Would you like to learn about one of the most embarrassing moments of my life?
As many of you know, this December is the official 30th anniversary of the formation of the Answers in Genesis ministry.
As many of you know, this December is the official 30th anniversary of the formation of the Answers in Genesis ministry. Initially, we called it Creation Science Ministries to get the organization legally set up. But do you know how the name Answers in Genesis came about?
First, one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.
When the three founders—Mark Looy, Mike Zovath, and I—first legally established the ministry (December 27, 1993), a group of families, through their foundation, agreed to help us get the ministry off the ground. They gave us a donation so we could send out a mailing to let people know we were starting this new biblical creation apologetics ministry.
Now, the main creation apologetics book publishing company, Master Books, agreed to let us use their large mailing list for this initial mailing. So we prepared a special letter to mail to everyone on the mailing list. Here are some scans of this letter.
Mark Looy designed the envelope and, despite my objections, insisted that my photo (the same one used in the letter shown) was to be on the front of the envelope. He said that people who recognized me would be more likely to open the envelope. We also set up a PO box at the Florence post office in Northern Kentucky. We used that post office box for our address and marked the form to have all undeliverable mail returned to us. Mark said this would help us clean up the mailing list.
So the letter was mailed out to 130,000 people.
Mally and I, along with our five children, were the first of the three families to move out to Kentucky. We left California with a van and trailer and arrived at our destination on March 4, 1994. The day after we arrived, I went to the post office to check our PO box. There were a number of items in there, including a card from the post office to come in and collect the returned envelopes. We had one of the large PO boxes, so I wondered why I had to go inside to get the returned mail.
The diary I kept during this time had this record:
I walked inside the post office. As soon as I did that, all of the staff working behind the counter suddenly stopped and looked at me and everything went very quiet. One of the post office staff said, “Oh, here he is—this is him.” It was almost like bringing out the trumpets, fanfare, etc. He said there’s some return mail for me. I said, “Oh, really, where do I get it?” He asked, “Well, what are you driving?” I said, “Uh-oh, I have a van.” “Well, that’ll help,” he said. “Just drive around the side.”
I drove around to the side door and met the person who directed me there. He then showed me enormous piles of returned envelopes! No wonder they knew who I was—my photo was on the front of every envelope, and there were 18,000 of these returned pieces. Gulp! We loaded the van up, and for days we had the kids opening them all to send the reusable envelopes (included inside each piece) back to Master Books. But the return mail kept pouring in every day for quite a while!
We found out the publishing company hadn’t kept their mailing list up-to-date, and many of the people we had mailed to had either moved to another address or moved to heaven! That was such an embarrassing situation at the time, but we look back on it now and laugh whenever we talk about it.
The good news is that many people sent in checks to donate to the ministry, and the mailing really did help us establish our own mailing list (which we work diligently to keep up-to-date) and support base for the ministry to grow—and grow, it has. A number of you have been our supporters to this day, and of course, thousands more have joined in supporting this cutting-edge ministry for a time over the past 30 years.
In April 1994, we sent out the first official newsletter of the new ministry—and we didn’t get any returns (or hardly any) this time!
In 1995, we started using the name Answers in Genesis. And there’s a fascinating story as to how the name came about.
As I was traveling around Australia, speaking in the late ’70s and early ’80s, I found that many of the same questions about Genesis kept arising. In 1986, we decided to produce a magazine-style publication with answers to some of these questions. This is the cover and the index of questions answered in the 1986 publication.
Note the title on the cover: “Answers to Some of the Most Asked Questions on Creation/Evolution.” This publication proved so popular, we added more most-asked questions and produced a book titled Answers. Over the years, we added more questions, and the book “evolved” to where it is today as you can see from the photograph below. We have now published a total of five different Answers books with 130 of the most-asked questions people ask today about Genesis and other topics relating to the Bible. They have become the bestselling creation apologetics books in the world. We also produced a series of Answers Books for Kids too.
The “evolution” of the Answersbooks
And the Answers books today
Obviously, we were using the word “answers” a lot. So how did we come up with the name Answers in Genesis?
Well, back in 1986, a series of videos (on VHS tapes) of Dr. Gary Parker and me were filmed and produced in Australia. We called this series Understanding Genesis. I think out of all our video series over the years, this one had the most impact.
While at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), Mark and I ran the very successful Back to Genesis conferences across the nation. I had devised the name Back to Genesis, as I wanted to challenge God’s people to get back to believing Genesis 1–11 as they should. The name came out of the “Relevance of Genesis” talk I gave where I would say, “If we want to understand marriage, we have to go back to Genesis. If we want to understand sin, we have to go back to Genesis to the origin of sin.” And so on.
Now, Mark and I had been thinking of a follow-up seminar to Back to Genesis, which we would have called the Answers Seminar. But this never got off the ground. Still, you can tell we had the word “answers” at the back of our minds.
In November 1993, Master Books contracted separately with me and Dr. Gary Parker and flew us to Akron Baptist in Ohio to record a video series to be sold through Master Books. As a name for this series, we basically combined “Back to Genesis” with the word “answers” and came up with Answers in Genesis.
A month later, once we knew we would be leaving our positions at the Institute for Creation Research, Mark and I realized we couldn’t use the name Back to Genesis since it was specific to ICR. So we brainstormed a name for the new conferences. As Dr. Gary Parker agreed to do conferences with us in the new ministry we would be starting and as we would be working closely with Master Books, we decided to use the name Answers in Genesis for all our major conferences. Our first major conference was held in March 1994 in Denver.
In December 1994, we held our first in-person board meeting with the board members we had chosen. We met in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where our founding board chairman, who later founded Jackson Hole Bible College, pastored and had a camp ministry (Rocky Mountain Ministries). At that meeting, one of our board members suggested a name change from Creation Science Ministries, because the word “science” might make people think we focused on technical, scientific issues. Also, I found that a number of people confused us for Christian Science (a well-known sect), so we agreed we needed a new name. As we discussed this, we decided to adopt the name of the video series, Answers in Genesis, as Genesis 1–11 is the foundation for all doctrine and the rest of the Bible. The answers will always be in Genesis since it is the foundational history for everything.
So in 1995, we introduced the name Answers in Genesis for the first time as the name of the ministry.
It was in our March 1995 newsletter we introduced the vision for the Creation Museum.
Wow! Look at what God has done 30 years later with the numerous Answers in Genesis outreaches, resources (books, curricula, DVDs, our streaming platform, conferences, etc.), and our two attractions—the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum—the two leading Christian themed attractions in the world.
Estimates from our research indicate AiG directly impacts at least 30 million people a year and tens of millions more indirectly all around the world.
We are “pumping” out information 24 hours a day every day, impacting the hearts and lives of Christians and non-Christians. God has used the AiG ministry to help thousands of families raise up godly offspring. What an impact this ministry has had and is having!
AiG has stood resolutely and unashamedly on God’s Word beginning in Genesis.
And for those who have been with us for the past 30 years, you know that our stand on God’s Word has never wavered! Sadly, many Christian organizations and churches have wavered and softened their stand because of the LGBTQ movement, CRT, abortion arguments, and other movements, but AiG has stood resolutely and unashamedly on God’s Word beginning in Genesis. We also boldly challenge the sexual humanism of our day that is being imposed on the culture by many of our political leaders.
And my promise is that we will continue to stand as we have on the absolute authority of the Word of God. I’ve worked with a number of our staff to set up checks and balances within the organization to, I pray, eliminate the mission drift that has plagued so many Christian institutions.
We have so much to do, so much planned, and so many opportunities that have needs, but we know God will supply what we need at the right time as we honor him in all we do.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.