Heroes of the Faith: Mary Jones

Mary Jones was born in December 1784 at Llanfihangel-y-Pennant, a small hamlet in one of the deep valleys of North Wales. It was a Welsh-speaking, sheep-farming community and Mary’s family earned a meagre living from the weaving of wool. Life got harder after Mary’s father died when she was four.

Wales had been affected by several revivals in the eighteenth century and Mary grew up in a Christian home. One man who was involved in preaching the revivals was Reverend Thomas Charles. He was not just a powerful preacher but also someone responsible for creating a basic school system in the area. In 1791 he found himself at the heart of another wave of revival. He wrote, ‘Here, in our town of Bala, for some time back, we have had a very great, powerful, and glorious outpouring of the Spirit of God, on the people in general, especially young people. The state and welfare of the soul is become the general concern of the country. Scores of the wildest, and most inconsiderate of the people, have been awakened.’ One Sunday he wrote, ‘About nine o’clock at night, there was nothing to be heard from one end of the town to the other, but the cries and groans of people in distress of soul.’

The revival spread quickly and widely around the surrounding area bringing with it not just conversions but also a deepening and enriching of people’s Christian faith. It is in this atmosphere that, a year after the revival, Mary came to profess the Christian faith at the age of 8. Courtesy of one of Thomas Charles’ schools, Mary was able to read and soon wanted a Bible for herself. Welsh Bibles were rare and expensive and the nearest copy available was owned by a neighbour two miles away. Mary would regularly walk over and read and memorise all she could, but she soon began saving for a Bible of her own.

Six years later she had enough money. Hearing that Bibles could be obtained from Thomas Charles in Bala, 26 miles (42 km) away on rugged roads, she set out barefoot one morning in 1800 to buy one. Mary returned home the delighted possessor of a Bible.

What then happened was that Thomas Charles, pondering on her hunger and action to get the Word of God, proposed the formation of a society to supply Wales with reasonably priced Bibles. His proposal expanded: why just Wales? Why not other parts of the United Kingdom? Indeed, why not for the world? And in 1804 the British and Foreign Bible Society (now the Bible Society) was formed. There’s a story that, at the age of 70, Mary Jones gave half a sovereign – a significant amount in those days – towards the Bible Society’s appeal to print a million Chinese New Testaments.

In the story of Mary Jones, I see three things that both encourage and challenge me.

1.     Mary Jones’ confidence in the Bible and her hunger to possess it. Clearly, she prized it as something that was so valuable that it was worth years of saving and hours of walking because she knew the Bible revealed Jesus. Do we treat God’s Word with this respect? We ought to.

2.     Mary Jones demonstrates one of the great themes of the Bible: that the mighty God works through little people. It would be hard to find anybody more insignificant at the end of the eighteenth century than this poor girl in a remote corner of Wales. Yet God took her zeal and commitment and used it to set in progress something that was to have an extraordinary effect on the world and continues to have today through 140 Bible Societies all over the world. Let us seize the opportunities that ‘little people’ give us.

3.     We see the working of the Holy Spirit in revival. God’s Spirit was at work in preparing a people who hungered for God and his Word. God spoke in extraordinary power convicting people of their sin and pointing them to Jesus. Our world needs that sort of spiritual revival today. Let’s pray for it!

Main Image copyright: wikipedia 

Revd Canon J.John

Director: www.canonjjohn.com

One thought on “Heroes of the Faith: Mary Jones

  • 12th September 2020 at 8:13 pm
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    A Sacred Value
    The sacred value of each human life is being contested more and more today. A powerful new film,
    ORDER OF RIGHTS, respectfully and carefully examines the arguments for and against the right to life of the unborn. Premiering Oct. 2, 2020 on streaming platforms (Amazon, Google, and VUDU), this unique movie addresses the debate over the sanctity of life and the question of whether or not a child in the womb is a person.
    ORDER OF RIGHTS focuses on Emma Stein (Emma Elle Roberts), a pregnant single girl who has been
    advised by her mother to have an abortion despite the objection of the child’s young Christian father, Ethan Carpenter (Ben Davies). Even as Ethan tries to help her, Emma decides to go ahead with terminating the pregnancy. Ethan and his family file a lawsuit on behalf of the child’s right to life, and their story moves to prominence as a nationally publicized court case.
    The court must decide whether the child in Emma’s womb is a person or not and if so if it is endowed with the unalienable rights as enumerated in the Declaration of Independence.
    Dr. Diane Howard has an exclusive interview with actor and producer Julie Silcott:
    DH: As an actor in this movie, what character do you play?
    JS: I play the mother of the young father, Joan Carpenter.
    DH: What is your character’s significance in the story?
    JS: Joan Carpenter brings relatability to audiences, especially to those who have personally dealt with these issues. She brings honesty and authenticity to the movies. She brings understanding of both sides of the issues. She has an honest back story. Her character helps to bring healing to all sides in the story.

    DH: How is this movie unique in its approach to the value of each human life?
    JS: It is unique in presenting the position of the father. It is also unique in presenting the relationship of the issues in this movie with the fundamental, self-evident positions and ideas of our American Founding Fathers.
    DH: What new angles or perspectives does this movie bring to the issues of the value of human life?
    JS: We all have equal rights endowed by our Creator. We are all created equal and all have the right to life.
    DH: Why is this movie significant today?
    JS: Protecting all human life is the Number One Issue today! America was built on important ideas, which include freedom from oppression and the protection of all lives.
    DH: Why is this movie important to you?
    JS: We began this project on Martin Luther King Day and I have been especially concerned about how Black Babies have been targeted for abortions.
    DH: What issues does this movie address which are often not considered concerning the value of human life, especially of the unborn?
    JS: It presents the man’s side of these issues and how they are related to the American Declaration of Independence and to the Order of Importance of these rights.
    Jim Ball, the movie’s director says, “The title, ORDER OF RIGHTS, refers to the order in which the categories of rights are deliberately listed in the Declaration of Independence: ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,’ such ideals often recognized as America’s mission statement upon which
    our governing framework, the Constitution, is based. “
    In most abortion cases, a mother’s ‘right to pursue happiness’ overshadows a baby’s
    ‘right to life.’ The film’s fair-minded approach gives audiences a nuanced look at both
    views of the unborn in a courtroom setting.

    “It is our hope to raise the voices of millions through this film who are speaking out and
    especially for those who cannot speak for themselves, the unborn,” said Steve Ball,
    executive producer. “It is also our hope that this film touches those who have
    experienced abortions so that they know that they can receive forgiveness and begin to
    heal.”

    ORDER OF RIGHTS is an insightful, heart-grabbing film with questions and angles that bring fresh perspectives to the debate over the value of human life.
    By Diane Howard, Ph.D. (Performance Studies)

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