Mary Jones grew up in a small grey stone cottage nestled in the Welsh countryside. Her father died when she was young and she was raised by her mother. The family was spiritual and attended church every week. It was during these weekly church services that Mary’s fascination with the Bible began.
Every week as the preacher stood at the pulpit and read from the large, worn, leather Bible Mary sat listening, transfixed. At the end of the sermon, she would walk up to the front of the church and reverently open the leather cover and finger the creased pages inside. She couldn’t read but she soon began to take lessons determined to read the Bible for herself one day. Once she had learned to read she then began to save money, working as many odd jobs as she could find in order to earn every extra penny she could lay her hands on.
She squirreled away her money over a period of six years, finally accumulating enough to afford a Bible of her own. She then made the 28 mile trip on foot to the town of Bala to purchase the longed-for book. She arrived at the home of Reverend Thomas Charles and told him why she had come.
He was so touched by her story that he sold her three Bibles for the price of one. Mary then made the 28 mile trip back home with a heart that was singing for joy as she tightly clasped her treasures.
Mary’s story had a domino effect on much of Christendom in the British Isles. Reverend Joseph Hughes challenged leaders of the Religious Tract Society in 1802 with the question “if not for Wales, why not for the kingdom?” A question that would act as a spark to set alight a movement for the wide distribution of the Bible globally.
In 1804 William Wilberforce and other members of the Clapham sect were galvanized 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 hut, 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.