Creation 36(4):12–15, October 2014
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Model message spreads all over the world
Warren Nunn and David Catchpoole chat with the ‘Ark Van’ couple, Rod and Nancy Walsh.
A sparrow, a potato chip and a loud, alcohol-fuelled scoffer. What could they have to do with the creation message? While ‘miracle’ might be an overused term, those who experience outcomes that defy their circumstances will attest to the fact that the God of the Universe steps in sometimes in both small and large ways.
Australian couple Rod and Nancy Walsh certainly can. They have had much answer to prayer while spreading the creation message for Creation Ministries International (CMI) in their Ark Van, which has a 1.9 m (approx 6ft 2in) scale model of Noah’s Ark that Rod built himself.
They take the modified van to universities, schools, churches, trade shows and community markets; and when they stop at a caravan park overnight, the show-and-tell often continues for hours.
The couple engage questioners—some hostile—with Rod’s easy-going style often winning over even the most vocal opponent.
Rod and Nancy are quick to point out they know it is the Lord working through them. Both were converted later in life and immediately became involved in outreach including prison evangelism.
In 1997, Rod says, he believed God wanted him to build a scale model of Noah’s Ark and ‘take it on the road’. Rod and Nancy’s travels have taken them throughout Australia and also overseas to the United Kingdom, Europe, North America and New Zealand. Rod has crafted eight separate Noah’s Ark models and has donated five to the CMI ministries in the UK, Canada, Australia, NZ, and the USA.
In driving thousands of kilometres yearly, Rod and Nancy have encountered many minor problems but their biggest challenge came in Australia’s vast outback.
The Eyre Highway that crosses the mostly uninhabited Nullarbor Plain in south-central Australia provides a spectacular driving adventure. However, because of its sparse population and limited facilities, it is an unforgiving place for motorists who encounter major mechanical issues.
When Rod and Nancy faced that scenario one Monday night, at a remote ‘truck stop’, it looked impossible for them to meet an obligation some 1400 km (870 miles) away on Thursday. A mechanic and parts could not be organized for at least four days.
They prayed about it and, soon after, Rod noticed a truck and trailer drive in without a load. When Rod asked the driver why, apparently a last-minute cancellation meant he had to return empty to Esperance in Western Australia. This was only 320 km (200 miles) from their destination, and repairs could be done more quickly there.
Rod asked the driver to contact his boss who agreed to transport the Ark Van to Esperance for $1000, not much more than what the cost of the van’s fuel plus wear and tear would have been.
Within 20 minutes, the van was on the back of the low-loader and Rod and Nancy were sitting in comfort with the driver, who was a willing listener as they told him about their ministry. And then the driver told them that he hadn’t intended interrupting his journey at the ‘truck stop’—but that he had suddenly felt he ought to stop for five minutes. They were certainly grateful that he had, and that Rod ‘just happened’ to be nearby (filling his water bottle), at that exact moment!
The wondrous events continued when they reached Esperance. The truck company’s owner discounted the cost by a further $300, and after the van repairs were arranged, the driver offered Rod and Nancy accommodation for the night.
The van was repaired in time for them to arrive only 10 minutes late at their meeting; something seemingly impossible less than 72 hours earlier.
“A secular person would say just coincidence, but Nancy and I see the Hand of God in it,” Rod said.
Both Rod and Nancy had dramatic conversions to Christ which involved real conviction of sin and an overwhelming realization of God’s forgiveness and cleansing.
Rod, an accomplished presenter, has given ark talks in England, Wales, Ireland, Holland, Canada, USA and New Zealand. In the UK, vehement anti-creationist Richard Dawkins published a full itinerary of Rod’s speaking engagements on his website and called for skeptics to challenge the talks. Though Rod certainly had skeptical people challenge him, there were no real issues. But Dawkins had unwittingly provided plenty of free advertising that resulted in bumper attendances!
And then there was that incident of the sparrow, chip, and the scoffer.
In a small town, Rod and Nancy stopped outside a pub, opened up the sides of the van and started to engage drinkers in an outside area.
One got really loud and shouted, “We all know there’s no God; I’m going to throw this chip into the middle of the road and, if there is a God, God will pick it up straight away.” As soon as the chip landed, a sparrow swooped and flew off with it. When Rod turned to point it out to the scoffer, he went quiet and the mocking stopped.
Rod’s Ark is an engaging DVD documentary telling the fascinating story of how Rod and Nancy came to travel Australia and other parts of the world in the Ark Van. Available via creation.com/store
Rod the knockabout Aussie
Rod Walsh is what is colloquially known as a knockabout Aussie. His favourite sport growing up was cricket, at which he excelled as a leg-spin bowler. While cricket is historically known as a gentlemanly English game, in recent times it has become a much more robust sport. Rod learnt to deal with that harsh reality as his talents won him honours up to under-23 level, just short of the rigours of playing in Australia’s first class Sheffield Shield competition.
That grounding set Rod up for the rough and tumble of dealing with skeptics and sometimes abusive questioners he encounters with the Ark Van. Talking to an imposing, scary character one day, Rod started to challenge him on his need for Christ and could see that he was getting agitated. He braced for a violent physical outburst but the man softened noticeably and took Rod by the hand, saying, “Rod, I needed to hear that today.”
On another occasion, a paleontologist interjected as Rod spoke to some teenagers saying: “You shouldn’t tell lies to these children” (but then the paleontologist probably tells them the evolution lie). A vigorous question-and-answer session followed, after which the clearly challenged paleontologist said he would check out creation.com as he “had not previously heard anything like this before”.
Challenged by three mocking university students, Rod continued to engage and answer their objections. After a few minutes, two of them started to listen while the other continued mocking only to be told by his friends to stop. “This guy has something interesting to say,” one of them said.
The response to the Ark Van in government schools is also interesting. Invariably many teachers begin to take notice once Rod gives his talks.
“In one school a teacher (a Christian, actually) came up in tears because her husband had been telling her for months why you can’t believe in Noah’s Ark. She said, ‘Rod, you just squashed every one of his arguments’.”
The reality of kinship
“I’m related to you” is a conversation starter that Rod often uses, particularly with Australian Aboriginals. When he explains the biblical timeline and the world population graph, Rod says most become very interested.
“I think evolutionary belief has really pushed them (Australian Aboriginals) down to think that they are an under-developed race. I tell them there’s only one race, we’re all related and we all go back to Noah.”
After a meeting at one Northern Territory community, two of the elders spoke to Rod and said it was the first time in their life they really understood the Bible from beginning to end. “Now we know where it all fits together,” they said.
Noah’s Ark questions and answers
Rod’s talks cover a wide range of interesting topics such as the strength of mortise-and-tenon joints if used in the construction of the Ark, the enormous capacity of the Ark, comparatively few kinds of animals, and taking care of water, food, and hygiene.
You will find these same subjects covered, and many more besides, on our website at creation.com/noahs-ark-questions-and-answers.
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