Brooklyn Tabernacle & 9/11 Memorial


By Guest Blogger Karen Kuch, BNT Tour Director

I knew when I saw our BNT itinerary, this was going to be a day of extremes…to worship at the Brooklyn Tabernacle is to experience a touch of heaven. Ok, truthfully, I don’t expect heaven to have deacons holding up fingers to show how many seats are left…there will be room for all! However, sitting in a packed, multi-cultural assembly and singing and moving to the praises of Jesus seems a tiny glimpse into what it will be like when all tribes and nations gather. The choir at the Tabernacle felt like it enveloped us…I’m not sure if it was the acoustics or the precise unity of all those voices, or the joy of the songs themselves, but, oh how wonderful to be a part of that sound of praise! The message was direct and down to the nitty gritty of our lives…a challenge to walk faithfully and not fall aside like King Joash from the Scripture reading that day. It was a recognition of our humanity and God’s power to sustain us. As we left and more hundreds filed in, we got a sense of an on-going day of praise and worship that had been injected into our souls to be carried out onto the street and into the fabric of our everyday lives.

The next stop—lunch—was a beautiful transition: a reminder that New York is indeed a “big” city! The food court was set in an elegant building full of upscale shops and offices with a place to sit and look over the harbor. Such a contrast to the traffic and barrage of inner city high rises just a few steps away. That was needed because the next stop was a somber one.

We entered the 911 Museum remembering that day’s horrid events, but the reality of seeing the pieces of the twisted metal and hearing the stories of those who suffered brought it into our worlds in a much more personal way. The tragedy of that day, and the ones that followed, are still unthinkable, yet the museum is so tasteful. It has the “memorabilia” and personal stories of many who tell about what an “ordinary” day it was, and how that changed forever in a blink. There is a burned out fire truck and the “forks” that stand tall: symbols of strength, which now were symbols of devastation.

It is both a tribute to those lost, to those who gave of themselves selflessly, and to the business institution of the World Trade Towers. It is moving, poignant, and sobering. The 911 Museum sits in the shadow of the new One Tower, and next to the new transportation hub, a fantastic architecture of a dove of peace. It speaks to the human spirit of resiliency, sacrifice, and service. That is what gives us reason to be optimistic in the wake of horror.

Our trip, though just a day, bonded us in a new way. We worshipped together with the saints, and then, experienced our country in the wake of terrorism in a new way. It drew us together, and while I can’t say it was “fun” in every way, I can say it was deeply meaningful and every person felt it was worthwhile. I’m thankful to Bob Neff for doing this tour. It was truly a day to remember.



Written by Karen Chronister

Published in BNT Touring Magazine, Spring 2016

And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.

(Genesis 6:15)

HOW big? According to the Bible, Noah, his family, and every animal species inhabited 300 cubits of Ark, with a width at 50 cubits and height at 30 cubits. So, what exactly is a cubit? “A cubit is an ancient measurement of length based on the distance from the elbow to the tip of the longest finger.”1 That leaves a little wiggle room for interpretation. In fact, the cubit varies in length according to location and “tribes.” In Egypt, a cubic is 17.5 inches, but for Babylonian Royals it’s 19.8 inches, and 20.6 inches for Egyptian Royals. Noah’s cubit is uncertain, and probably longer: 19.8-20.6 inches. His ark measured approximately 510 feet long and 50 feet tall. That’s over four stories high! Imagine over 500 semi-truck trailers of space. A standard livestock trailer holds about 250 sheep, and Noah’s Ark could have held at least 120,000 sheep. But, we know he only needed two of each “kind” for his mission.

On July 7, 2016, The Ark Encounter opens to visitors. BNT travelers will be among the first to visit Noah’s world. This one-of-a-kind park is an historically-themed, immersion experience with live performances, special events, and “edu-tainment” for the whole family. The park is located in Williamstown, Kentucky, just forty miles from downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, and forty-five minutes from The Creation Museum. Both attractions are visions of “Answers in Genesis” co-founder Ken Ham.

The first phase of the park’s development focuses on the construction of a true-to-life ark just as Noah was instructed to build. Over 3.3 million board feet have been used in the project. Why is this team building an ark? “Through the construction of a massive life-size Noah’s Ark, the Ark Encounter will be presenting America and other nations with a reminder about the Bible’s account of the Ark—and the historicity of the entire Bible.”2

As one of the largest “green” construction projects in the country, the vision for The Ark Encounter is expansive, and yet environmentally friendly, implementing the latest technologies. Future phases of the park will include daily live mammal, bird, and entertainment shows, interactive children areas, and themed restaurants. Ark officials expect close to two million visitors the first year.

