I’m sure you’ve noticed I often refer to my father in my articles and other writings. It’s a reminder to me (and I trust to all who read those articles) of the impact parents have on their children. And as you know, in recent times, I’ve been stressing the importance of impacting the younger generations with the truth of God’s Word and the gospel. So many of the younger generations have been captured by the world, and even many of those who were brought up in the church have walked away to travel the broad way of the world.
Over the years and recently, I’ve had many people say something like, “To withstand all the attacks you receive from the world and even many in the church, you must have a very thick hide.” Actually, I started learning to have this so-called thick hide from my parents. My father (and mother) had a phenomenal impact on me concerning their bold, uncompromising stand for God’s Word and their burden to proclaim the gospel to as many as they could.
Now, those who have seen my testimony in the video Fire in My Bones may remember seeing this photo, taken when I was about 12 years old in Australia. We were getting ready for a fancy dress party that the school conducted each year. Yes, that is me behind that ape mask holding a potted plant labeled, “Our Family Tree.” But you have to understand the context. No, I wasn’t promoting evolution—in fact, the opposite. My father saw this as a spoof about evolution.
You see, we were attending a Presbyterian church at the time, and the minister told the congregation from the pulpit that God used evolution. He was an ardent evolutionist. My father was so upset with this, and even though he challenged the minister concerning the truth of God’s Word in Genesis, this minister wouldn’t even consider the possibility that evolution was false. So my father told our family we would not attend that church, and we moved to another. Because this fancy dress party was not long after this church situation, my father took the opportunity to use this spoof to make a public statement against evolution. And I remember at that time in history, many people laughed at the idea that people were supposedly related to apes! They thought it was a ridiculous idea. I have never forgotten my father’s bold stand for the truth of God’s Word, even against this compromising minister of the church.
A few years later after we moved to the city of Brisbane, I distinctly remember two events involving my father and a Baptist church we were attending at the time. Because my father was a teacher and transferred to different towns in the state of Queensland as he was promoted and because there were very few churches, we ended up experiencing a few different denominations, such as Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Brethren. Actually, I believe this gave me great experience to work in a nondenominational ministry as I do today. At this church, they handed out a daily devotional book each month. One month, a devotion was centered around the account of Noah’s flood. However, this devotion stated that Noah’s flood was only a local event. My father was so upset. He told us that teaching it was a local flood was going against God’s Word. He met with the pastor and challenged him to tell the congregation that this devotion was wrong and to teach the people the truth that Noah’s flood was a global event—and the pastor did! But my father was the only one who had complained. Seeing him standing up for God’s Word like this really impacted me.
Then another time at the same church, two gay men began attending church. My father was pleased they were coming and hearing teaching from the Word of God. But when they volunteered to be in the choir, my father immediately met with the pastor and elders. The elders were going to let these two men be in the choir. But my father explained that this would be condoning their anti-God lifestyle to the church. I remember my father saying he had nothing against them attending church and prayed they would hear the truth and change their sinful lifestyle. But he told the pastors and elders they could not let these men participate in the choir or leadership. He used a lot of Scripture to explain this, and eventually, they agreed. Again, I don’t remember anyone else in the church standing as my father did.
I seem to have been involved in such spiritual battles all my life—first with the family God had me brought up in and then in the ministry he called me to.
And my mother always stood with my father and totally supported him. And we as children saw all of this, and it impacted us. In fact, as a result of these two incidents, I remember someone at the church who said, with a smile on his face, something like, “We should call you Merv the Stirrer” (my father’s name was Mervyn). I seem to have been involved in such spiritual battles all my life—first with the family God had me brought up in and then in the ministry he called me to. I could write a book on the many instances where I’ve had battles with church leaders and Christian academics over the years.
For instance, a number of years ago before I spoke at the chapel of a Christian college in Georgia, the president brought me into his office with another staff member and proceeded to dress me down for my stand on Genesis. He told me he didn’t want me there, and it was only because he was told by the board to have me that I was there. He said he didn’t want me giving the message on taking Genesis literally to the students. He then walked me over to the chapel, and I proceeded to address the students with what I had prepared and stood against those who would compromise Genesis. I had to put what the president said out of my mind and teach the truth regardless.
