By Tom Treseder
World Champion sculler with 33 Masters gold medals found the ultimate reward in his life
Without any debate, argument or discussion, I can categorically say that the greatest sport of all time and in this present day is rowing.
It was incredibly thrilling as a skinny, thirteen year old to sit in the stern of a racing eight and be propelled across glassy water at around 20 KPH. Then as I grew taller, heavier and stronger, I felt the excitement of ripping the blade through the water in unison with seven others who were equally determined to gain a gold medal at the end of each 2000 metre race.
Coupled with the success came popularity, recognition by older people and a sense of achievement. Yet, in my less exciting moments there was an inner emptiness, a ‘lostness’, a vacuum and somehow I longed for that to be filled.
My legs had become fit and strong through the many hours of training, yet I’m sitting in church unable to stand. The minister had invited those willing to receive Jesus Christ as their Saviour to stand, walk to the front of the church and kneel at the communion rail.
Initially, I resisted, such a decision might cost me too much, my legs would not work. Then God gave me the strength to stand and walk and respond to His claim upon my life. I understood that He is my Creator and that He was punished for my rebellion against God.
From that moment my life was dramatically changed. I was spiritually-speaking “born again.” Jesus Christ had claimed me and I now wanted to please Him.
Within a few weeks I felt uncomfortable about training on His day, Sunday. But if I didn’t row on Sundays it would interrupt all the other crew members — in fact I would not be selected, I would not be an Olympian, I would not be able to win gold, I would not become a world champion, I faced the end of my rowing career.
Two verses in the Bible stood out to me during these days of struggle. “ ‘He that honours me I will honour,’ says the Lord.” And then a great verse from Philippians 4:19: “My God will supply all your needs, according to His riches in Christ Jesus.”
These verses helped me say to the Lord, “Yes, I will stop rowing on your special day even though it can mean the end of my rowing career.”
Within two weeks one of the “clubs master rowers” put me out in his own private sculling boat. (Sculling is when you have two oars.) When I returned he said, “How would you like it?” I could not believe my ears. Here I was, a fifteen year old, new Christian, just determined to be obedient to an inner conviction and being given a beautiful, sleek, $11,500, cedar sculling boat. What a way for God to meet my needs.
My training schedule changed to five nights and Saturday and has remained that way till today, 64 years later.
My conviction did keep me from competing at the Olympics and World championships, however over these past 30 years, I have gained gold medals for 33 World Masters Championships. Whilst the Lord does not promise gold medals, He does promise to honour us when we honour Him and this is one way He has done it in my life.
During my early years of walking with the Lord we gathered together other Christian sportsmen and women and formed the Christian Sports Fellowship, embarking on a program of evangelism to the youth of Australia. We wanted others to hear of and come to love the Lord Jesus too.
Now the determination and drive to succeed and overcome seemingly impossible barriers to reach my goals is paying off in other ways. The Lord has enabled me to invent and with other colleagues design the world’s first, single piece, solar powered audio Bible of up to 320 hours of content.
These beautiful, compact, hand held units, are now taking the Good News of Jesus to people in over 160 countries. Being in audio form means that for the first time in history, everyone can hear the Word of the Lord. Never before has there been for all blind people a Bible which is actually more personal, flexible, and more convenient, than those sighted people have had, for 558 years.
Called MegaVoice, these Bibles are bringing the message of eternal life “To the ends of the earth” in 4,600 languages and dialects.
It is that same message which changed my life in church, back on my 15th birthday those years ago.
For more information visit www.megavoice.com