Creation Museum Mission

The Creation Museum is another family-friendly stop on BNT’s “The Creation Museum & The Ark Encouter” tour offered several times this year. The mission? “The Answers in Genesis Creation Museum is a one-of-a-kind, high-tech museum, filled with animatronic displays (e.g., moving dinosaurs), striking videos, a state-of-the-art planetarium, Special Effects Theater, etc., that is spread out over 60,000 square feet, incorporating up to 40-foot ceilings to contain some of its massive exhibits.”3

The museum features a visual presentation of the “Seven C’s of History” according to Scripture: Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, and Consummation.

Creation Museum Fun Facts

Designer Patrick Marsh: the creator of the King Kong and Jaws exhibits at Universal Studios

Family-friendly exhibits: 130 static and animatronic figures of humans, animals and dinosaurs

Indoor waterfalls and cypress trees

A special effects theater with a visual thrill-ride through the “Seven C’s of History”

A top-flight planetarium: Stargazer’s Room

A mini-Grand Canyon exhibit with video evidence from the Mount St. Helens’ eruption

The Dino Dig Site

A cave with stalactites and stalagmites

Two miles of nature trails zigzagging around a three-acre lake

Geologic collection of minerals and pristine fossils

Who is Ken Ham?


Ken Ham is the president and co-founder of Answers in Genesis, an apologetics ministry upholding the authority of the Bible from the first verse. The visionary behind the popular, high-tech Creation Museum, and the Ark Encounter, Ham is also a best-selling author, popular speaker, and host of a daily radio feature on 850-plus stations. Ham, a native of Australia, earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Science from the Queensland Institute of Technology and a diploma of education at the University of Queensland in Brisbane.”1

1., 2/5/16.

2016 BNT 4-Day Tours

The Creation Museum

& The Ark Encounter

August 10-13, 2016

October 12-15, 2016

Tour includes:

Day 1: Flight 93 Memorial

Day 2: Creation Museum/Answers in Genesis

Day 3: Ark Encounter

Day 4: Afternoon cruise on Pittsburgh’s three rivers.

Price per person:

$599 Double

$790 Single

Includes three breakfasts and four dinners.

Call 800.848.1492 to book your travel-back-in-time today!

Visit The Creation Museum and The Ark Encounter online:

Photo Credits: 1, 2. “Truckloads of Cargo Space.”, 2/5/16.                3, 4. “Creation Museum Fact Sheet.”, 2/6/16.

Amazing Grace on Broadway

Post by: Anna Urquhart

This past weekend I headed up to New York City to spend the weekend with a friend. I always like to take in a show if I am able, so when Bob Neff Tours asked me to preview the new musical Amazing Grace I eagerly accepted.

The show is being performed at the Nederlander Theater on 41st street: a beautiful, 1920s theater, where—as is true of most Broadway theaters—every seat is a good seat. When my friend and I arrived at the theater, the line for the show wrapped around the corner of the block and extended partway down 7th Ave. (We were glad we arrived a little early!) Fortunately the line moved quickly and we were soon settled in our seats in the mezzanine.

I had mistakenly assumed the show was going to be about William Wilberforce and the abolition of the British slave trade, as was the 2007 movie Amazing Grace. However, this Broadway musical portrays the story of John Newton as he struggles to come to terms with the passing of his mother, his tyrannical father, the slave trade, and God himself—essentially the show is about how that well-known hymn “Amazing Grace” came to be written.

The show’s music is lyrically powerful and engaging; the sets—especially those sets for the scenes aboard ship—were fantastic. There was plenty of action and adventure with riots and battles and shipwrecks. (The scene where John is shipwrecked and thrown into the sea was astonishing! So much so that the audience broke into applause, celebrating just how visually dynamic it was.) And, of course, there was love—the tumultuous love-story of John and his childhood sweetheart Mary.

All of these things I expected for a show on Broadway. Something for which I was unprepared was how emotional this show made me. The images of slavery, John’s father’s anguish over his son, John’s refusal to accept—and then his final surrender to—the grace of the Almighty. I was in tears far more often than I normally am when taking in a musical production.

Amazing Grace is not an easy show to watch. The true treatment of slaves at that time is clear on stage. Slaves are placed in cages, then are auctioned off. There are several whippings and brandings—not just of the slaves, but of those working to free the slaves, and of John himself. Some choice words are used (specifically d–n and h–l). And a few references to the depravities that female slaves were subjected to by their masters are suggested. (However, I appreciated the tactfulness with which those references were made.)

All of these things combined to touch me deep at the core of myself, where I actually ached to stand up and and object and fight for those oppressed. Yet I believe, in order to do justice to John’s story and to display the limitless reach and relentless pursuit of Grace in John’s life, the depths to which he (and those around him) sank needed to be revealed. The victory at the end of the story was all the more sweet knowing the seemingly insurmountable hurdles that Christ’s love conquered for his child.

(Oh, look at that. Even in the re-telling I’m getting all choked up again.)

