wo weeks before her thirteenth birthday on September 29, 1874, Mary Andrews sailed from Boston, Massachusetts, with her dad, John Nevins Andrews, and her 16-year-old brother, Charles, for their mission assignment in Switzerland. Mary’s father was the first official missionary sent overseas by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. But maybe you didn’t realize that young Mary was also a missionary.

Mary’s mother died when she was 10, so Mary did the grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and other housework once they settled in La Coudre, Switzerland. In addition, she and her brother studied French with a tutor for hours every day except Sabbath. The little family decided they would learn French faster if they spoke English between only 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. During that one hour she and Charles talked in English to each other just as fast as they could!

After the Andrews family had been in Switzerland about a year, the grocery money began to run out. Throughout the year Mary’s dad had written six different tracts in French, and spent most of their funds printing those missionary journals. So in addition to all of Mary’s other responsibilities, she began to pick grapes for vineyard owners in order to earn money for groceries. It was very hard work, but Mary was determined to do all she could to help the people of Switzerland learn more about Jesus and His soon coming.

In 1876 the Andrews family moved to Basel. With the rented house came a maid! Her assistance with cooking and cleaning gave Mary more time to help her dad with his publishing projects. Over time, Mary’s French became so good that she was able to serve as copy editor for the French Signs of the Times. Professor Aufranc,  who had been a French teacher, told people “Mary speaks French as though she were a French girl.” Mr. Aufranc’s praise made Mary happy that she had studied French so diligently.

Unfortunately, Mary contracted tuberculosis and died when she was 17. She was the first Seventh-day Adventist missionary to give her life in mission service.

Adapted from Mary Andrews: Companion of Sorrows by Carolyn Byers. This article originally appeared in the August 2010 KidsView. Used with permission. Photos: Center for Adventist Research at Andrews University.

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