Why Build an Ark Instead of Giving the Money to the Poor?

by Bodie Hodge on September 23, 2011
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With the announcement of the Ark Encounter, we received numerous letters questioning AiG’s next major project. Bodie Hodge, AiG–U.S., responds to some objections.

Skeptics and some Christians often question Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum about our beliefs. We are used to this kind of questioning, and we expect it because we stand for biblical truth in a world that continues to turn its back on the Word of God. With the announcement of the Ark Encounter several months ago, we received numerous letters questioning AiG’s next major project. These are some of the common objections.

  • Why spend so much on an Ark when starving children could be fed in third-world countries?
  • Why not give the money to a Christian school?
  • Why not spend the money on looking for the Ark?
  • Why not give the money to other ministries?

Certainly some of these are sincere questions and should be addressed. Why not give to the poor? Well, we encourage people to share with those in need, and many Answers in Genesis employees and supporters do. In fact, I love it when Christians stand up and start a ministry to care for the needy because they are passionate about it. One of our ministry’s founders worked for a relief ministry in the 1980’s during the devastating Ethiopian famine. But if Christians give only to the poor, would that negate the need for other giving?

Some Christians give to Christian schools and universities to help keep their doors open, and we encourage such support of Bible-upholding institutions. Some wish to search for Noah’s Ark or give to other ministries, and again, we also encourage that.

But when people say the money donated for the full-size Noah’s Ark should be spent instead on feeding the poor or giving to another cause, they are essentially arguing that no money should be given to building the Ark Encounter. Yet consider the words of the Great Commission given by Jesus Christ.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:18–20)

Taking care of the poor is an important ministry (2 Corinthians 8), but Christ also made it clear that we are to make disciples of all nations.1 One thing that has been lacking in many churches is a strong emphasis on discipleship, and this is especially true in the area of apologetics (i.e., how to defend the faith, including the most-attacked part of the Bible, Genesis). For nearly 200 years, attacks on Genesis chapters 1–11 have been rampant, and parts of the church are just now waking up to this attack. Sadly, this is only after countless people have walked away from the church because they saw the Bible as untrustworthy.

First, the Ark project is about discipleship. It will stand as a monument to the truth of the Bible in Genesis 6–9 and will call the church back to the authority of the Bible from its very first book. As believers learn the importance and trustworthiness of these early chapters, they will have the proper foundation for understanding the biblical worldview. So the Ark will stand to help us and other Christians fulfill the Lord’s command in Matthew 28 to make disciples.

But the Ark is also about evangelism. We want to challenge the secular world and help people realize the authority of the Bible and the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Who are the neediest people of all?

Frankly, we can’t think of a more effective way to share the gospel with many millions of people today than by using an Ark. The Ark of Noah is a picture of salvation, which allows us to share with future visitors that Christ is our modern-day Ark of salvation. People who might not ever attend a church service will be powerfully presented with the gospel message at the Ark, where they will learn about Christ.

A feasibility study predicted that 1.6 million people will visit in the first year alone with hundreds of thousands who will not be Christians. Because so many people will be visiting the Ark each year, this will be a wonderful, unique evangelistic opportunity. In fact, we can think of no more vital project in the world today that will reach out to the very neediest people—those who are heading to a Christ-less eternity.

The Ark Encounter will also bring several thousand jobs to the region (perhaps 900 people alone at the Ark Encounter). With unemployment still at 10% in the state, a job generator like the Ark will be welcome news to many families. In addition, the state and local governments will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue over the Ark’s first ten years, which will help fund health care, libraries, and other services. The Ark Encounter will be an absolute boon to Kentucky and its families.

We point out, too, that the Ark Encounter will be a wholesome, family-friendly attraction, and it will be a great asset to visiting children and adults and to the community as a whole.

As more people become disciples of Christ and are immersed in the Scriptures (understanding and gaining wisdom from them), they too become supporters of Christian schools, the poor, and other ministries.

In their support of the Ark Encounter, should Christians decrease giving to their local church, Christian schools, or ministries that support the impoverished? We hope not. Our hope and prayer is that people will donate above and beyond their normal giving as they reason in their hearts to give (2 Corinthians 9:7).

The Ark Encounter will be a testimony to the world that the Bible is true and therefore the message of the gospel is also true. And as a side note, Christians have an opportunity to be good witnesses to the world by giving cheerfully. In all this, may the world see our love for God, and may His people give God the glory.

To donate to the Ark Encounter or the general ministry, please visit our online donation page.


  1. Why did Jesus tell his apostles to go into all the world and preach the gospel? Why didn't he just tell them to go into all the world and raise money to feed the poor and the needy?" Obviously both are important to the Lord and the story in Acts 6: 1-7 is a perfect example. The apostles appointed certain men to tend to the needs of the widows, but they themselves continued in their proclamation of the gospel. God gives individuals certain gifts and those gifts are to be used accordingly. There are many organizations and individuals that help to take care of the poor and that is wonderful; but there are not too many apologetic ministries and that is obviously what God has called out Answers in Genesis to do.


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