In light of the world in which we live and the struggles our country currently faces, this story needs to be told. We need to be reminded of our history. We also need reminded of the power of Grace.

After the curtain call, once the cast had taken their bows, they led the 1,200-member audience in a final refrain of “Amazing Grace.” There are few moments in my life where I am so overcome with emotion I can do nothing but breathe—or, in this case, sob. Yet I looked at my fellow audience members—black, white, male, female, young, old—and listened to the sound of 1,200 voices raised in praise of the Grace that gives sight to the blind and reclaims the lost. And I was overcome. I couldn’t sing. I could only watch and listen and thank the Lord for His most amazing grace.

NOTE: I would recommend this show for ages 10 and up – I would not have been comfortable taking my 9-year-old daughter to this show until she was another year or so older. And I would prepare her for the content of the show before taking her to see it. Parents, you know your children best. Please use your discretion.


2014 Tour Preview

On Saturday, January 4, we hosted our BNT 2014 Tour Preview. What a delightful and blessed time! Prior to the program were several tour reunions where folks shared pictures, caught up with friends, and relived their travel experiences of 2013. During the program we had presentations from Mayflower Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line, an interview with Bob, Jr., and Cindy about their vision for 2014, and an old-fashioned hymn-sing led by Bill Welte and Robert and Joyce Hayes from America’s Keswick. What a great start to this new year. We’re looking forward to many new friendships and new travel adventures to come!

Here’s just a sampling of the 2014 Tour Preview.














Photographs by ErinRPhotography.

Winners of the Christmas Giveaway are . . .

Winner # 1 of a signed copy of A Pioneer Christmas and A Log Cabin Christmas: JODI FREY

Winner #2 of a signed copy of A Pioneer Christmas and A Prairie Christmas: SANDRA BRENEMAN

Congratulations to you both! And thank you all for participating in this fun event. We look forward to another exciting year of travel with you in 2014. Our tour books are on their way to your mailboxes, and our 2014 Tours Preview will be held on Saturday, January 4th at 2 PM at Calvary Church, 1051 Landis Valley Road, Lancaster, PA. We hope to see you there!

Wishing you all a blessed and very merry Christmas!

Bob Neff, Jr. & BNT Staff

A BNT Christmas Giveaway

Pssst! It’s almost Christmas! Hopefully this comes as no surprise–but if so, there’s still time to get that shopping and decorating and preparing complete. Here at Bob Neff Tours we love to get into the Christmas spirit by giving gifts, especially to you, our travelers. We know that you can travel with anyone, but you choose to travel with us. And we are honored by that. So we’d like to say an enormous “THANK YOU!” by hosting a Christmas Giveaway.

Here’s where the fun begins.


Anna Urquhart, one of our travel writers, has recently published a book! Her novella A Silent Night was released in A Pioneer Christmas Collection back in September. And she’s signed two copies of this Christmas collection for us to give to you! There are 2 prizes you can win:

  • 1st Prize: A Christmas Collection Book Bundle that includes a copy of A Pioneer Christmas Collection signed by Anna and a copy of A Log Cabin Christmas
  • 2nd Prize: A Christmas Collection Book Bundle that includes a copy of A Pioneer Christmas Collection signed by Anna and a copy of A Prairie Christmasphoto (81)

Below is a funny little chart called a Rafflecopter. And it’s a new way to run Giveaways that is amazingly simple to use. Here’s what you need to do to enter.

1. Click on the Rafflecopter link below, scroll down, then click “Log In” – you can log in using your email address or using your Facebook account. We need your email address so that we can contact you if you win!

2. Follow the prompts on the Rafflecopter by clicking the green “+1” buttons. It’ll walk you through the entry process.

3. You have 3 ways of entering the Giveaway

1) follow to the BNT blog  by clicking the orange “follow” button and entering your email address

2) “Like” Bob Neff Tours on Facebook

3) “Like” Anna C. Urquhart on Facebook.

You can choose one of these options or all 3. If you do all 3, your name will be entered 3 times for more chances of winning!

The Giveaway will end at 12:00 AM on Wednesday, Dec. 18. Winners will be announced on Dec. 19 on this blog, on the BNT Facebook page, and contacted directly by email. We wish you all the merriest and most blessed of Christmases as we remember the birth of our Savior Jesus and sing as the angles did, “Glory to God in the highest!”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

PS: You can purchase a copy of A Pioneer Christmas Collection on Amazon, Walmart, Sams Club, Barnes & Noble, and any other major book distributor!

Sacrifice and Service: a trip to our nation’s capital


By: Anna Urquhart

Last week I took a bus-full of students to Washington, D.C., on a Bob Neff Tour. I’ve most often taken students to the Holocaust Memorial Museum (which I highly recommend), the Smithsonian, or other museums of a more historical nature. However, this time our focus was more political and governmental, and we turned our sights first to the Capitol Building.

