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No one epitomizes a passion for God’s Word like Mary Jones, a little girl who lived around 1800. As an 8-year-old, Mary lived in a beautiful valley in Wales. Her parents were simple, godly people who took their little girl to church and taught her Bible stories from her earliest years. These stories had to be taught from memory since the family did not own a Bible in the Welsh language. Such Bibles were very scarce, and most people could not afford them. Yet Mary loved the Word of God and longed to read it for herself. When a school opened in her area, Mary enrolled so that she could learn to read. Then she began visiting a neighbor who owned a Bible in order to study the Bible for herself. She even memorized whole chapters of the Bible and shared them with her parents.
Next, Mary began saving money to purchase her own copy of the Bible. Over the next six years, she sold eggs, gathered wood, mended clothing, and cared for younger children. Finally, she had enough money to buy a Bible. The closest town where a Bible could be bought was Bala, more than 25 miles away. So very early on a spring day in 1800, Mary Jones began to walk, barefoot, to Bala. There she met Thomas Charles, a godly man who did a great deal of ministry throughout Wales. When Mr. Charles asked Mary about herself, her family, and her knowledge of the Bible, he was impressed. Moreover, he was amazed by her love for the Scriptures and her patient endurance in saving for a Bible of her own. But he sadly told the girl that all of the Welsh Bibles he had received from London in the past year had been sold months ago, except for a few that had been promised to friends who must not be disappointed. He also told her that the Bible Society in London had no plans to print more Welsh Bibles. At this news, Mary dropped into a nearby seat and began to sob. The little girl’s passion for the Word moved Mr. Charles. His own voice broken with emotion, he rose from his seat and placed a gentle hand on Mary’s head. “My dear child, I see you must have a Bible, as difficult as it is for me to spare you one. It is simply impossible to refuse you.” So Mary Jones walked the 25 miles back home with her own copy of the Bible.
The impact of Mary’s life was much more far-reaching than her little village. In 1802, Mr. Charles visited London and, moved by his experience with the girl, told Mary’s story to the Religious Tract Society. From that meeting, the British and Foreign Bible Society was established to spread the Scriptures around the world.