LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A life-size replica of the Bible's Noah's Ark - larger than a football field and holding 5,000 people - will eventually dock in Southern California, the director of a Pasadena-based Christian foundation said Wednesday.
Dutch carpenter Johan Huibers built the massive, five-floor ship four years ago in the Netherlands as a religious attraction and, in partnership with the Ark of Noah Foundation, is raising money to fund a world voyage.
The 410-foot, 2,500-ton facsimile is expected to travel by barge this summer 5,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, from the Netherlands to Brazil, stopping afterward at ports in Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle, according to Herald A.M.A. Janssen, the director of the foundation.
"We cannot promise how long it will take, but we will come to California," Janssen said. "You get the feeling that a lot of people and animals can fit on this boat."
Huibers' ark was designed as an interactive museum and event center, based on the Bible story of a man who is instructed by God to build a vessel which saves his family and pairs of all the world's animals from a catastrophic, months-long flood.
In line with the story, the ark includes life-size models of giraffes, elephants, lions, crocodiles and zebras - two-by-two.
"We want to eventually build Ark of Hope Centers in inland areas, places to provide outreach to those who need it," Janssen said. "We believe in doing good and now we need to put it into practice."
The ship, also known as "Johan's Ark," will travel to Fortaleza, Brazil, during the 2016 Olympic Games and Rio de Janeiro for the Paralympic summer games, Janssen said.
From there, organizers plan to visit various harbors around the world on its journey to North America. Janssen said it was too early to say when the ship might arrive on the West Coast.
With enough faith, Janssen said, "anything is possible."