Gold Medals and God’s Word
As the London 2012 Olympics are set to start in the British capital, one man in Australia will be watching the events with keen interest.
Tom Treseder holds a Bible in one hand and a MegaVoice in the other
He is Tom H. Treseder, who during the last century was a World Champion sculler and whose name is etched in rowing history, yet he has revealed that, despite his success, his early life was empty and he was searching for something he had not yet found.
“The rowing trophies began to fill a whole cabinet in the family home,” he says.
His name continued to take up columns in the Australian press. He was popular with girls and older people recognized him as Treseder, the up and coming champion sculler and rower.
Yet, Tom says with all the popularity and success there was still an emptiness, a void in his heart. However he would never let on to those around him that he was searching for something he had not yet found.
He said that in the early days of career, he thought, “When I win my first State or Australian Championship, then the emptiness will be filled”. That day came, the championship cup sitting on his knee was massive, he was thrilled but the emptiness in his life continued.
The up-and-coming sportsman was sent to Sunday School and taken to church where the Bible was carefully taught. Though he was there primarily “for the girls” and the “good times” he could have afterwards, yet he revealed that “the Lord was working in my life.”
Treseder watched as others in his group gave their lives to Jesus. He saw the change in their lives. They gained a purpose and direction in their lives that he did not have and he wanted what he saw.
He told the Lord that he would respond to Him when his minister gave an appeal. (As if he could tell God what to do!).
Then a visiting evangelist came to his church and invited people to respond to the invitation of Jesus and surrender themselves to Christ. He said “come forward and kneel at the communion rail as an outward act of your inner heart response”.
Recalling that day, Tom says, “My legs were strong from my years of rowing but to stand and walk forward seemed impossible.”
But he said that God “drew him” and as he knelt he knew “all things had become new.” It was his 15th birthday! He was by God’s grace, “born again.”
But then he said he had to face the question – to row or not to row, as this was taking up so much of his time. Tom’s rowing training schedule at that time was four nights of the week, including Saturday and Sunday.
Because he was long and lanky, his coaches had mapped out his future. The World Championships, Commonwealth and Olympic Games, were all very attractive goals. He had also commenced the practice of daily reading the Bible and typically, God had begun to speak to him through its pages. (In those days it was the King James Version!)
A verse seemed to jump out to him in Philippians 4:19: “My God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
At the time he didn’t know its significance for his life.
Tom with his many medals
However, a few weeks later he felt uneasy about rowing on Sunday. Today Tom would say he was convicted.
But Sunday was a critical and big training day and if he didn’t row he would interrupt the training of four or eight other rowers, as in this sport, rowing is when each person has one oar in their hands.
He argued with the Lord on the issue. Not rowing on Sunday virtually meant the end of his already successful rowing career – and it was only just starting!
Eventually Tom came to the place where he said to the Lord, “I’ll do what you want me to do” even though this meant his dreams would not be fulfilled.
Then in his Bible reading another verse stood out for him. It was in the Old Testament 1 Samuel 2:30. In fact it was the same verse which was given to Scotland’s Eric Liddell in the 1924 Paris Olympics, whose story is told in the highly acclaimed film, “Chariots of Fire.” It says, “He that honours me I will honour.”
So, here was a second promise from a God whose Word is as relevant and practical today as it has ever been.
Just a couple of days later Tom was to experience God acting out His Word in what can only be described as, an amazing and miraculous way.
Tom tells the story with as much excitement as if it were yesterday. He says one of the “old boys” in the club was Milton Kent, he put me out in his own sculling boat (you’re sculling when you have two oars).
Balance is critical when you sit on it not in it.
Treseder continued, “When I returned, he asked me, ‘How would you like it?’ I said, ‘Oh, I like it very much Mr. Kent.’ He then pressed on and said, ‘No, how would you like it?’ It was then I realized that he was giving me, a brand new 15-year-old-Christian, what is today a $10,000 sculling boat.”
His training schedule changed that day to five nights and Saturday; and it has not changed over these last 64 years.
Tom has actually owned three sculling boats and paid for one, so it’s cost a lot of money to keep him on the water – but not on Sunday!
Over the years, there have been a number of opportunities which could have allowed him to represent Australia at the Commonwealth and Olympic Games. Tom says, “I would have liked that!” But it would have meant racing on Sunday.
However, the Lord is no man’s debtor. He has found out that we never lose out when we walk obediently with the strongest, most beautiful and gracious man who ever walked this earth.
Tom sculled for twenty two more years.
Not always smooth water when you marry a lawyer!
He eventually married lawyer Merriel, the girl he admitted he had fired paper pellets at in the school bus.
Their romance almost didn’t get going for when he first called on her she gave him the cold shoulder. He had forgotten he had previously told her sister he thought Merriel was going to the dogs when he saw her one night all dressed up and going to a ball!
