It all started with Mary Jones
The experience of a 15-year old Welsh girl, Mary Jones, is at the heart of the initial founding of Bible Society and the global network that now exists. Her determination to have the Bible for herself contributed to the inspiration behind Bible Society’s aims today.
Mary Jones was born in December 1784 into a poor Welsh family. Her father was a weaver. Her parents were Calvinistic Methodists and Mary herself became a Christian at the age of eight. They lived at the foot of the Cader Idris mountain, in Gwynedd, North Wales.
Mary learned to read in schools organized by Thomas Charles, a preacher from nearby Bala who had a passion for teaching children from poor families. Mary used to visit a farm two miles from her home to read a copy of the Bible there, but it became her burning desire to possess a Bible of her own.
It was a vain hope. Money was scarce and Welsh Bibles were hard to come by. The nearest place to buy one was Bala, 25 miles away, and it was not even certain that a copy could be bought there.
Mary saved money for six years, and eventually she had enough to buy a Bible. One morning in 1800 Mary set out to buy her Bible. It was 25 miles to Bala, and, as usual, she was barefoot. Her journey took her through valleys, across streams, and around mountains. Eventually she came to Bala and to the home of Mr. Charles, the only man in the town with Bibles for sale. But all the copies Mr. Charles had were either sold or spoken for. Distraught and heartbroken, Mary began to cry. Her despair touched Mr. Charles, and he who sold her one of the copies already promised to another.
Mary’s visit profoundly impacted Thomas Charles. He began to wonder what could be done for others such as Mary – for people who long for the Bible around the world. He proposed to the council of the Religious Tract Society to form a new society to supply Wales with Bibles. And so, in 1804, the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) was established in London with a broad mandate that included the entire United Kingdom and eventually the entire British Empire.
After a few years, BFBS started to work outside of the borders of the United Kingdom. One of the fruits of that initiative was the establishment of the Bible Society in the land of Israel. Many years have gone by since the work of the Bible Society started. Today there are Bible Societies in almost every country in the world. Bibles, or bible portions, have been translated into more than 2,500 languages. But we still have a long way to go until everyone in the world, in every place and in every situation, has easy access to a Bible in a language he understands.
There are also many areas in the world where a Bible is far too expensive for the average person to purchase. There are still millions of “Mary Joneses" in the world who would like to have their own Bible, but they will never be able to experience that joy because they don’t have enough money, or because there is no Bible available in a language they understand.
You can help to fill this need by praying for the worldwide work of the United Bible Societies.
The full story of Mary Jones on BFBS’s website
© Bible Society, used with permission. For further details visit www.biblesociety.org.uk
Start of Page