A few years ago, someone at a megachurch in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, had our ministry come to conduct a conference for the church. I was scheduled to speak at the Saturday evening service and then at the Sunday morning services. On Saturday night, I spoke on the importance of Genesis and how all doctrines, including marriage, were founded in Genesis. I gave some detailed teaching on marriage. At the end of the service, the pastor’s assistant immediately ushered me into an office where the pastor was sitting. This pastor then told me I was not to give that message again in his church. He said his congregation did not need that message, and I needed to speak on something totally different for the morning. He was particularly upset with my emphasis on marriage and Genesis. It was an awful, stressful situation. At the time, my wife told me she believed this pastor had a problem in his life concerning his marriage. Our wives can be very discerning! It wasn’t that long after we were at this church that this pastor was removed because of sexual sins and involvement with various women. At the time though, I was really stressed, but I still stood my ground! When I’m in such circumstances, I often think about what my father would do—and I know he would stay true to his convictions on the Word of God and not be swayed by attacks from others.
Well, as I said, I could write a book full of such examples from my upbringing and over 40 years in ministry. My parents’ example to us, and others in the churches they attended, to stand boldly and uncompromisingly on the Word of God, lives on with even greater impact in the ministry of Answers in Genesis, the Ark Encounter, and the Creation Museum. As you know, we boldly present the truth of the Bible and the gospel message.
Christianity is based in history, so it’s vital we communicate to the younger generations that God’s history book is true and the gospel and Christian doctrines based in that history are true.
I trust you can now understand even more why I have such a burden to reach the younger generations and help parents disciple their children. It’s why we decided admission for kids 10 and under was to be free at the Ark and Creation Museum. And in this time we live in, there’s been an incredible attack on the Bible as true history. Christianity is based in history, so it’s vital we communicate to the younger generations that God’s history book is true and the gospel and Christian doctrines based in that history are true. I often consider the ministries of AiG, the Ark, and the Creation Museum that directly impact over 30 million people a year and indirectly tens of millions of others, and I praise God for his miraculous hand in making this possible. Yes, we’ve had our detractors from the world and the church, and we’ve had many difficult times and battles, but we’ve stood our ground! How I praise the Lord for parents who taught me to stand like this.
One of the great advantages of our two attractions, the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum, is that many families who aren’t necessarily getting the teaching and equipping they need at their churches (some do, but such churches are a minority) come and are impacted by all the powerful exhibits at these world-class facilities. Also, our research indicates that 30% of those who visit admit they are non-Christians. A big emphasis through all the exhibits is that the history in Genesis is true. But we’ve also been adding exhibits to help people understand the context of the history into which God’s Son came to be the God-man and our Savior. We really want people of all ages to understand who Jesus is, why he came to earth, why he taught what he did, and what he did for us to save us for eternity.
Right now, we are working on what will be one of the biggest indoor models of Jerusalem in the world. We will use this at the Ark Encounter attraction to give powerful teaching about Jesus and the gospel. It’s one thing to design and fabricate such a model with all that teaching, but quite another to be able to house it! Our talented designers worked countless hours to come up with the best way to construct a building for this unique and powerful exhibit.
At the same time, as part of the master plan to accommodate future attractions at the Ark Encounter, we needed to plan for a welcome center with a new shuttle loading and unloading area where guests would arrive from the parking lot. And the likely next big attraction would be the tower of Babel, where we would teach about the true origins of people groups and nations and deal with racism, prejudice, etc., from a biblical worldview perspective. Our designers, in conjunction with engineers and others, came up with an efficient plan to incorporate the building for the Jerusalem model as a part of the Welcome Center at the Ark.
As I announced last month, our end-of-year campaign to fund this combined Jerusalem model building and Welcome Center is $20 million, and we’ve already been provided with an $8.5 million matching gift commitment by a family foundation and another supporter! That means every dollar donated to this project through the end of this year will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $8.5 million.
Thank you for your prayers and support to help us make the Ark Encounter attraction even more powerful to reach more people with the truth about Jesus. That’s what it’s all about.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.