Cubit by cubit, the Rev. Richard Greene's vision is taking shape.
"Noah's Ark Being Rebuilt Here," reads the roadside sign he stuck on a western Maryland mountaintop two decades ago. At last, it is.
Steel beams and girders are rising on the site in the Allegheny Mountains after 24 years of prayer, solicitation and ridicule.
The boat won't float. But it will house a Christian school, Bible college, auditorium and broadcast studio. And Greene is certain it will be built.
God's message is clear, he said: "You just keep on keeping on."
Supports for the four-story structure began going up this spring--the most visible sign of progress since 1976, when work on the foundation began.
It will be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high, close to what Greene calls the biblical blueprint of 300 cubits by 50 cubits by 30 cubits.
But with construction proceeding as donations become available, don't expect the project to be finished on any earthly schedule. So far, Greene said, his God's Ark of Safety Ministry has spent about $500,000 on a project that could exceed $10 million.
"No banker will loan that to me," he said. "So I have to wait for God to speak to people and tell them to help me."
Funds trickle in, usually in $15 to $25 donations, in response to Greene's daily messages on Christian radio, visits to churches around the world and appearances 10 to 15 times a year on Christian television, where he sells videotapes about the project.
Some donors don't need much coaxing. Howard Demory, a farmer in Charles Town, W.Va., has contributed more than $150,000, mostly in increments of $70 a month, since hearing about the project on television nearly 20 years ago. Demory plans to keep giving to the ark "until the Lord provides for it."
Greene, 61, said he received a vision of the ark in 1974 while leading a tiny Church of the Brethren congregation in Frostburg. Greene and his wife, Lottie, had moved a year earlier to this mountain town where she had grown up. That move, he said, was guided by the same divine hand that had directed him to abandon a job as a General Motors engineering analyst in Pontiac, Mich., for the clergy.
At first, Greene thought the ark could be built in two or three years. Four years later, he respectfully asked God about the holdup.
"The Holy Spirit said to me, 'Same today as in Noah's day, I am patient, I am long-suffering, waiting for people to come to know Jesus. Same as the ark today, you just keep on keeping on,' " Greene said.