Mary Jones wanted a Bible of her own. With persistence and even under difficult circumstances, she prevailed and got one.
Her fervor inspired the founding of the British and Foreign Bible Society and the global network it now encompasses. Its stated vision is: “We are working to see a day when the Bible’s God-given revelation, inspiration and wisdom is shaping the lives and communities of people everywhere.”
Mary was born in 1784 into a poor family in Wales. Her parents were Calvinistic Methodists, and Mary became a Christian when she was eight years old. She learned to read at a school organized by Thomas Charles, who was a preacher from Bala, a town about twenty-five miles from where Mary lived. She often visited a farm some two miles from her home to read the Bible that was there. But, she had a burning desire to own a Bible of her own and in her own language.
Her hope seemed in vain, as there was little money and Bibles were hard to come by. It was not certain one would even be available for sale. Despite the slim hope, Mary saved her money. It took her six years before she had enough saved up to buy her own Welsh Bible. She heard that she might be able to buy one from Thomas Charles in the town of Bala. So, in 1800, at the age of fifteen, she set out and walked barefoot for twenty-five miles across valleys, streams and around mountains to Bala.
She came to the home of Reverend Charles, only to find out that all of the copies that he had were either sold or promised to others. Mary wept and was very distraught and heartbroken. Reverend Charles was touched by her devotion, and finally agreed to sell her one of the copies that he had promised to someone else.
It was the impression that Mary left on Reverend Charles that compelled him to make a proposal to the Council of the Religious Tract Society. He proposed they form a new Society for the purpose of supplying Bibles to the Welsh people. As a result The British and Foreign Bible Society was established in London in 1804.
Mary Jones died in 1864. The Bible she walked so far for is kept in the British and Foreign Bible Society archives located in the Cambridge University Library. Over two centuries later the worldwide work of the Society still continues and emphasizes the importance and relevance of God’s Word for today.