“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was incorrect about the age of the earth, and you corrected me; I was mistaken in my interpretation of Genesis and you turned me around; I was in need of visiting a life-size replica of Noah’s ark, and you raised $70 million and built it for me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you incorrect about the age of the earth and correct you, or mistaken in your interpretation of Genesis and turn you around? And when did we see you in need of visiting a life-size replica of Noah’s ark, and raise $70 million and build it for you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ — Matthew 25:31-40 (YEC Version)
Last night, Ken Ham appeared during a live Internet broadcast on one of his many websites to provide an “update” on the Ark Encounter, a planned scale replica of Noah’s ark, to be constructed according to the biblical instructions in Genesis (except this one will be built by teams of modern-day professionals rather than a single, unskilled old man, won’t be seaworthy and won’t hold two of every unclean animal and 14 of every clean one).
Predictably, Ham did not provide “updates” on anything that most people really cared to know about. He did not, for example, share how much his various ministries had actually raised to build the monstrosity, or how short he and his development team fell in their $62 million bond sale effort.
All we know for sure is that Ham and AiG had collected $14.4 million from private donations prior to the bond sale, and that last night, they announced — rather cryptically — that they had raised “enough to begin construction” on the first phase. My suspicion is that this means they have not raised enough to actually complete the phase, but for whatever reason, they feel confident enough to break ground anyway.
Despite Jesus’ fairly explicit warning against doing just that, we understand that Ham and co. believe they receive special guidance from the Holy Spirit, guidance that is so clear that it apparently supersedes anything else.
I’ll be honest with you: As a Christian, this kind of absurd, profligate waste (by an organization that purports to serve Christ, no less) absolutely disgusts me. And I’d be willing to bet anything that it disgusts God, too. That’s because I believe God has revealed his heart to us in scripture, and it is for the poor, the lost, the blind and the oppressed.
On the other hand, there is no passage in scripture that could be construed as a command for anyone to build a theme park centered around a useless boat that is about as capable of braving the high seas as the Taj Mahal, or to spend a fortune reinforcing the demonstrably false scientific beliefs of conservative Christians in Appalachia, while billions the world over go to bed hungry every single night.
For the purposes of illustration, I’m going to presume that AiG’s legions of fans and supporters come through for them, and they do raise enough to complete this project’s first phase — an amount estimated to be in the neighborhood of $70 million. So, this morning, I did some Googling around on various real ministries (i.e., charitable organizations that help the needy in Jesus’ name) to see what they might be able to buy with such an enormous sum.
10,000,000 ducks for poor families in the Philippines
3,684,211 rabbits for poor families in Liberia
555,556 sheep for poor families in Thailand
1,400,000 fishing kits for poor families in Myanmar
107,692 dairy cows for poor families in Sri Lanka
217,391 donkeys for poor families in Nepal
350,000 stocked fish ponds for poor families in East Timor
194,444 alpacas for poor families in Peru
Gospel for Asia
12,727,273 chickens for poor families in Bangladesh
1,000,000 goats for poor families in Afghanistan
152,174 water buffalo for poor families in Bhutan
1,076,923 lambs for poor families in Maldives
2,153,846 pigs for poor families in Pakistan
Habitat for Humanity
27,505 houses for poor families in the Democratic Republic of Congo
30,382 houses for poor families in Papua New Guinea
28,736 houses for poor families in Sri Lanka
39,041 houses for poor families in India
33,333 houses for poor families in Guatemala
1,166,667 emergency medical kits capable of meeting the needs of 50 people
2,000,000 emergency food packages for starving families worldwide
1,555,556 emergency relief packages for disaster-struck areas
7,000 wells for poor, rural communities in Zambia
823,529 biosand filters to give poor families clean water in Kenya
14,000,000 HIV testing and counseling sessions
933,333 latrines for disease-stricken communities in Uganda
70,000,000 pairs of shoes (!)
3,500,000 new coats for underprivileged children in the U.S.
56,000,000 copies of the New Testament
Ham and his cronies, of course, would defend their project by saying the money is being used to further the gospel message. Obviously, even someone casually acquainted with the New Testament knows that for every Great Commission, there are 10 or 20 directives toward selfless service of others — particularly the poor.
But, no, fine, Mr. Ham. Good. Go ahead and build your little ark. I’m sure that the children starving to death in Sudan and Chad and Ecuador and many, many other places, will find great comfort in the fact that a ludicrously expensive wooden ship (that can’t even float) is materializing somewhere on the other side of the world.