How God Worked to Bring the Ark Project to Life

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The evangelistic life-size Ark is opening July 7, 2016 in Northern Kentucky (south of Cincinnati)! There is much to share with you regarding how this huge project came about.

It’s absolutely amazing as you look back on AiG’s history.

The following is an account of God’s providence and miraculous intervention. It’s absolutely amazing as you look back on AiG’s history. Yes, truly He is the “God who does wonders” (Psalm 77:14).

In 1953, when I was two years old (the same year a girl named Mally was born, who grew up to work as a bank teller and became my wife), an event occurred in Indiana. In God’s providence, it began a series of events that impacted the world in countless ways.

A hydraulics engineer, Dr. Henry Morris, had presented a paper dealing with evidence for the global Flood of Noah’s day. In the audience was the Professor of Old Testament at Grace Theological Seminary in Indiana, John Whitcomb.

The paper so motivated John Whitcomb that he spent four years writing a doctoral dissertation on Noah’s global Flood, which was completed in 1957. Dr. Morris and Dr. Whitcomb agreed to coauthor a book titled The Genesis Flood, published in 1961. In many ways, this book really started the modern biblical creationist movement—a movement to challenge the church to return to the authority of the Word of God beginning in Genesis.

In 1974, during my final year of university training to be a public school science teacher, the principal of the Teacher’s College in Brisbane, Australia (Mr. Gordon Jones) knew of my interest and burden in the topic of creation/evolution and the book of Genesis.

This intense interest was in large part due to the stand my parents took on the authority of the Word of God. My father, who was a public school principal, taught me to recognize compromise regarding God’s Word and the need to know how to answer those skeptics who would attack the Bible with their mocking questions and false claims. My godly mother also taught us God’s Word and prayed for us every day.

Gordon told me about a book on Noah’s Flood that had been published in America. I visited the Christian bookstore in Brisbane, the Gospel Book Depot, and asked about this book. The manager John Spall had a copy of The Genesis Flood and I purchased it. (I found out many years later from John’s wife that he had an intense burden from the Lord to have that book available in his store.) This book, along with some other resources I picked up, had a profound influence on my life and on the ministry God called me to.

In 1977, I met Andrew Snelling in Sydney, Australia. He was studying for his PhD in geology. Dr. Snelling started working with us in the creation ministry in Australia in 1983 and is now director of research for Answers in Genesis–US. Dr. Snelling has written the most up-to-date creationist geology books and articles available and he is overseeing the geological content for the Ark exhibits.

In 1987, Mally and I and our four children (we now have five children and fourteen grandchildren) moved to the USA to work under Dr. Henry Morris at ICR. I was there for seven years.

Backing up a bit and sharing more about coming to America, I wanted to mention that in 1981, while on a speaking tour of the USA, I was interviewed by Mark Looy at a Christian radio station. Interestingly, Mark was born in Sydney, Australia, but moved to the USA when he was six. As a teen, he was struggling over his new-found faith because he had been “evolutionized” in public schools and through the media. But after hearing a presentation by Dr. Duane Gish, who had just joined Dr. Henry Morris at the brand-new ministry of ICR in the San Diego area, Mark became on fire for his faith.

In 1985, while visiting Brisbane, I met Paul Salmon (a missionary kid born in Kenya) who later that year began working for the Australian ministry that had started in our home in 1977. In 2014, Paul became the executive director of operations at Answers in Genesis–US, helping to oversee operations of the Creation Museum and future Ark Encounter.

In 1987, I recommended to ICR’s business manager that Mark Looy join me to run ICR’s Back to Genesis seminars across the nation and to produce ICR’s two radio programs.

In 1992, I met Mike Zovath, who had just retired from the US Army as a Lieutenant Colonel. He came to ICR in early 1993 to help Mark and me run the popular family conferences.

In late 1993, Mark, Mike, and I set up a legal entity for what became Answers in Genesis. Then in 1994, our families moved to the Northern Kentucky area (near Cincinnati) to start the AiG ministry. We had the express purpose of building a Creation Museum (within a day’s drive of almost 2/3 of Americans). Building a Bible-upholding museum was a burden I had since the 1970s in Australia.

In 1995, I spoke at a homeschool conference in Indianapolis, just an hour after receiving word my father had passed away in Australia. Joe Boone and his family attended that conference—and it changed their lives as they became on-fire Christians. Later, through a series of circumstances in his life, Joe moved here to become the director of advancement at AiG and has been integral in spearheading the fundraising for the Ark project. Joe is a former CPA who once owned a business building fire trucks.