She has been a tower of strength through their 53 years of marriage, a real partner. Her love, sacrifice and complimentary gifts have enriched Tom’s ministry and blessed their 4 children, 5 grand children and indeed, all who have the joy of knowing her.
However, their marriage has had its rough spots. Tom would say, “It’s been Merriel’s problem”. It had nothing to do with him trying to make her like him. His coming to the point with the help of the Anglican Counselling Centre, of eventually just accepting her as she is, meant that from then on, he was able to encourage her to be the way God made her, and it changed the atmosphere of their relationship immensely and praise the Lord still does.
He stopped rowing in 1970 so he could better care for his growing family and his industrial design practice.
On the water again at 6.00 am
Then in 1982, after a thirteen year break, on a cold, windy, rainy day, Tom was sculling down the famous Henley rowing course in England and thinking, “I’d love to be doing this again. “
Then Merriel said, “Why don’t you row in the Masters?” (You turn a “master” at 27-years-old and then race in five year increments).
Tom holding up a MegaVoice in the pulpit during a service
Tom couldn’t believe his ears. He checked it out with two close friends. One was Bishop John Reid. He said, “You’re crazy, you’ve just become Director of the Bible Society Australia (NSW) and what about Merriel?” This of course was his major concern for he knew the difficulties the Treseders had faced when previously Tom had been over-committed.
Tom says, after more prayer we decided I would row early each morning and consequently, Merriel sacrificed her morning cup of tea!
So for these last 30 years Tom has been on the water at six am, six days a week.
In 1984, Tom lined up against six international scullers in the picturesque Belgium city of Ghent. The starter in French and English address the scullers and then, with a brisk movement lowered the flag and the race began, and soon Tom hit the front.
Tom recalled, “With 250 meters to go and with not much left in my tank, the German sculler on my left applied extra effort and begun to threaten my lead, then I thought, ‘I’ve come a long way for this and no one’s going to pass me now’ — and they didn’t.
He was for the first time World Champion. It was to be the first of 33 World Gold medals to be draped around his neck. These came in Italy, Sweden, Germany, New Zealand, Scotland as well as several World Masters Games held in Australia. On several occasions Merriel has rudely suggested she could make wind chimes out of all Tom’s medals.
There’s no doubt the Lord greatly honoured Tom’s obedience back there as a 15 year old.
“God is no man’s debtor”.
“He that honours me I will honour”.
At the height of his highly recognised industrial design career, Tom said that he was “led” to accept the invitation to lead the interdenominational ministry of Scripture Union, and Interschool Christian Fellowship in New South Wales, Australia.
He later became State Director of Bible Society in Australia (NSW-ACT) and under God’s good hand, Tom saw Bible Society grow in its partnership role with the church in Australia and around the world.
An evangelist at heart, Tom has always been inspired by what is best known as “The Great Commission.”
It is a slogan taken from the words of Jesus when he said, “Take the Good News to everyone everywhere” or perhaps a better known passage is one which the Lord Jesus told those who love and follow him – “make disciples of every nation”. To achieve this goal the church through the centuries has been committed to the translation and publication of the written Scriptures.
However, throughout history in every country, many people could not read, so countless millions have missed out. Our forefathers have used a wide range of mediums to teach and present the Bible’s truths. They used art, painting, sculptures, stained glass, embroidery all with the purpose of teaching the Bible to those who cannot or do not read.
Today 1.3 billion people in the world are illiterate. The blind have never had a Bible that is as convenient as the ones sighted people have had for over 500 years. In fact, most blind people are non literate. Gutenberg’s wonderful Bible in 1555 and all printed ones since have not touched multiplied millions who cannot or choose not to read. Many are what Tom calls “oral preference learners and oral preference communicators.”
The blind and visually impaired are just one segment of the above 1.3 billion.
Tom Treseder said that the Lord laid on his heart the need to provide His Word to these people and all who cannot or do not read. He asked the Lord if the Lord and he could design a Bible not only for those who can and do read, but a Bible for those who cant or don’t read. One for everyone!! One that EVERYONE can “hear the Word of the Lord.”
A Bible like no other
It needed to be water, sand and vermin proof, lightweight yet robust, low cost, and easy to operate by the blind, aged and handicapped, able to hold any life enriching message but especially the Bible and be powered by some means apart from mains power because most people in the world do not have a power point. And the message needed to be secure so God’s Word could not be tampered with or destroyed!
The Impossible Becomes Possible
So Tom’s prayers were certainly in line with this challenge and would be seen by many as impossible. Sadly, some people said so.
It was a prayer for something that as yet did not exist, but he could see it. Tom has always been impressed by the statement attributed to Robert Kennedy – “Some people see things as they are and say why, I see things that never were and say why not.”
Yet again he was stimulated by the promises in the Bible, particularly one that says “With man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible” Matthew 19:26.
