In a time when you can have instant access to all the words of the Bible through an app on your smartphone, Tom Meyer has spent more than 10 years perfecting a rather quaint skill – learning the Bible by heart.
The 35-year-old says he now can recite 10 books from the Old and New Testaments. They include the entire book of Revelation, which he will speak aloud as a one-man show at 6 p.m. Sunday at Shoaff Park Baptist Church, 6151 St. Joe Road.
What we’re going for is that John the apostle just came back from (exile on) Patmos, and he’s telling you verbatim what he saw, Meyer says, adding he chose the visionary and often-controversial text because of its dramatic potential and an uptick in interest in its end-of-times content.
There’s so much now about the end of the world, with the Mayan calendar 2012 (doomsday predictions) and movies like The Hunger Games,’ he says.
People want to know and see what the Bible has to say about it.
A native of Illinois, Meyer says he started committing Scripture to memory when a pastor/mentor who now lives in Fort Wayne, Peter Greenhow, challenged him to memorize Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount before heading off to Bible college.
He knew I was going to be anxious and worried about things. It’s a passage that comforts people and I think he knew it, Meyer says.
Since then, he’s taken courses to improve his memory skills and also has become part of a larger Wordsowers movement – people who memorize Scripture as a means to evangelization.
We want to produce walking, talking books, he says. In the West, we live in a cut-paste world. We live in a print world, but many cultures in the world still live in a non-print world.
Sunday’s performance will benefit Wordsowers’ church-planting efforts in West Africa and India, as well as My Father’s House mission for orphans in Haiti, Meyer says. The group is based in Salem, Ore., and is online at www.wordsower.org.
Meyer, who recently returned from serving as volunteer missionary in Israel, says there are no shortcuts to memorization. But he’s found a three-step technique useful. It involves hearing the scripture read to him, then reading it aloud and, finally, writing it down, verse by verse.
You need to say it as you write it so your mind and eye and ear and hand are all together, he says, noting that he spends 35 to 45 minutes each day memorizing.
The key to retention is oral repetition. You have to say it over and over again.
Meyer, who confesses to having memorized the statistics on the back of baseball cards when he was a kid, acknowledges that memorization has become something of a lost art.
We don’t even memorize phone numbers any more, he says.