A group called The Ark of Noah Foundation has its sights set on sailing a Noah’s Ark replica of biblical proportion.
The Christian ministry is working to get the ark from where it is now docked in the Netherlands, to Brazil in time to serve as a tourist attraction at the 2016 Paralympics in late summer.
This is not a sure thing. When foundation president David Rivera was interviewed in early May, he said approximately US $6 million in donations were still needed for costs for a barge, tugboat and crew to transport the ark. But a press representative for the group seemed optimistic four days after the interview, announcing that $450,000 of the funds had been raised.
In Genesis, Noah, his family and a remnant of all the world’s animals board a massive ark and are saved from a flood.
“It was a dream made into reality by (Dutch carpenter) Johan Huibers,” explained Ark of Noah Foundation director Herald Janssen. “He got this vision. He saw the floods in the Netherlands in his dream. And he read about Noah’s flood in the book. And with God in his heart, he said, ‘I need to rebuild this,’ which is amazing — such a huge vessel.”
Huibers actually built two replicas: a one-fifth-sized version in 2006, and this full-sized version in 2012. The full size version is approximately 29 metres wide, 125 metres long and 23 metres tall.
When it was completed, the ark became a multi-floor exhibit, focused on the spreading of religious teachings from the bible for Christian educational purposes.
But Janssen said the ark will be getting a face lift before making the rounds.
“Johan built it in a very rustic manner,” Janssen explained. “It’s all wood. It’s classical. It’s original. And, of course, it’s neat to see. But it doesn’t have a true event-spectacle value.”
“So the original intent from Johan to use the ark to portray God’s vision, and God’s hope to mankind, can live on with this true replica. But, now, (we’re) using it with the modern content inside.”
While the 2016 Paralympics in Rio is a destination, it’s not the only one planned for the ark. Janssen’s planned itinerary includes Argentina, Colombia, Cuba and the United States. He also said he expects the ark will attract and inspire more than Christian ticket buyers.
“I’m a believing Christian, but if I go on board, the sheer size of the vessel inside, it encompasses you, it embraces you,” Janssen noted. “And if (Noah), by himself, and with some friends and female friends, helped him to manually build this ark, you can understand that whatever you face in life, you can overcome it and you don’t need to do it alone. So we want to bring them hope, hope that we are there and we want to bring an everlasting hope to the people there in Brazil and all the other nations but also the true eternal hope through God.”
© 2016 Associated Press