“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you… 2) By which also ye are SAVED, IF YE KEEP IN MEMORY what I
preached unto you,” 1Cor. 15:1-2
The reputation of the Waldensian Christians of the Piedmont valleys of Italy is as inspirational as it is legendary. They were mighty in the Scriptures, fearless as evangelists and unrivaled in bravery, tact and wisdom in sharing the Gospel in dangerous times. One author writes:
“…[O]f those who resisted the encroachments of the
papal power, the Waldenses stood foremost. In the very land where popery had fixed its seat, there its falsehood and corruption were most steadfastly resisted.
The Waldenses were among the first of the peoples of Europe to obtain a translation of the Holy Scriptures. Hundreds of years before the Reformation they possessed the Bible in manuscript in their native tongue. They had the truth unadulterated, and THIS rendered them the special objects of hatred and persecution. They declared the Church of Rome to be the apostate Babylon of the Apocalypse, and at the peril of their lives they stood up to resist her corruptions.” 1
These Waldensian Christians were known for their simple, holy living marked by supreme reverence –and extensive memorization—of the Word of God.
“Pure, simple, and fervent was the piety of these followers of Christ. The principles of truth they VALUED above houses and lands, friends, kindred, even life itself. These principles they earnestly sought to impress upon the hearts of the young. From earliest childhood the youth were instructed in the Scriptures and taught to regard sacredly the claims of the law of God. Copies of the Bible were rare; therefore its precious words were COMMITTED TO MEMORY. Many were able to repeat large portions of both the Old and the New Testament. Thoughts of God were associated alike with the sublime scenery of nature and with the humble blessings of daily life.”2 “The Gospels of MATTHEW and JOHN were COMMITTED TO MEMORY, with many of the Epistles.” 3
A popular Bible Encyclopedia makes a greater claim.
“One great feat of the Waldenses was their ability to memorize the entire New Testament and part of the Old Testament. Not only did they memorize the New Testament but they were instructed in Latin, Romane and Italian.”4
It is commonly claimed that it takes 3-6 years to memorize the entire book of 77,437 words. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of Muslims have memorized the entire Qur’an, some claim that the number of huffaz is actually in the millions.
But there ARE present day Waldenses who have committed large portions of Scripture to memory. Tom Meyer, a member of Wordsower International Ministries and a professor at Shasta Bible College in California is known for quoting entire books of the Bible from memory verbatim. “In May 2014, Meyer teamed up with fellow Wordsower member Jason Nightingale to recite BOOKS of the Bible for 24 hours straight.”6
Others have conquered the complete New Testament (181,253 words in KJV). Nadine Hammonds of Memphis Tennessee has been honored for this accomplishment on CNN, The Paul Harvey radio program, and the National Bible Association.
On the Late Massacre in Piemont
AVENGE, O Lord, thy slaughtered Saints, whose bones
Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold;
Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old,
When all our fathers worshiped stocks and stones,
Forget not: in thy book record their groans
Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold
Slain by the bloody Piemontese, that rolled
Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans
The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
To heaven. Their martyred blood and ashes sow
O’er all the Italian fields, where still doth sway
The triple Tyrant; that from these may grow
A hundredfold, who, having learnt thy way,
Early may fly the Babylonian woe.
John Milton (1608-1674)
This famous poem honors the Waldenses who suffered so much at the hands of Rome for being champions of God’s Word.
“Picture in your mind a woman who has memorized the New Testament-- yes, all of it, all 260 chapters -- every word… Nadine is sightless and has been since birth… Listening to tapes doesn't work for Nadine. She says with tapes, you have to listen then rewind, listen then rewind. "You'd wear out a set of tapes in no time doing that," she says… "I've worn out a whole set of Braille New Testaments in the past few years," says Nadine. "I'm on my second set." "There really isn't a trick to memorizing Scripture. It's just work. I love a challenge. You do have to have a certain mind-set, and you have to concentrate." 6
Our dear Brothers and Sisters, we are none too careful with our TIME. We must stop making excuses, gather up the moments and become modern day Waldenses. Inspiration urges us to perform this sacred duty of writing God’s Word in our mind.
“Keep a pocket Bible with you as you work, and improve every opportunity to COMMIT TO MEMORY its precious promises.” RH April 27, 1905. “God's precious Word is the standard for youth who would be loyal to the King of heaven. Let them study the Scriptures. Let them COMMIT TEXT AFTER TEXT to MEMORY and acquire a knowledge of what the Lord has said.” ML 315
"Build a WALL OF SCRIPTURES around you, and you will see that the world cannot break it down. Commit the Scriptures to memory, and then THROW RIGHT BACK UPON SATAN when he comes with his temptations, ‘It is written.’ THIS is the way that our Lord met the temptations of Satan, and resisted them.” RH April 10, 1888.
“The time will come when many will be deprived of the written Word. But if this Word is PRINTED IN THE MEMORY, no one can take it from us.” LDE 67
May God bless your efforts to embrace this challenge.