A number of AiG’s leadership and board were meeting recently, working through how to deal with struggles relating to “deplatforming,” the “woke” culture, and mapping out a way forward to protect AiG and resolve some problems (we can make some of these battles public once we’ve worked around them). We have staff working hard on all this, which is also a detraction from accomplishing the many daily tasks that need to be done. I said to the group, “It’s like being in a war, and we’re planning where to send the troops, where to place the tanks, and where we need to move around the enemies’ lines.”

We’re living at a time of great tumult where we are not immune from issues facing companies and organizations across the nation.

Well, we are in a war—it’s a spiritual war. And we’re living at a time of great tumult where we are not immune from issues facing companies and organizations across the nation. I want to list some of these issues and aspects of the spiritual battle we are dealing with to help you pray more effectively for us and know how to support us in our daily mission. I mostly want to focus on the labor shortage and how this affects us, but I also want to show how we can use this to deal with spiritual battles raging around us. In fact, it gives us a great opportunity at AiG to make a vital spiritual impact on the coming generations.

Let me outline several areas for you and then detail our vision regarding our actions with these items.

1. Labor shortage. Yes, there is a labor shortage across the nation. Soon we begin what we believe (judging from phone calls, group bookings, etc.) will be a very busy year for our attractions (probably the busiest to date), and we need to employ up to 600 seasonal staff for the spring, summer, and fall months. Usually this includes mostly college and high school students and some retirees and others looking for seasonal work. Last year we were short 300 seasonal staff from what was needed. We had many of our salaried staff from all departments working in culinary, guest services, and other areas to try to deal with this staff shortage. Actually, it’s a praise point that the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum bring in so many guests that we have a great need for staff to be able to run the attractions!

2. Christian colleges. There are a small number of Christian colleges/universities that stand with AiG on Scripture and want their students to have summer (and permanent) jobs or internships at Christian facilities like AiG, the Ark Encounter, and the Creation Museum. Some allow students to do coursework online so they can have the ability to work much of the year. Also, there are students attending other institutions (secular and Christian) that would love to work at this ministry.

3. “Woke” culture. There’s an increasing anti-Christian environment permeating the culture. Increasingly, we’re finding employers will not employ those who come from conservative institutions that take biblical stands on marriage, abortion, and gender (many employers check social media posts to check out what people believe), and we’ve heard of many people being fired from their jobs because of their public stand on God’s Word as a Christian.

4. The challenge. The items above sure makes it seem like we should be able to employ lots of students from these institutions. But we have a challenge. We need housing for many of them. I’m sure you can understand that they must live somewhere, and spending their summer earnings on rent creates a major issue for attracting staff (that’s why Disney has access to massive apartment complexes so they can employ the seasonal help they need with affordable housing).

5. The exciting opportunity. As we have contemplated all of this, we also realize what a phenomenal opportunity we have to help shape the lives of these young people who would come to work for us. We’ve had many testimonies from students who have worked for us in the past telling us the following (these are just a few of statements we have heard):

  1. “It meant so much working with Christian managers and staff, as it has helped me greatly in developing my worldview.”
  2. “Having the opportunity of working at the Ark and/or Creation Museum enabled me to learn so much from the exhibits and meeting scientists and others who have impacted me spiritually.”
  3. “Doing an internship at AiG was such a blessing to experience the love of Christians who were dedicated to helping me succeed.”

6. Dealing with the spiritual battle. As our AiG leadership think through all this, we recognize how important it is for us to do all we can to impact the coming generations and help them mature with a truly biblical worldview. We understand the battle around us for the hearts and minds of these young people.

We understand the battle around us for the hearts and minds of these young people.

For instance, John Dewey, considered the father of public education in the US, signed and coauthored the Humanist Manifesto 1 that said, “There is no God and no soul. . . . There is no room for fixed, natural law or permanent moral absolutes.”1 He summarized his position on education this way: “Schools should take an active part in directing social change and share in the construction of a new social order.”2 We are seeing the sad consequences of his godless philosophy in the coming generations and culture as a whole.

And in 2014, a well-known atheistic scientist, speaking to a secular group in Australia, said: “Change is always one generation away,” and “so if we can plant the seeds of doubt in our children, religion [and he really means Christianity in particular when he states this] will go away in a generation, or at least largely go away—and that’s what I think we have an obligation to do.”3

Recently, we’ve heard of several education battles where certain politicians, teachers, and school board members have insisted parents have no rights as to what their children are taught in the secular school system. For example, a Fox News article on a situation in Michigan reported, “The Democratic Party blasted the idea that parents should have a voice in what public schools teach, saying in a Facebook post over the weekend that public education teaches kids what society ‘needs them to know.’ A Saturday post made by the Michigan Democrats on their official Facebook page criticized the parents who want to play a role in what public education teaches their children.”4

Christian researcher George Barna said Generation Z (basically today’s middle school, high school, and college-age students) is the first truly “post-Christian generation” and twice as likely to be atheists as any previous generation. A recent Gallup poll showed that 16% of Generation Z identify as LGBT.

We desperately need to raise up people from Generation Z who will know how to boldly stand on the authority of God’s Word.

We desperately need to raise up people from Generation Z who will know how to boldly stand on the authority of God’s Word.

This brings me to AiG’s vision to help with our staffing shortage so we can serve and reach more people with the truth of God’s Word and the gospel and help train up the younger generations biblically at the same time.

AiG supporters have donated money to enable us to begin building student housing onsite at the Ark Encounter as we have plenty of land available for this. The first building will house 100 student staff. Now that we have the infrastructure (sewage, water, electric, etc.) in place, it will be less expensive to build the next building to house another 100 staff. One building will be designated for males and one for females (there are only two genders of humans, as we know). We believe housing for 200 student staff will go a long way to solving our labor shortage, but at the same time enable us to provide a Christian facility for these students so we can also help mentor them in the Christian faith. The cost of this additional building to house 100 people is $4.5 million.

The first building will be ready this summer. You can see the progress on this and a rendering of the completed structure. The second building will look exactly the same.

Also, as the Lord provides, we will be building a Learning and Development Center that will greatly enhance employee training, and provide more opportunities for students. This is what our Learning and Development manager sent to me:

AiG understands that one of the greatest blessings we have received from the Lord is our staff. We consider investing in their spiritual, personal, and career development an opportunity and responsibility that we must take seriously. We desire to be the model to which other ministries, and even secular companies, look for how to do just that. Our Learning & Development Center will provide us with the space and technological tools needed to develop our staff in the areas of culture, apologetics, and guest engagement, along with role-specific skills development. Along with the training provided to our entire staff by our Learning & Development team, the center will bring opportunities for us to partner with like-minded colleges and universities to offer in-person, online, and livestream college courses that will allow students to gain practical work experience alongside formal degree pursuit. We see this as an opportunity for students, parents, and universities to look to AiG as the standard-bearer for personal and workplace development.

As we develop all of this, we ask that you prayerfully consider helping us financially to build the second student housing facility. Your generous gift of any size this month will be a great blessing! This will be a great step forward for us as we continue to do all we can to reach many more people with God’s Word and the saving gospel.

P.S. Thank you for your faithful prayers and support for the ministry of AiG. Your gift this month will help impact the younger generations and prepare us to serve over a million guests at the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum.

This post was originally published on this site