When we arrived at Dinosaur Adventure Land last summer, there was a big sign that said, "Welcome to My Backyard." Thinking it was a cute advertising gimmick, we went in to check out Kent Hovind's creation-based amusement park and museum, although the government had already closed down the museum.
We enjoyed an incredible day, playing on all kinds of unique contraptions that were a cross between a science experiment and a Bible lesson. Each person who worked there readily shared the gospel at every opportunity, calling themselves missionaries. We could really tell they had hearts for the Lord and spreading the good news to all who would listen. It was never really preachy, just natural and heart-felt.
Around mid-day, we noticed a motorcycle leaving the compound, with the man stopping and greeting everyone in his "backyard" on the way out to run an errand. I thought that was nice. But then he stopped and greeted everyone again, when he came back about half an hour later, even if he had already greeted them before. We were in the bookstore at the time, and I saw Kent Hovind come into the bookstore, talking on his cell phone, waving at everyone as he walked through to his office. I didn't think anything of it, as I had seen "famous" Christians greet everyday Christians like that most of the time. Who has time for the average Joe Christian?
I was then surprised that Kent Hovind indeed had time for the average person. A few minutes later, he came back out into the bookstore, apologizing for being on the phone, and went around the store, greeting everyone. It was not perfunctory, but rather he showed a genuine interest in each person. For instance, my severely disabled 11-year-old daughter was sitting in the corner, crying, while I was rushing to look at his books and videos, so Kent went up to her and started trying to engage her in a conversation. He did not speak down to her at all, but started showing her some science experiments he had set up all around the room. Knowing that my daughter cannot speak, I went over to intercede on her behalf. When I mentioned what her disability was, he asked me if I had ever spoken to a certain Christian nutrition expert whose books he carried and recommended. When I replied that I hadn't, he pulled out his cell phone, called him, and gave it to me. That's real life.
But that wasn't all. Then he went out the back door of the shop and spent about 30 minutes pushing kids on the swings in his backyard which, by now, I realized was literally his backyard! His house had one room for a bookstore, and another for a classroom, and another for his office.
Thinking that must be the end of his PR time, we continued enjoying our day, taking some time to talk with one of his "missionaries." About an hour later, here comes Kent Hovind again, joining us for another long conversation. I left that day with tears in my eyes, realizing that this man had spent more time treating me as a person in that one day, than had my elder in a very small church where we went for years. This man truly cared about people, and I wasn't even there with my husband that day!
I did talk to him about the current issue of tax evasion. Kent Hovind believes he and his employees work for God, are paid by God, and therefore aren't subject to taxation. This post will not go into the specifics of his beliefs on that subject and what I believe about them, but what I did leave Kent Hovind with was the knowledge that here was a man who was willing to stand up for his beliefs, no matter who stood with him or who stood against him, and I wish every Christian were that sold out for their faith.
I read a few comments on this subject where people thought it was just all about money with Kent Hovind. I just don't see that at all. He does not live in a fancy house. He shares everything he has. He didn't appear to making much money at Dinosaur Adventure Land. But the one thing that really stands out that tells me that money is not an idol to him is that fact that none of his stuff is copyrighted. In fact, anyone is free to copy his DVDs and pass them on to others who like to see them. He gives away TONS of free stuff to prisons, schools, and other places that might be interested in what he has to say. I have seen many Christian "ministries" where you knew money was really important, but I did not sense that in the least here.
I have written on this blog earlier about Pensacola Christian College and some of the things we were attracted to there, but I will be consistent in my orthopraxy and orthodoxy and I will stand against Beka Horton, PCC's founder's wife and current Senior VP, who has turned Kent Hovind over to the secular courts. She did not sue him, per se, but that is not the word I Corinthians 6 uses anyway. She is still using the world's way to deal with a situation that sounds like it has a lot of personal background between the two families. I guess the $47,000 she stands to gain from turning him in won't hurt.
And then there is the lawyer, David Gibbs, who is another Christian testifying against a Christian brother in a secular court as well. Should Christians really have to worry that what they say in church fellowship times will be brought against them in the form of a prosecuting witness on the stand in the world's courts?
Did Kent Hovind do the right thing? I don't know. But I do know that I met a man who truly loves the Lord, who is willing to pay the price to defend his beliefs in God's Word, and who has not let fame put him on a pedestal. And that speaks VOLUMES to me.