Can the verses in the Bible serve as a source of inspiration to face the menace of global warming? A Dutch Christian boatmaker has just proven so.
When he started to work on his project decades ago, everyone laughed at him; his friends, relatives, and even his wife thought he had just lost his mind. But now, the whole world is admiring his work.
In a matter of years, the sea level will rise considerably as a consequence of global warming, according to the experts’ estimations. This will result in big floods and threaten life in coastal cities.
We can’t be sure of the extent of the damage these floods will cause. But it’s better to be safe than sorry, and Johan Huibers has come up with his own solution to the problem.
It all started when Johan’s kids were little. During that time, he used to read them stories from the Bible at bedtime. Their favorites were those from the book of Genesis.
Among those was the story of Noah and his ark. One day, as he was reading it to them, he couldn’t help but notice something that he found incredibly uncanny.
There were striking similarities between the story of the universal flood and scientists’ predictions about the sea level rising as a result of global warming.
At first, this was just a thought that crept into the back of his mind every now and then. But in time, something happened that turned it into something way bigger and more important to Johan.
One night, he had a nightmare about a great flood devastating his country, sinking all the cities under gigantic waves coming from the sea. From that moment, he found his new purpose in life.
“When I was 24 years old, I became a believer, and when I dreamed of the flood, the next day I said to myself:” What can I do? I have to build an ark to talk about God”.
So he went to work the very next day. “I wondered whether someone, Disney perhaps, had already built a replica of the ark,” he said. “And then I said out loud that if none had, I would.”
He told his wife about his project, but she didn’t take it seriously. “She told the kids that after I finish building my ark, we can all go on vacation to the moon,” Johan recalled. But he had his mind set on it: he knew he had to do it, no matter what it took.
Johan, a wealthy businessman, funded the ark’s building process from his own pockets. It took him two decades and almost $1.6 million; but now it’s finished, and everyone is admiring Johan’s work.
The result is the more impressive considering that Johan has made a point to emulate the conditions and circumstances in which Noah’s original ark was built. This is how he did it:
He hired amateur carpenters to build it to add authenticity to it and make it as similar as possible to the one in the original Bible story. “We had a butcher, a hairdresser, and a teacher working here,” he said. “We’re not professional boatmakers. A lot of stuff here is a bit crooked.”
The entire ship is made of wood: American cedar and pine, to be specific. However, he used a steel frame in the process. However, the most impressive part about the ark is its size.
The ark is roughly the size of a five-story building, as it’s 75 feet tall. The other dimensions are 95 feet wide and 410 feet long; also, it weighs about 2,500 tons.
It can host 4000 people and 15.000 species of animals. In order to prove that his work can fulfill the same function as Noah’s original ark in the event of a great flood threatening life on Earth, Johan has done the following:
He has populated the ark’s interior with full-size wooden statues of several species of animals, including elephants, gorillas, and rhinos.
Johan is convinced that, sooner or later, a great flood will take over the Earth, and his ark will have to be used for the same purpose as Noah’s original one. When he was asked about it, he responded with some eerie predictions:
“This is a process that started after Noah, 4000 years ago – he explains – and will continue: it will get hotter and hotter. The same goes for the oceans, and their level will rise.”
“You can call it global warming if we want, but it is something absolutely normal: it is the volcanoes, the earthquakes, and the natural events that are responsible for the heating. I do not know what will happen in the next years, but surely other floods will come.”
“I believe we are living in the end of times,” he said. “We’re not conscious of it. People never are. It sounds like doom and gloom. But I’m not afraid of it.”
“The water is going to come. From the mountains, from the sea, through Germany. Just like in 1959,” he said, referring to the North Sea flood of 1959, which killed more than 2,000 people in the Netherlands. But in the meantime, he has other plans for the ark.
His goal right now is to sail the ark from the Netherlands to Israel; previously, he intended to sail it to Brazil for the 2016 Summer Olympics, but the trip never took place.
But now, he’s set on sailing to Israel. “This is a copy of God’s ship. It only makes sense to take it to God’s land,” he said. “I love the land, I love the country, I love the people,” he said of Israel. “They don’t obey, they do what they want, they drive like mad, and don’t listen to anyone. Just like me.”
“It may sound scary, but I believe everything written in the Bible, cover to cover,” he has declared. He has also said that the main goal of the ark is to ensure his own survival of that of his family.
“Maybe it will, who knows, but my survival is not its purpose,” Huibers said. “It’s meant to educate, a reminder that our world is changing, will continue to change, as we see now because of global warming, rising sea levels, fires.” But that’s not all. He has a further motive.
Above everything else, he said he has built the ark “to show people that God exists.” In his own words: “I wanted children to come here and feel the texture of the wood, see the nails and see that what is written in the book is true.”
“I wanted to spread God’s word in the Netherlands,” he’s said. But a few questions still remain: will he accomplish his goals? And most importantly: will his predictions turn out to be true?