‘I have treasured the Words of His mouth more than my necessary food’ (Job 23:12)
Mary Jones was a true woman of God. Not many people have heard of her story but she is one of God’s beloved saints. She was born in a very poor but committed Christian family in Welsh. She became converted to Christ at the age 8. She was ten years old when she prayed that God will give her heart’s desire. She did not pray for a doll, for a dress or for new shoes. These were the two things she desired the most: to be able to go to school so that she can read and write and also that she may have her own personal Bible in Welsh language. Both these things seem impossible gifts. There was no school and no teachers in her village. Both her parents were illiterates. Then God moved in His own special way…
Few months later, ‘a mobile’ school started in a caravan, about two miles from her village. Mary was so excited and begged her parents to be allowed to go there. Her parents agreed and so little Mary trekked to school daily. She had to work very hard at home too. She was so hungry to learn that she became the best in her class. Then she decided to work and make money to buy her own Bible in her native Welsh language. Apart from her daily chores at home, Mary Jones sold honey, did baby seating, sowing and picked fire wood for her neighbors. She was paid half penny per day. She dropped all the coins into a clay jar made by her father. She saved all her money and she never spent any for pleasure for 6 years.
She wanted a Welsh Bible. These were very rare and expensive. For example, in her village, only the pastor had one. At 16 years old she asked her parents’ permission to go to Bala, a city 25 miles away, to buy a Bible. She had to trek barefooted from morning to evening (she had just one pair of shoes and she used it only for special occasions, not for such a long trek).
She went to the house of Reverend Charles Thomas who sold Bibles. She told him that she needs a Bible and that she has saved all her money for the past 6 years. The reverend initially refused her, saying that all his Bibles have been booked by others. She fell down and wept and wept… Rev. Charles then shouted: ‘It was not possible to give you a Bible today, but… for Christ sake…I have to do it! ’ This is how she got her Bible. She then had to trek back home with the treasure in her sack.
This scripture applies so well to her:
‘The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly’ (Ps 84:11)
After the death of her parents, she married Thomas Lewis, a weaver, like her father. He too was a poor man, but rich in grace and a true spiritual partner. They had 6 children. Only one survived to be an adult. They were poor materially but very kind and generous. Both parents and children worked hard, they gathered all their money in a family purse called ‘the treasury’.
She made money from taking care of bees. She said that each time she came back from travel the bees will welcome her as a hero. They will land on her body by the hundreds and ‘buzz’ praises to God. Not once was she even stung by a bee.
Their family ‘law’ was this: what can we do without? What can we let go for Christ sake? For example, one daughter wanted a hat with a ribbon. She got the hat but sold the ribbon to add money to the treasury. Parents and children, they almost never had any luxuries. They sent all their savings as a contribution to the Bible Society, for the translation and distribution of Bibles to poor countries all over the world.
Rev. Thomas Charles who sold the first Bible to her was so touched by her passion for the Word of God that he founded the British and Foreign Bible Society. It was founded by rich Christian people who had the same vision, to distribute Bibles to the poor people, in their language. Mary Jones was the inspiration of it all. Millions of Bibles have been translated, printed and distributed all over the world, up till today. Who knows how many souls were saved, how many marriages were restored, how many children learned to obey their parents, how many dreams were born and fulfilled…all these because of a poor girl called Mary Jones, who like Job, loved the Word more than her daily bread.
She was poor all her life. She died as a poor old blind widow. Yet despite all her hardships and troubles, her Christian faith held to the end, and she was noted for her faithfulness to the Calvinistic Methodist church in Bryn-crug, her village.
To the world, Mary Jones was an ‘ordinary’ woman. To God, she was a faithful servant of Christ.
Her Bible is now in a museum at the National Library of Wales. In it was found this little poem that she composed:
“This is Jesus’ dear Bible,
Precious gift of God’s right hand;
There we find the rule for living
And the path to Canaan’s land;
There we read our ruin’s story,
Eden’s sad and sorry loss;
There we find the way to glory
Through my Jesus and His cross”
What lessons can we learn from her life and testimony?
*The Bible is the greatest treasure you possess.
*Read, meditate, pray, obey the Word of God!
*Teach your children the Word of God! Your children will not automatically love God just by the reading of the Bile. Recognize grace when it is found in a child. As parents, do everything you can to encourage the grace of God found in your child. Nurture any interest your child has to read the Bible, to pray or go to church! That is divine wisdom!
May God bless you dear reader with the blessings of Christ!
(in the picture above is Mary Jones’ Bible)