He says he was inspired by talking dolls and Mazda cars that say, “Shut the door.” These 10 second messages are stored on a piece of rock, or more accurately, silicon chip.
He thought, if he could put two of these chips together he could get 20 seconds, 3 and get 30 seconds and so on. It was biscuit layered construction. It wasn’t rocket science, it had just never been done before. His electronic colleagues like business man, David Jamieson said “it’s do-able just needs to be done with others who have a good measure of faith and vision”.
It was 1988 and Bible Society looking at Tom’s sketches, felt at that time they ought not invest in this dream so Tom needed to find others.
He was led to meet Ken Crowell, an American who had set up an electronics company on the shores of the Sea of Galilee in Israel.
They both attended the second Lausanne Congress in Manila in 1989 and their daily meetings there welded their hearts together.
They were from the point of belief that they could design a Bible which could be heard by everyone in the world. That even meant the blind and visually impaired, a great mass of people who have never had a Bible they could hold and as noted earlier, one which is as convenient as the printed one sighted people have had for over 500 years.
On reflection, the 1974 Lausanne Congress on World Evangelisation was a defining point in Tom’s ministry.
Even the congress theme has marked his life and as with MegaVoice, has proven to be prophetic.
“Let the whole world Hear His voice”
Ken Crowell quickly saw the possibility of eventually being able to store the whole Bible on a silicon chip. Tom says, “We reminded ourselves of the fact that ‘there’s nothing new under the sun’ and we were simply using the same material that Moses had used for the very first books – ‘tablets of stone.’”
With other electronic engineers they stored and heard messages that were 30, then 60 seconds long, then 5, 30 and 60 minutes.
“It was exciting to hear God’s Word coming out of an incredibly small piece of rock,” he says. “Again we reminded the MegaVoice team of a statement of Jesus when he said, referring to his disciples, “I tell you if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
So, by God’s enabling and giving skill and innovative flair, our MegaVoice team now can store an amazing 320 hours of high quality speech and music in any language and dialect in the world.
320 hours stores four complete Bibles and/or whole Bible training courses.
Being solar powered means people do not have to continually find and buy an endless supply of expensive batteries. People can listen anywhere, at any time for as long as they wish, absolutely free.
At the touch of a few buttons the listener can quickly find a book, a chapter or a verse. There’s also a book mark and volume control. It also means that with ear buds people can listen in privacy which is essential in restricted countries.
Furthermore with its special internal, powerful speaker, 50 or more people can listen with ease. When people want hundreds or even thousands to hear they simply plug in an amplified speaker. There really is no limit apart from lack of imagination, to what Christians can do with these MegaVoice Scriptures, to, “let the whole world hear His voice.”
Loading MegaVoice Bibles anywhere in the world
With a simple MegaVoice proprietary system, any church, Bible or Theological College, Bible translator, Missionary, Evangelistic organisation or Christian aid agency can load messages onto the MegaVoice products anywhere in the world – their own messages, audio material from the web, from other sources or direct from the extensive MegaVoice Audio Scripture Library.
Any church, mission etc. can load and produce a whole MegaVoice Bible in an amazing, 68 seconds.
Through partnership with Campus Crusade, Global Recordings Network, Audio Scriptures International, Wycliffe/SIL, Faith Comes by Hearing, The United Bible Societies and others, Christians can access through the MegaVoice library, over 15,000 audio Scriptures in over 6,300 languages and dialects.
With these compact, handheld MegaVoice audio Bibles, Christians are breaking through barriers which have blocked or restricted the spread of the gospel for years.
A first for world’s blind
Tom says, we have designed these Bibles to be easy to operate even by the blind, disabled and aged, people who in the past have often missed out. Never before have blind people had a Bible they can fit in their pocket or purse.
Once again the MegaVoice team has seen the Lord work out the promise in Mark 9:23 – “All things are possible to him who believes.”
With these miraculous Biblical tools, hundreds of the world’s Bible translators are able to greatly accelerate putting their work into the ears of multiplied millions, years before the text is published in printed form for the minority who are readers.
MegaVoice Bibles in Australia
People throughout Australia who need and want a MegaVoice Bible may simply write, text or phone the MegaVoice Media Centre sponsored by their partner, Leading the Way.
At present 16 MegaVoice Media Centres around the globe enable churches and their missions to have immediate assistance and Scripture delivery times are shortened greatly.
Tom says, “The Lord speaks very personally through His Word and with MegaVoice Bibles, all people can now hear what He says in their own language and live daily as He leads.”
Your own MegaVoice Bible rendered accurately and meaningfully, will enable you to learn of the Saviour in a new way and be refreshed as you “Hear the sound of His Words”.
Please contact your closest MegaVoice Media Centre today to order or to make a gift so others may receive and hear the Good News. www.megavoice.com, You can contact Tom at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: This story will soon also be featured in Challenge Magazine, Australia.