"Mary, Mary!" Exasperation filled Molly Jones' voice. "Where could that girl be? She usually has her chores finished by now. Maaaary..."
Her mother's call interrupted six-year-old Mary Jone's daydreams, and she remembered the chores. The sun was low in the sky as Mary dashed home to finish them.
"Mother, I'm sorry I forgot my chores. I'll go finish them right now."
"But Mary, this isn't like you. What were you doing?"
Mary answered breathlessly. "There were no eggs in the nest, so I went to look for the hens' newest hiding place, and while I was walking, I looked over at Cader Idris, and the mountain made me think of Mount Moriah and Abraham and Isaac and how Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac, but God gave them the ram at the last minute!"
Chuckling, Molly interrupted her daughter. "So the mystery is solved. I understand perfectly! I should have known you were thinking about a Bible story."
"But mother," Mary answered, "all the best stories come from the Bible. How I wish I could read them for myself."
In Wales in 1790, Mrs. Jones knew that six-year-old Mary had little chance of learning to read and even less chance of owning a Bible. Still, she didn't want to discourage her daughter. "Some day, Mary, perhaps someday you will."
"God Will Give Me a Bible!"
When Mary Jones was eight or nine years old, a school opened in the village two miles away from her home town of Llanfi-hangel. Mary could barely contain her excitement when her mother told her the news. "I can't believe it, Mother! God has finally answered my prayers. Soon I'll be able to read the Bible myself!"
Molly smiled at Mary's youthful optimism. "It's a two mile walk to that new school, and the same coming home each day. Are you sure you can handle that, Mary?"
"Oh, Mother, of course I can. I would walk much more than two miles if it meant I could read the Bible for myself. I can hardly wait! When does school start?"
"In three weeks, and of course you can wait. You'll have to!" Despite her teasing tone, Mary could tell her mother was disturbed.
"What is it, Mother?" Mary asked. "Mary, you do understand we have no money for a Bible? We barely make ends meet as it is. Besides, Bibles are scarce! Why, I've never even seen one for sale!"
But Mary was far from discouraged. "Mother, I understand, but God understands, too. I've prayed for so long that God would let me learn to read so I could read His words. The new school is the beginning of God's answer to my prayer. When I'm ready to read His Word, God will show me how to get a Bible."
Molly hugged her daughter and kissed the top of her head. "You're right, Mary," she whispered, humbled by her daughter's faith. "We'll pray every night and trust God."
"And how much did you earn today, Mary?" Molly asked fourteen-year-old Mary as she entered the house and went to the moneybox in the cupboard.
"Only a few pennies today, Mother," Mary answered cheerfully as she dropped the money into the box. "But I'll have eggs to sell tomorrow and I'm taking in laundry next week!"
Molly smiled at her daughter's enthusiasm. Mary had been saving for years already. While other children played, Mary worked at all kinds of jobs to earn money. "I'm proud of you, Mary. After all these years of saving you haven't given up!"
"In just a couple of more years I should have enough," replied Mary with a smile.
The Day Arrives
"Pastor, Pastor," sixteen-year-old Mary cried as she rushed up to her pastor. "I did it!"
"Did what, child? Here, sit down for a minute and catch your breath."
"I've finally saved enough money for my very own Welsh Bible! Can I get one here?"
"Your very own Bible! Why, that is quite an accomplishment. But there are no Bibles for sale in these parts." The pastor looked into Mary's eyes, which were bright with hope. "You'll have to go to Bala. A Mr. Charles lives there, and he has a few Welsh Bibles to sell. But waste no time, young Mary. They will sell quickly!"
Mary hurried home to give her mother the good news. "Bala! Why Mary, that's almost twenty-five miles away! How will you get there? It's much too far for you to walk alone!"
"God will go with me, Mother. I've worked over six years for a Bible, a 50-mile round trip will seem easy in comparison!" And as much as Molly disliked allowing Mary to make the trip on her own, she found she couldn't say no. Mary was right--God would go with her.
Mary Jones Takes a Long Walk
So, early the next morning, Mary set out on the long walk to Bala. With each mile, her feet ached more and more, for she walked barefoot so she wouldn't wear out her shoes. Upon arriving in Bala, Mary carefully pulled her shoes onto her red, swollen feet. She wanted to look her best when she bought her Bible!
Mr. Charles heard the knock and went to answer his front door. Standing there was a tired, dirty girl with a big grin on her face. "Please sir, my name is Mary Jones. Do you have Bibles for sale?" Mary asked.
"I just promised the last one to someone a few days ago." Then, seeing the tears in Mary's eyes, he asked, "Why child, what is the matter? Why are you crying?"
"Forgive me, sir. I just can't help it. I've saved my money for six years and walked twenty-five miles today to buy a Bible. I was sure God would have one for me, and now they've all been sold!"
Mr. Charles thought quickly. He could get another Bible for his other customer. What he couldn't do was send this remarkable young girl home without the book she had sacrificed so much to buy. "Mary, dry your eyes. You may buy the one Bible I have left. Anyone who has sacrificed as much as you have cannot be sent away empty-handed!"
But it was impossible for Mary to dry her eyes. At Mr. Charles' words, her tears of joy fell even more quickly. God had answered her prayer and given her the desire of her heart. After years of work and prayer, she finally owned a Bible in her own Welsh language!
And Mary's story didn't end there. In a way, it was just the beginning. Mr. Charles was very touched by the little girl who worked for 6 years and walked 25 miles to buy a Bible. Mary Jone's example provided the inspiration to start the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804, so more people could get Bibles of their own. Within about 100 years, the society distributed about 200 million Bibles and Scripture portions. There are now many Bible societies world wide, all distributing Bibles to those who couldn't get them otherwise.
Make It Real! Questions to make you dig a little deeper and think a little harder.
- How many Bibles do you have in your family? Is there a Bible in your home that is more special than the others? Why?
- Why do you think Marys Bible was so precious to her?
- Do you know anyone who doesnt have a Bible and would like one? How can you help them get a Bible?
- Use the internet to learn more about Bible Societies today. How could you support a Bible Society in their efforts to distribute Bibles?
- Mary Jones and Her Bible, Christian Focus Publications, Nov. 2004.