just the way that He’s gone before us and is providing for us and bringing the people on board in building a team. We’re not running on a big budget so He’s really providing for us in these ways…I look back to the first time that Sav actually mentioned it to me and I totally wrote him off, and as I reflect on that, I think that we should never say never…God can do great things that seem impossible.”

Andrew says that the walk is about showing how, by taking one step after the other and looking to God, the impossible can become possible. It’s an idea which he believes relates to Bible translation as well.

“Two thousand languages, 350 million people – all that task entails seems too big but really, in a similar way to the walk, I think that step-by-step it is achievable…” he says.

“For me, what really drives me is the day we can say it’s done – each one of those (language) groups had someone assigned to them that is translating the Scriptures into their language. That’s what excites me.”

If you’d like to get involved – whether it’s attending one of the meetings along the way, putting some money toward a language project or adopting a Bible-less people group – visit


sight plus logo

Sight+ is a new benefits program we’ve launched to reward people who have supported us with annual donations of $26 or more. To find out more about Sight+ and how you can support the work of Sight, head to our Sight+ page.



We’re interested to find out more about you, our readers, as we improve and expand our coverage and so we’re asking all of our readers to take this survey (it’ll only take a couple of minutes).

To take part in the survey, simply follow this link…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.