Dr. Ralph Winter was a knowledgeable man with education in a variety of subject areas. One of the treasures of his archives collection is all of his writings. He wrote only one full-length book in his life but dozens of articles that were published in various journals over the years. The archive to highlight this week is an article in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research published in January of 1995. A lot of it is autobiographical in nature, and Dr. Winter discusses about how when he was young, his parents and elders wondered what his career of choice would possibly be. He writes, “Would I continue in engineering? Then why…go…to a Christian college to learn Greek?…Why did I shift to an M.A….in Teaching English as a Second Language?…Why did I decide to go on for a Ph.D. at Cornell? There I majored in structural linguistics, minoring in cultural anthropology and mathematical statistics.” Afterward, Dr. Winter earned a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and became an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
He was also a creative thinker and strategist. While on the mission field in Guatemala in the early 1960s, Dr. Winter risked proposing that the local shaman be taught certain medical skills in order to protect the local people from careless medical practice administered by him, and as a means to get to know him in friendship. The idea was too controversial, so he had to settle for teaching national pastors business skills that would be beneficial in their bi-vocational roles.
After returning to Pasadena, California to teach at the School of World Mission of Fuller Theological Seminary, Dr. Winter founded a publishing company he called William Carey Library (WCL), which still operates today, 46 years after its founding in 1969. See http://www.missionbooks.org. Its beginning purpose was to publish the theses and dissertations being written by graduates of the School of World Mission. He states regarding starting WCL, “it was a feasible undertaking for a person with an engineering degree, experience in small business development in Guatemala, plus teaching accounting both in Spanish and English.”
Dr. Winter indeed wore many hats throughout his life’s work as did his first wife Roberta. The picture below is of the region of Quetzaltenango, where the Winters lived and served as missionaries in Guatemala.