I have not visited the Capitol in years. Yet, just as I remembered, the architecture is august, the artwork mesmerizing, and the history at its heart evokes a deep pride in our country’s heritage. (Remember back with E Pluribus Unum held such profound meaning?)

The National Statuary Hall, also known as the Whispering Hall, was a highlight for everyone it seems. Statues tower along the walls of this room, honoring persons such as Rosa Parks, William Jennings Bryan, and Winston Churchill. It is in this hall that John Quincy Adams had his desk, and it was positioned at the perfect place so that, due to the shape and acoustics of the room, he could hear anything whispered the whole way across the room as if the words were being whispered directly into his ear. Our tour guide even demonstrated the acoustical phenomenon for us, and it was remarkable. Seems like the perfect location for a desk if you’re a politician. (J.Q. knew what he was doing.)

While the Capitol was intriguing and inspiring, what left a more lasting footprint in my memory was where we went next: Ford’s Theatre. The site of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination has been restored and maintained as authentically to Lincoln’s day as possible. The box where the President sat, known as the State Box, is as near to replicating exactly how it looked when Lincoln watched and chuckled at the comedy onstage that fateful night of April 15, 1865. There is a museum in the basement of the theatre that sheds light on the Nation’s events that surrounded the assassination, as well as offering background on those involved in the plot, in particular John Wilkes Booth. Seeing the men (and 1 woman), their faces only inches from mine, makes the story a whole lot more “real.” It took me beyond what I learned in school and prompted me to see the human story behind it all, making this historic event that much more captivating and tragic.


From the basement we climbed the stairs to the balcony where the State Box is located. Looking at the horseshoe of plush seats and the dark wood of the stage I tried to imagine what that night might have been liked: a brimming broiling theatre of 1700 people (well beyond the fire safety codes of today). Women in hoop skirts, men with snuff and cigars; all abuzz, all wedged onto benches and eager for entertainment. Even after Booth shot Lincoln and jumped from the box onto the stage, the audience thought it was all part of the show. Yet the tumult and terror, fear and frenzy that erupted once the assassination was discovered must have been horrifying. It was a surreal experience to sit calmly in the balcony seats of the theatre where nearly 150 years ago one of the greatest leaders America has ever known was murdered.

Unbelievably, Lincoln did not die immediately (though to look at the size of the bullet that went into his head, it’s shocking he survived even for a short while). He was taken across the street to the Peterson House which is also open to the public. The house, like the theatre, is preserved to look as it did in Lincoln’s day. They have also recently added a museum with fascinating interactive displays and a pillar of books–books all written on the subject of Lincoln, his presidency, and his death. One of my favorite parts, that I nearly missed because I didn’t look up, is a statement made by W.E.B. Dubois about Lincoln:

So it seems fitting, with Veteran’s Day so recently passed, to consider where our roots lie. To consider the cost of freedom and the sacrifices that have been made by so many to staunchly defend that freedom. And to say thank you. Thank you to our veterans who have served and fought and sacrificed willingly for this country. Thank you to those who still serve and fight and sacrifice. It is because of your courage that this nation stands.

Girls and Dolls on Fifth Avenue


By: Anna Urquhart

New York City. A clear, summer day. The sun shimmers off the buildings lining Fifth Avenue. A light breeze sweeps along the street. The smell of almonds roasting wafts from a nearby street vendor’s cart. My 7-year-old daughter grips my hand tightly as we cross the street.

On the corner of 49th Street, just a block away from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, sits the American Girl Place. Three floors of a girl’s dream come true. Dolls upon dolls upon dolls. Replete with clothes, accessories, pets. And, yes, there’s lots of pink.


My daughter and I spend a leisurely bit of time browsing around the store. We purchase a new outfit for her doll, Julie, whom she has brought along (and will spend the bus ride home dressing Julie in her new attire). Then we mosey to the third floor where we meet up with the rest of the Bob Neff Tours group and are shown into the American Girl Cafe. The American Girl company has shown a strict dedication to quality over the years, and their cafe is no different.


With places set for all the girls and their dolls, we sit and are treated to a scrumptious 4-course lunch, unhurried and with a great attention to detail by the staff.  (There is even a doll holder in the bathroom so you don’t have to set your doll down while using the lavatory!)


Julie just hanging out. Yes, I actually did take a picture in the bathroom. I couldn’t help myself!

After lunch we have time to stroll into Times Square, ride the ferris wheel in Toys R Us, sip berry smoothies at the Europa Cafe, and giggle as we try on sunglasses from a street vendor.  It is an absolutely delightful day, made perfect by the fact that I don’t have to drive or navigate through traffic or park or mess with planning. My job is to enjoy my daughter and spend the day making memories. And that is precisely what we do.