This Dutch carpenter has gone a bit further than building kitchen cabinets.
Johan Huibers, a construction worker from the Netherlands, has spent the past five years of his life constructing what is a life-size ark, a replica of Noah’s Ark from the Bible. The initial goal in Mr. Huibers’ mind of recreating the monumental boat from the popular story of the book of Genesis has been accomplished, and now Johan and his team’s next step is to take the ark on an expedition that reaches out beyond the northern waters of the Netherlands.
The Ark of Noah can contain 5,000 people at a time, spanning roughly the length of a football field and is five stories tall. These sort of dimensions are equal to what they were said to have been in the story of the great flood itself, which inspired Johan deeply. With a profound humanitarian philosophy and a heart for the spiritually hungry and curious, the Ark of Noah looks to take the voyage from the Netherlands all the way to Brazil in the summer of 2016 in order to visit several coastal cities.
Herald A.M.A. Janssen, director of the Ark Foundation, spent some time answering some of the questions that I had about this monolithic undertaking:
DC Life Magazine: How did the vision to build this ark come to be in the first place?
Herald Janssen: The builder is Johan Huibers and he’s from the Netherlands. By trade, he’s a carpenter and a construction worker. This vision came to him in a dream about a ravaging flood. After thinking about it for a good amount of time, he eventually realized that he wanted to point people to the story of the great flood using the ark to show that there is always a fresh and new future with hope to come.
Johan describes that this project was put on his heart long before the elements came together to make it work. He was able to get the right material and the right is available at the right time. That’s why he felt he needed to build it as he believed that God had confirmed this with him.
DC: What exactly is involved in your plans to transport the Ark of Noah to Brazil this summer?
HJ: Yes, we plan to take it to the Northern coastal city of Fortaleza, which is closest, first. There, we will refurbish it and do some first exhibitions so that we can train the staff and display it for the lovely people there. Many ministries and a handful of business people in Fortaleza are all excited about the arrival of the ark, as Brazilians tend to be very energetic and excited people. When they put their heart into something, they become completely passionate about it. In the beginning, we wanted to make it for the Olympic games on time in Rio de Janeiro but because of the limited space in the harbor, we will only make it for the Paralympic games right after. However, thinking of this makes us feel very good and we realize that this is just as important of a time to be there.
DC: What humanitarian aspect is behind the Ark of Noah project?
HJ: We had decided in the first place that we were going to Brazil for the underprivileged of the world. We will be coming up with and partnering alongside ministries in the favelas (slums of Brazilian cities) where these residents could never afford to buy a ticket to the ark even if their whole street pitched in to pay. We would love to have the American people, as a challenge, buy one ticket. Not to necessarily go themselves, however. Because by doing this, we will pick up one child or a family in the favelas and bring them to the ark for the day. With the proceeds, we are going to also help local ministries with their further mission work in the favelas. After this, if we have generated enough ticket sales, we plan to build miniature “Arks of Hope” in Brazilian cities on the land. There we will create support for reading and writing classes, information about sexually transmitted diseases, proper hygiene, crafts, a treatment center with nurses available, and a community center where we can have get-togethers or listen to guest speakers.
DC: After the Ark of Noah’s time in Brazil is over, what plans come next?
HJ: We have to make a choice! We’ve received invitations from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a few other countries. After we visit Argentina we will come back up north. Churches from Columbia continue to write to us asking when we may be able to come too. After all, is said and done we will come to the west coast of the United States.
Over time, we are improving the Ark. It’s very rustic right now, it’s authentic. However, in order to jump it into the 21st century, we have teamed up with specialist engineers which have worked for Disney, who now have their own shop and have said that they would be happy to devote their time and talent to turn this ark into the most high-tech vessel on earth! So by the time we hit San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle, this Ark could be quite the magnificent and amazing attraction. After that, we will just have to wait and see.
DC: We have established that Johan is a great builder/carpenter. Any plans in the future for him to build a replica Tower of Babel?
HJ: (Laughs) No plans come to mind.
You can check out Ark of Noah’s website and help donate to the mission: Arkofnoah.org
You can follow Daniel Fecht on Twitter: @allpepperedup
Written by: Daniel Fecht