By RAVEN MARAGH
Many children have been told the story — the one with the humongous boat, the animals and the storm. Ringing a bell yet?
A 6-foot replica of Noah’s ark sat close to the podium of the Faith Baptist Church when evangelist Michael Todd spoke in the morning and evening services on Sunday. Todd, who has a Ph.D. in theology, wanted to bring the realistic elements of different biblical time periods to life, he said.
“Visual aids really get people thinking and understanding,” Todd explained as he pointed to the wooden ark replica that a friend made. Surrounding the wooden ark were several tiny toy animals. Some were too small to recognize, as was seen in the “dog” and “cat” labels, and others were clearly identifiable.
“The more senses you can involve, the better,” said Dan Kelly, the church’s youth pastor. Kelly said he thought the replica got the congregation even more involved with the story of Noah’s ark and its logistics that Todd explained, such as the hypothetical weight and actual amount of animals in the ark.
“It really is an amazing story,” Kelly said.
For member Terra Harris, the service explaining the ark took her from an assumed version of the ark to a more realistic one.
“Storybooks make Noah’s ark look like a small and simple boat,” Harris said.
Another member, Eric Hill, said he might just bring the message into prisons around Missouri where he does missions work. “It depends on the Lord,” he said.
For Hill, what stood out the most from the ark service was Todd’s explanation that there were probably only 35,000 animals on the ark; he said many stories make it seem like there were millions.
Todd and his wife, Susan, have been traveling around the United States for six years with visual aids such as the replica of Noah’s ark bringing more knowledge to people about the Bible, Todd said.
But the ark is not Todd’s only visual aid. From head to toe, the evangelist wears garments, made by his wife, that are representative of robes that priests wore in the Bible, he said. Todd’s royal blue garment was accented by 12 jeweled stones on his chest that represent the 12 tribes of Israel.
The effect of his attire does not stop at colors, however. As Todd walked to the front of the church to begin his sermon at the 6 p.m. service, the church echoed with the sounds of bells. The subtle sound came from his robe’s hem and was representative of priests’ garments as well, he said. Todd wears this garment to draw people’s attention even more to what life would have been like thousands of years ago, he said.
The idea of bringing history and science together with religion spiked Hill’s attention even further. “The average person could understand the message,” he said.
For Todd, he presents around the country to bring a more realistic version of the Bible to people. “(I want) to see people come to a knowledge that the Bible is true,” he said.