Ark Encounter—A Great Evangelistic Outreach

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The last part of July was a very interesting week here! After years of prayer, numerous battles, and lots of hard work—they all came together, and we are now starting construction of the evangelistic Ark Encounter project! Here’s a summary of what’s taken place in regard to the building of this exciting outreach to millions of souls:

  • Our battle to obtain a federal permit (which had been holding up construction for over a year) finally came through!
  • The Tourism Board of Kentucky granted preliminary approval for the possibility of receiving a refund of sales tax (which is performance based) at the completed Ark Encounter; if the Ark attendance is strong and tourism dollars flow into the state, then a refund of sales tax collected from guests in the park will be granted.
  • The complex architectural and engineering work had been completed, and meetings are now going ahead with contractors to let bids.

Now, at the same time all these tasks were being carried out recently, the AiG ministry (and it should come as no surprise) came under a number of massive attacks. I’ve seen it over and over again in ministry as we step out in faith with new outreaches. Just when we get through a series of struggles to move a project ahead, the devil orchestrates even more battles in an attempt to undermine the future outreach!

This time with the Ark project, it felt like déjà vu. You see, you will probably remember the many battles (and the media wars that ensued) back in the 1990s when it was becoming obvious the Creation Museum project was actually moving ahead.

Back then, and as I’ve quoted many times, I cited the verse: “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:20).

When you think about the fact that the Ark Encounter will be one of the greatest evangelistic outreaches of our time, it’s no wonder AiG has come under attack again.

I wanted to give you a snapshot of what happened in the span of just one week alone recently, some of it Ark related and some not:

  1. I published a short blog post in response to NASA’s claim that its researchers would find intelligent alien life within 20 years. I stated that I did not believe there were any aliens, and gave, among other reasons, a theological reason why (and related it to the gospel). Well, an atheist blogged a headline claiming I had said, “We Should Stop Exploring Space Because the Bible Says Aliens Would Go to Hell.”

    This false claim then went viral across the Internet and was even published in secular media newspapers! The “urban myth” grew legs, and new headlines (also false) appeared, such as, “Ken Ham Wants to Defund NASA Because All Aliens Don’t Go to Heaven.” Well, at least it all gave us a lot of publicity!

    I continue to encourage Christians not to trust everything they read on the Internet or in newspapers!

    Sadly, we even had some Christians contact us to blast me for supposedly saying that we should defund NASA because aliens were going to hell! I continue to encourage Christians not to trust everything they read on the Internet or in newspapers! On many occasions recently, we have had to remind Christians of the teaching, “He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him” (Proverbs 18:13).

  2. Again in the same week, atheist God-hater Bill Maher also spread false information about AiG and me (which has been ongoing). During a segment on his HBO TV program featuring Neil deGrasse Tyson of Cosmos fame, Maher said, “Creationist Ken Ham who runs the Creation Museum . . . said this week that we should call off the search for extraterrestrial life because aliens haven’t heard the word of Jesus and thus are going to hell anyway.”

    He then had astronomer Tyson respond, who simply stated “that’s messed up.” The comment “that’s messed up” also went viral, stimulating more attacks (and further dissemination of false statements) on AiG and me personally!

  3. In applying for the Kentucky tourism incentive that I mentioned above (the state offers proposed tourist attractions the possibility of receiving a future refund of state sales tax collected at such venues if they are successful), the Ark Encounter was met with a firestorm of criticism. When the state granted preliminary approval, the attacks increased in ferocity.

    This opposition became headlines in newspapers, editorials, online news outlets, atheist blogs, and our regional TV and radio news stations! Sadly, many false accusations were spread widely by people who claimed the ridiculous notion that this incentive would mean taxpayers’ money would be used to build the Ark! Secularists launched a PR war as they did their best to denigrate the Ark project. We spent a lot of time responding to media requests and correcting this misinformation.

  4. A highly prominent politician, the Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo, attacked the Ark project over the state’s performance-based tourism tax refund. He wrongly claimed it was unconstitutional to grant the Ark project incentives. In his comments, he basically encouraged lawsuits against the Ark Encounter. Thankfully, the state representative for the county where the Ark Encounter is being constructed responded publicly against Mr. Stumbo’s false accusations and defended the project—including the constitutionality of the sales tax refund incentive.

Ironically during that same week, some of your tax dollars were also used to attack the Ark project and spread misinformation.

On the National Public Radio (NPR) website, this broadcast entity attacked the Ark Encounter. Just as with many atheist bloggers and various secular media outlets that spread false statements about the project, the NPR web article had this headline: “Kentucky Buoys Noah's Ark Park With Millions In New Tax Breaks.”

Kentucky is not “buoying up” the Ark’s construction.

As you know, the Ark project is being built by donations, memberships (boarding passes), and funds from a bond offering! Kentucky is not “buoying up” the Ark’s construction. The state is not giving “tax breaks” to build the Ark, but is offering a performance-based sales tax refund. The refund is on sales tax paid within the park once it is opened! This incentive is available to all tourist ventures that will bring tourist dollars into the state.

NPR states that its “revenue comes primarily from fees paid by member stations, contributions from corporate sponsors, institutional foundation grants, gifts from major donors, and fees paid by users of the Public Radio Satellite System. We receive no direct federal funding for operations.”

That last part of that statement, however, is misleading! Note the words “no direct federal funding.” NPR does receive indirect federal funding, in the form of competitive grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation established and funded by Congress (through your federal tax dollars).

I must admit: I just shook my head when I read the NPR attack against the Ark Encounter on its website. I also noted this statement on the NPR site that describes its function:

Great storytelling and rigorous reporting . . . Our products are unbiased and independent information, perspectives, and entertainment . . . the American people deserve to be able to get the news from an organization whose only agenda is to inform and enlighten.

So “rigorous reporting . . . unbiased . . . only agenda is to inform and enlighten”? The NPR site also states that its stories are “well-reported . . . [and they] approach differences . . . with intelligence, thoughtfulness.” Well, except when it comes to a Christian organization like ours!

Such media and other attacks on the AiG ministry have become a daily occurrence. The attacks have greatly intensified as the actual construction of the Ark project has begun in earnest. We expect many more to come—and AiG obviously needs your prayers.

Think about it. About 2.25 million adults, teens, and children have already visited the Creation Museum and countless people have been greatly impacted by the museum’s biblical messages, including the gospel. Over the years, secularists launched vicious attacks against the museum. They will increase, as the full-size Noah’s Ark, when it opens in 2016, is estimated to attract up to 2 million visitors a year—and Creation Museum attendance should double!

I believe the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum will be two of the most powerful evangelistic outreaches in the world today! What an incredible one-two punch they will be!

Around 60% of those visiting the Ark will be unchurched!

How many other centers are boldly, unashamedly, and uncompromisingly standing on God’s Word? Defending our faith against the attacks of our day? Equipping Christians of all ages with answers? Challenging non-Christians with the truth of God’s Word and the saving gospel? And will be attracting 2.5 million combined visitors a year? According to our research, around 60% of those visiting the Ark will be unchurched!

If you are looking to invest time, prayer, and finances in a Christian ministry and see a great spiritual return, I believe the evangelistic Ark is a great Kingdom investment opportunity!

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