Archive for September, 2021

The gift of Mary Jones

In 1800 Mary Jones set off on an epic journey 26 miles barefoot to buy a Bible. Living in extreme poverty and having worked and saved 6 years, Mary managed to acquire enough money.

In those days Welsh Bibles were very rare, so rare in fact that Mary had to walk 2 miles to nearby farm to read one. In Bala however, a man by the name of Thomas Charles was known to supply them. So Mary, determined to own one followed her heart and her destiny.

In 2018 I was blessed to visit Bala for the very first time. The house where Thomas Charles lived is on the high street and it was here where Mary received the Bible she had so eagerly desired.

Nearby is a museum called Mary Jones World and the grave of Thomas Charles is in the church grounds. Here visitors can learn all about the story and find ways of connecting with it. In our day and age it is not so easy to understand why any person would save for such a long time and walk such a distance to get a Bible, after all you can get a copy anywhere. But this reality is a reality because of Mary Jones herself. Thomas Charles was so inspired by what Mary Jones did, that he helped establish the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804. Because of Mary Jones, billions of Bibles have been printed and distributed around the world.

What a wonderful gift.

Mary Jones was an outstanding individual and she followed her election and knew that the Bible was worth more than all the materialistic wealth this world can offer.

But if we look at the world around us, ask yourself a question; have we gotten any better since our nation abandoned the Bible and turned to its own ways? Have we united? Has the Church grown or improved? And what about you, have you improved and made this world any better? Have you found any better ethic than the Sermon on the Mount?

Go out, look at the world around you and see for yourself. Ask the question, are we any better as a nation since they abandoned the very Book that established her values?

Or will you learn the lesson, and take that gift and read it for yourself and believe. All I know is that for all this world can offer, for all her worldviews and all her happenings, the Bible is for me the greatest Book in the world and for all my faults, I know that faith in Jesus Christ is enough to save a man. And prayer changes things!

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My English ancestors and St Leonards Church

Over the years I have always known my Sutherland name has implications of Scottish ancestry. Over recent years I have uncovered those details and yes, my Scottish ancestors go back to the ancient Kirk of Scotland, Dunrobin Castle and beyond. But what of my English ancestors on my mothers side?

My mother’s ancestors, on my grandmothers side, descend from Welsh origin through the surname of my great grandfather Henry Jones. Yet my mothers father was English through and through.

This grandfathers surname was Smithies, a direct ancestry that can be traced back to an area in Northern England known as Middleton. Here my English ancestors have direct connections with St Leonards, an ancient parish with a Church on a hill. It was here, at St Leonards, where 16th century reformer John Bradford preached and also directly referenced in his farewell to Lancashire and Cheshire. Bradford pleaded with them “Turn unto the Lord, yet once more – I heartily beseech thee.”

The Church was established in Saxon times and was also the place where the Lindsfarne Gospels and the bones of St Cuthbert were temporally kept. The Church was also attended by the Bamford family, from whom came Samuel Bamford.

At present the baptismal records directly trace my Smithies ancestors to 1658. This is a fantastic discovery for me knowing that I have been walking in the footsteps of my ancestors.

For me, after 35 years of being a Christian, I am resolved to know that in the Church of England I am standing in the right place.

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