One of our more unique programs at IOLBC is our annual Travel Camp. Each year in the fall we choose a different location, hire a coach bus, and travel for about a week to experience a different part of the United States. We've been to the Grand Canyon, San Antonio, Savannah, Colorado, and Mackinac Island just to name a few. This year, our featured destination was the Ark Encounter just outside of Cincinnati, OH. The trip also included time at the Creation Museum and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
This week I have asked two of our bus hosts to share a little snippet of their experiences on the trip and what God taught them while traveling this year. First up we have some reflections on the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter by long time bus host Jan Matz:
The Creation Museum was surrounded by beautiful gardens and walkways. Inside the Museum, we walked through the Garden of Eden and saw Adam naming the animals, the Serpent coiled in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and many more Bible stories. We got to see the story of creation unfold as we explored and learned about how science and faith work together to tell the story of how we came to be on this earth.
The next day we visited The Ark Encounter, a full sized replica of Noah’s ark according to the best understanding of the dimensions given in Genesis 6. The Ark Encounter was overwhelming. Just think of all the conversations Noah had with God and all the instructions he was given. There are three decks in the ark. The third deck is where Noah and his family had their living quarters. We could see how the living area was most likely laid out and what it contained. Included on the third deck were areas containing a workshop, blacksmith shop, library, kitchen, garden and a study where Noah recorded the stories of the corruption in the world before the flood.
The second deck had very large, tall door. (A lot of photos were taken in front of this door.) Animals were taken into the ark through this door. Once all the animals were inside along with Noah and his family, God shut them inside the ark, closing and sealing a similar door so many years ago. (Genesis 7:16) One of the most interesting parts about this second deck was seeing how the animals were likely fed and watered. Overall, it was amazing to see how strongly the ark was constructed enabling it to withstand months of very stormy weather.
Just like God had a plan for Noah’s life, God has a plan for our lives as well. We need to be listening and by faith following His instructions. In Isaiah 41:10 we are told not to fear because He is our God. He will strengthen us and help us and uphold us with His arm.
We traveled in bus full of travelers singing, reading God’s word, encouraging each other and praying together. In a way, it was an “ark experience.” Especially when it rained very hard one night as we were on our way to Chicago, many prayers were said as our bus drivers drove through hard rain and lots of traffic. Prayers were answered as we all made it to our hotel.
It was just 6 days, but our “ark” was a great way to feel God’s love all around.
I would like to close with Ephesians 3:20-21: “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen”
In addition to the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum, our travel campers were able to visit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center which focused on both historical and modern day slavery. Kristin Rienhardt, on staff with IOLBC, got to jump in and host our 2nd bus because we had so many travelers. This is what she has to share:
How would you define freedom? The freedom to stand up move around. The freedom to work. The freedom to drive. The freedom to vote. The freedom to follow Jesus. The freedom to simply live life. The way we define freedom can vary in many different ways. That definition often changes depending on when and where we grew up. There are many simple things we take for granted in this time, in this country, and in our own lives. Simple things we don’t think of as being a “freedom” but as something which “just is,” these are someone else’s hope to gain and experience.
Recently, I was bus host for IOLBC’s annual Travel Camp and we headed to the Cincinnati area. While we were there we got to see the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum. Additionally, we also got to see the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. This place shook me to my core. This place sent my emotions on a roller-coaster ride. This place told the stories and history of people who woke up every day with no hope and no sense of freedom. They were not free by the world’s standards. There were slaves to other people. And not only in the days leading up to the Civil War; it also told the stories of those living in slavery still today both around the world and throughout the United States. Human slavery looks a little different in modern American. However, primarily because of the trafficking and selling of women and children in the sex trade, slavery is still present.
As I walked through the halls of this place, I heard hymns I have sung in church my whole life. We often forget how many hymns were originally songs sung by slaves. Singing these hymns was their little bit of freedom and hope each day. It was their way of praising and trusting God in the midst of the terrible pain, suffering, and struggle they endured.
I am reminded of a shirt I once owned which said, “Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, Jesus Christ and the American soldier, one died for your soul and the other died for your freedom.” Freedom comes with a cost. There is a sacrifice which takes place in order for freedom to be present. People risking their lives for others, costing them everything so they could set someone else free. Jesus paid the ultimate price for all who have sinned and fall short so we might be free (Romans 3:23-26). Now that is something to sing about. That is something to praise God for in the midst of a broken world. So I leave you with this verse:
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” -2 Corinthians 3:17
There is freedom where the Holy Spirit is present. Imagine the freedom which has taken place throughout history on the battlefield, in homes, in discussions around a politician’s table. Now imagine the lives which have been changed because of the freedom received when they put Jesus at the center of their lives.
Jesus has the power to break every chain which holds each person in slavery.
1. Read the stories of creation and the flood in Genesis. Challenge yourself to not make assumption based on the childhood versions you have heard, but to read them to really see all the details included in each story.
2. Want to learn more about how science supports the story of creation? Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry which was formed with this desire at its base. Another source of information is The Institute for Creation Research which is dedicated to funding research to further explore the scientific basis for the Biblical account of creation.
1. Take the time to make a list of all the freedoms you are able to enjoy in your life today. Ask your family and friends to contribute. Spend some time in prayer thanking God for these freedoms and praying for those who do not experience them. Put the list someplace where you will be reminded of the freedom you enjoy both because of where you are from and what God has done for you.
2. Learn about modern day slavery. Antislavery.org has some great basic information to get you started. For a more local organization, check out the Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking and Slavery. In addition to some great information, they offer a lot of connections to organizations actively working in your area. Both organizations will help you learn the signs and know how to report suspicious activity.
- Have you been to any of these sites? Share your experiences with friends and family! It's a great way to get some amazing conversations about faith started!
NOTE: We currently work with Diamond Tours to host our Travel Camp program and have been very happy with them. They have offered great trips at an affordable price and have everything all planned out for us. Please call the camp at 712-337-3306 if you would like to know more about our experience with this trip specifically or our trips in general. We'd be happy to share what we have learned and pass along the contact information to our favorite sales associate at Diamond Tours if you feel like they would be a good fit for your travels.