Mary Jones grew up in a small grey stone cottage nestled in the Welsh countryside. Mary’s father was a weaver and worked very hard to support the family. The family were Welsh Methodists and attended church weekly. On such occasions Mary would sit in the family pew and listen to the preacher with rapt attention. She was fascinated with the Bible that sat on the lectern in front of the church. She watched the preacher flip through its pages and read from it, waiting quietly till after the service had ended to slip down th aisle and lovingly thumb through its well-wron pages herself.
Her love for the Bible is what led Mary to learn to read. She wanted to read the Bible for herself and she was determined to learn how. She focused on her education and worked hard to learn how to read under the tutelage of the local school master.
When Mary was young, her father died and she was raised by her widowed mother. Money was tight and the family struggled to make ends meet. But despite her difficult circumstances Mary had decided that she wanted to own a Bible. She began to work hard, picking up whatever jobs presented themselves to her, and squirreling away every penny she could spare. She worked and saved for 6 long years, until at the age of 15 she had accumulated enough funds to purchase a Bible of her own.
She knew that Reverend Thomas Charles had Bibles for sale in his home in Bala and one day Mary decided to make the journey in order to purchase her own copy. Bala was 25 miles away on foot and Mary didn’t have shoes. She set out in the cool of the morning, determined to accomplish her mission and reached the home of the as dusk closed around the little town of Bala, travel worn but eager.
She presented her hard earned money to Reverend Charles and explained her errand. The Reverend was so elated and inspired by her story that he gave her not one but three Bibles for the price of one. After spending the night at the Reverends home Mary made the 25 mile trip back home clutching her three treasures close to her chest.
Mary’s story had a domino effect on much of Christendom in the British Isles. In 1804 William Wilberforce, Thomas Charles and other members of the Clapham sect were galvanised into action with a vision to see the Word of God transform society globally. Wilberforce and others came together to formally establish the British and Foreign Bible Society known today as the Bible Society. In 200 years the Bible Society had penetrated as many countries with the Word of God and had paved the way for the rise of its sister Society, The American Bible Society in 1816.
This was also a period of time which saw the rapid growth of foreign missions. The London Missionary Society was established in 1795 and began to send missionaries overseas to spread the Gospel. Their most famous missionary was Dr. David Livingstone from Blantyre in Scotland. A man who braved the wilds of Africa to plant mission stations all along the Zambezi river. He sacrificed his health and the prospects of a comfortable life in England in exchange for malaria and a mud, all in pursuit of the Salvation of souls through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Then there was Hudson Taylor, inspired by God to take the Bible and the Gospel to China. He planted churches throughout China, raised mission stations to disciple and train those he converted and worked tirelessly to raise funds to keep the mission going. He established the China Inland Mission which facilitated the movement of missionaries into China from 1885, seeing the total number of Missionaries grow from 163 to 800 by the turn of the 20th Century.
Another pivotal movement was the Keswick Convention, a gathering of like minded believers for the purpose of revival, reformation and mission. There were many who devoted their lives to mission service in far off lands as a result of this gathering. One of the most notable missionaries to be inspired to action by the Keswick Convention was Amy Carmichael, missionary to India.
The long night of the Dark Ages was inching to a close and the light of God’s word was beginning to penetrate the darkness with hope. The 1260 year prophecy of Daniel drew to a close in 1798 marking the beginning of a period described by Daniel as the time of the end. This significant epoch of prophetic time was marked, at its beginning, with the explosion of the word of God globally. The dawn of a new day was at hand, a time when God would raise up a movement that would finish the work begun by the great reformers of the 16th century. A movement that would run the final leg of the race and cross the finish line, gloriously triumphant.
The purpose of this new movement would be simple; to take the final message of mercy to a dying world and to hasten the coming of Jesus. May we each be a part of this movement, may we each have a hand in taking this last message, to all the world, in this generation. Maranatha, even so come Lord Jesus.