Story Behind Formation of Bible Society

Whilst the Bible Society celebrated its 200th anniversary recently, many are curious about the history behind the organisation. Although most Christians have some awareness of the ministry, maybe only a few know the remarkable story that led to the founding of its English parent.

Mary Jones was a ten-year old girl living near a small town in Wales in 1794. Every morning following chores, Mary would walk two miles to school where she learned to read. It wasn’t long before the teacher asked Mary to read to the class from the big Welsh Bible.

So meaningful was her experience of reading the Bible to her classmates that Mary immediately decided she would do everything she could to purchase a Bible of her own.

A nearby farmer’s wife, Mrs. Evans, invited Mary to her house on Saturday's to read the Holy Book. Every Saturday afternoon, after helping her mother at home, a very happy Mary ran to Mrs. Evans' farm to read from her neighbour’s Bible.

For several years Mary worked diligently to earn money for a Bible for herself. She knitted socks, grew vegetables to sell, and even kept bees and sold their honey.

Mrs. Evans helped her by giving her some chickens so Mary could sell eggs. When harvest time came, Mary helped the farmers with their crops to earn additional income.

Mary saved her money for six years before the day she counted her coins and realised that, at last, she had enough to buy a Bible. Her pastor said that a Mr. Charles in Bala, could sell her one. There was only one problem; Bala was twenty-five miles away and the only way Mary had of getting there was to walk.

Mary spent an entire day walking to Bala. Arriving late in the day, she had to stay overnight with a friend before she could see Mr. Charles.

Very early the next morning, Mary knocked on Mr. Charles' door. She excitedly told him about her hard work to save enough money to buy a Bible. Sadly, Mr. Charles had to tell Mary he couldn’t help her as he’d sold all his Welsh Bibles except for one and that one he had promised to a friend.

So disappointed was Mary that she began to cry. Seeing her sorrow, Mr. Charles remembered he had an English Bible and that his friend could read English as well as Welsh. Charles gladly sold the Welsh Bible to Mary who raced the twenty-five miles home to read it to her parents.

Mr. Charles never forgot Mary. Her dedication to securing a Bible of her own helped him decide he would do everything possible to help the people of Wales obtain Bibles of their own.

Four years later, in 1804, Charles visited a group in London called the Religious Tract Society that eventually became known as the British and Foreign Bible Society. The first Bible they printed was the Gospel of John in the language of North America’s Mohawk Indians.

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