The Life-Changing Story of Mary Jones

By Fin Sheridan

In 1784, deep in the Welsh countryside, a girl called Mary was born. She grew up in a poor family and, when her father died when she was 5, her mother struggled to provide for them. Young Mary had a dream, a dream that would one day change the world. She wanted a Bible.

She’d heard people read from the Bible but they were extremely rare, particularly in Welsh. Mary Jones wanted to read, so she could read the Bible. However, the closest school was an hours walk away from her home. Finally, when she was 10 years old, she started to go to school.

Highly motivated, Mary rose to the top of the class. She still dreamt of a Bible of her own. A kind neighbour, several miles away, had a Welsh Bible and invited Mary to come and read. Every weekend, she would walk there and read, captivated by the words and the stories of Jesus.

For 6 years, Mary worked hard, doing odd jobs around the village, sewing, selling eggs, collecting firewood and babysitting as she dreamed of a Bible of her own. Occasionally, part of her fund had to go towards feeding her family, but eventually, she finally had enough. She could buy a Bible!

“If for Wales, why not for the kingdom? And if for the kingdom, why not for the world?”

She had heard about a pastor, 26 miles away in Bala, called Thomas Charles. He had Bibles for sale, in Welsh and English. So one day, pennies in hand, Mary set off on foot. She walked 26 miles, through the Welsh mountains, to fulfill her dream of owning a Bible.

However, the journey was not yet over. Thomas Charles had no Bibles left to give her! He provided Mary with food and lodgings and, after an agonising two days, he handed Mary not one, but three Bibles! Her compelling story and faith had stirred something in him.  

In fact, he was so moved that, in 1802, at a meeting of The Religious Tracts Society, he proposed that another group be formed to provide Bibles in Welsh. Inspired by the discussion, another minister, Joseph Hughes cried out: “If for Wales, why not for the kingdom? And if for the kingdom, why not for the world?” The phrase captured the meeting and The British and Foreign Bible Society was born. Today, they are simply known as ‘The Bible Society’.

For over 200 years, The Bible Society have placed Bibles across the world, into nations where the gospel is rarely preached or even strictly forbidden. All from the faith, the desire and the hard work of one young Welsh girl. A challenge for all of us, particularly those that so casually skip our daily opportunity to encounter God, through the Bible.

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