Imperial Community Church in Southern California witnessed an amazing feat on Sunday when Tom Meyer, a traveling “Wordsower” from Wordsower International Ministries, recited the entire book of Revelation completely from memory.
The 35-year-old Meyer is just one of a handful of professional Wordsowers from the ministry, which is based in Nampa, Ind. The Imperial Valley Press reports that it took Meyer about an hour to recite the entire book of Revelation on Sunday in front of a crowd of about 30 people.
But Revelation isn't the only book Meyer knows in its entirety. According to his website, thescripturecannotbebroken.com, he has also memorized the entire book of James, Ruth, Daniel, Jonah, a number of the books by the minor prophets (Joel, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai and Malachi) and a number of other passages from both the Old and New Testaments.
"I like this, this idea of the orality of Scripture and not just taking out a verse and breaking it apart and talking about it, but letting the actual oracle of the Word of God do the speaking,” Meyer told The Christian Post on Monday.
He travels around the country with his now-pregnant wife and recites the Scriptures, from memory, to churches and other organizations “as often as humanly possible,” he said. Meyer says he has no home besides the RV that he and his wife travel in.
“We're kind of like modern day ... nomads, or something like that,” he said.
He doesn't charge churches any set fees for his performances, but instead accepts money given through love offerings. A percentage of the funds help support him and his family on their mission, but a certain amount is also given to help his organization's overseas ministries.
Wordsower International has orphanages in India, West Africa and Haiti. The ministry has also planted churches, and has widow support programs which Meyer and the other Wordsowers help to fund as well.
Meyer began devoting himself to the memorization of the Bible shortly before he left his home in Illinois to take classes at Shasta Bible College in Redding, Calif., where he serves as a professor and teaches memorization to this day. He had only memorized John 3:16 prior to leaving Illinois, but when a pastor challenged him to memorize part of the Sermon on the Mount, he began to enjoy it and went on to memorize even more.
The most requested book for him to recite, he says, is the book of Revelation.
"Especially with 2012 coming up next year, and the mainstream media apocalyptic stories they're going to have about the Mayan calendar ... I think that people want to know what the Word of God has to say about the end,” he said.
When he recites passages from Scripture, he says, he tries to capture the emotions and expressions of the biblical writers and convey those things to his audience. He says it can be draining to recite books like Revelation, because he not only has to remember the words but he also has to speak them in a manner which accurately reflects what the writer was trying to say.
After graduating in 2006, Meyer spent four years overseas, mostly in Jerusalem but also in Egypt and Jordan, and learned about the oral transmission customs of Jews, Christians and Muslims while writing a thesis paper on the topic. During his time overseas he learned memorization techniques from monks, and found 60 different techniques ancient people used to help them memorize.
He has since developed his own system of memorization, which includes writing and speaking the text at the same time. After he memorizes a passage, he says, the key to keeping it in mind is simply oral repetition of the passage.
As of Monday morning Meyer was in Los Angeles, but he has plans to travel to the Chicago area in the next few days and will later move on to Florida. Each year he also visits Petersburg, Ky., and speaks at Answers in Genesis' Creation Museum.
“Your impressive Bible recitations – from memory – have not only blessed our museum guests in recent years, but our staff has also been encouraged,” wrote Answers in Genesis President and CEO Ken Ham in a recommendation letter which appears on Meyer's website.
Meyer hopes his ministry will not just be seen as an interesting trick, but he instead hopes to encourage others to memorize and take God's Word to heart as well.
"That's what memorizing is all about at the end of the day,” he said. “To have a closer walk with God. To have His Word in your heart and to instruct you and to teach you. To be a doer of the Word of God."