When I returned to Australia after my father had passed away, my mother presented me with a model of Noah’s Ark my father had built for me because of his love for God’s Word and the biblical creation apologetics ministry I was involved in. He did not know, of course, that we would build a Creation Museum and open it in 2007 and then in 2016 open a life-size Ark. (That model Ark is on display in a small exhibit inside the Creation Museum.)

Legacy Ark Model

In 2000, we held a dedication service for the land where the Creation Museum was to be built (near Cincinnati, in Petersburg, Kentucky). Dr. John Whitcomb, coauthor of The Genesis Flood, was present and he prayed that the Lord would greatly bless the project.

Twelve years later, AiG held a dedication service on 800 acres of land in Williamstown, Kentucky, for the future life-size Ark. Once again, Dr. Whitcomb was present, and he gave the prayer of dedication and presented a powerful message on the importance of believing God’s Word in Genesis concerning Creation, the Flood, and so on.

Dr. John Whitcomb at the dedication of the land for the Ark Encounter, June 22, 2012.

In 2001, we received a letter from Patrick Marsh in Japan, who had worked for Universal Studios, the Los Angeles Olympic Games, and various theme parks. While working in Japan, he had heard about the Creation Museum project and wrote to us of his burden to come back to America and design our exhibits.

The amazingly diverse talents, the varied personal journeys of the staff . . . are testaments to God’s hand in blessing this ministry.

Patrick continues to head up our design team and is the visionary behind the exhibits at the Creation Museum and now the Ark Encounter. Because of Patrick’s vision, many other very talented artists of varying skills have joined the Answers in Genesis design team.

There is much involved in building an Ark, of course. So many others have participated. The amazingly diverse talents, the varied personal journeys of the staff who came from long distances from across the USA and around the globe to join our ministry or become volunteers are testaments to God’s hand in blessing this ministry. AiG has about 360 staff, plus several hundred volunteers who have been involved in various aspects of the ministry.

Who would have even thought that the Lord would involve:

  • a hydraulics engineer in America
  • a theologian in Indiana
  • a public school principal in Australia
  • a mother whose parents moved from Northern Ireland to farm sugar cane in Queensland, Australia
  • a public school science teacher from Australia
  • a wife who trained as a bank teller
  • a teacher’s college principal in Australia
  • the manager of a Christian bookstore in Brisbane
  • a geologist from Sydney
  • a radio announcer born in Australia who grew up in America
  • a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army
  • a designer who worked with Universal Studios
  • a CPA who built fire trucks
  • a missionary kid born in Kenya
  • and hundreds of others currently involved at AiG who can testify to the miracles seen in a ministry that is impacting the world with the message of God’s Word and the gospel in a major way!

We believe the life-size Ark will be one of the greatest Christian outreaches of our day, with up to 2 million people each year being impacted with the truth of God’s Word and the gospel. The Creation Museum and all the other outreaches of the Answers in Genesis ministry (including a website reaching 25 million unique visitors a year) is already impacting millions upon millions around the world.

From a human perspective, for all these outreaches to happen and to see all these staff members come together seems impossible. But I’m reminded that “the things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).

Truly we see the providence of God and His miraculous hand in all these blessings. Let’s face it: from a human perspective, we would have never brought such a group together for such tasks. But that’s what God did, and look what’s happened!

Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Whitcomb (now 91) at the Ark construction site. What an awesome opportunity it was! You can also watch this short interview video at AnswersInGenesis.org/go/whitcomb/.

At our November 12 press conference at the Ark construction site, where we announced the opening date of the Ark Encounter, Dr. Whitcomb was in attendance and read a section of Genesis 7 (about the Flood). I had our photographer take a photo of the both of us in front of the Ark structure!

I will so treasure this photo, and I want to share it with you. So, for any donation of $20 or more that you make before December 31, 2015 to support both our core ministry and the Ark project, we will send you this special photo of Dr. Whitcomb and me at the Ark site, with a magnetic back (to display on your refrigerator or elsewhere). It will not only be a reminder of God’s providence and miraculous hand in the AiG ministry, but a reminder to pray for the Ark Encounter—what we believe will be one of the greatest evangelistic outreaches of our day!

Your gift today to both the core ministry and the Ark Encounter will be a great blessing to support all the vital outreaches of AiG and help finish building the life-size Ark! You can make a gift to the core ministry and the Ark online and write “Whitcomb photo” in the comments box to receive your photo magnet of Dr. Whitcomb and me.

And remember: all donations to the Ark Encounter will be matched dollar-for-dollar through December 31, up to $2 million!

Thank you for being a part of the Lord’s incredible work at Answers in Genesis and the coming Ark Encounter!

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