An Ararat Reunion
by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
Our Lord regularly showers us all with blessings, but some are so wonderful they must be shared. As part of the ICR family, may I share one with you?
My first foray into creation work was the 1972 expedition to Mt. Ararat in search of Noah's Ark. That expedition, of which I was the leader, experienced many stunning answers to prayer, and was a defining moment in the lives of each of the five expedition members. Recently, the five of us got together for a reunion after some 31 years.
There had been a few expeditions in the 1960s and even before, mostly by Seventh Day Adventists, but the work was not well-known among evangelicals. The early groups had mapped part of the glacier and done geological and botanical studies, but the Ark search had not been their sole focus. Soon after ICR was founded in 1970, one search veteran,
an ex-Adventist by the name of Eryl Cummings, asked ICR to publish a book on the subject by his wife, Violet, entitled, Noah's Ark: Fact or Fable. It presented captivating eyewitness accounts of people who claimed to have seen the Ark throughout history. The research led to the inescapable conclusion that some man-made structure, the general size and shape of Noah's Ark given in the Bible, still remained high atop the 17,000 foot Mt. Ararat in Eastern Turkey. I was an engineer working in Los Angeles at the time, living a defeated Christian life. My father let me read the manuscript in hopes that God would use it to capture my attention and encourage me to return to God. Thankfully He did, and soon I had fully surrendered to Him.
Before long I had met several others involved in the search and was accepted on the 1971 expedition which never actually left for Turkey. The idea began to grow that I could lead a low-profile group of strong climbers with the search as our only goal, and so I made a preliminary trip to acquaint myself somewhat with the area. Several people heard about my plans and wanted to join; but four men stood out and were selected.
John Bultema, an industrialist from Michigan, was and still is one of the most likeable and sincere Christian men you'll ever meet. He was 49 at the time, while the rest were 19-28. His maturity and wisdom were invaluable.
Roger Losier, graduate of Dallas Bible College, grew up in Rhodesia as a missionary kid. He had climbed Kilimanjaro and seemed part mountain goat. Cross-cultural skills were a real plus.
John Seiter, an experienced out-doorsman and backpacker, became the unofficial "chaplain" of the group.
Bill Ellison, the youngest, was easily the most experienced mountaineer. An intensely spiritual young man, he was on the Southern California Mountain Rescue Team.
Together we saw abundant answers to prayer, especially preservation in times of mortal danger. Thieves shot at us on several occasions. We were often attacked by vicious packs of renegade wolf dogs. Three of us were actually struck by lightning at the 14,000-foot elevation and paralyzed for hours on the glacier. God provided impossible permissions to climb into forbidden areas. We acquired a "miracle minibus" for transportation after the one we had rented was taken away. The list could go on and on. The diary of that trip appeared as my first book, Adventure on Ararat in 1973 (now out of print). Some of the highlights are in my Noah's Ark and the Ararat Adventure.
The reunion consisted mainly of remembrances of God's provision and protection. The more we talked, the more we remembered. To compare each one's memories and perspectives was priceless.
Each expedition member has walked with God ever since. Bultema is now in his 80's and is a leader in his church and community. Losier has owned several businesses and is a lifelong adult Bible teacher in his church. Ellison still does mountain rescue, but has expanded this into work with the fire department and SWAT Team. Seiter has pastored several churches and seen fruit as a marriage counselor. All have successful lives, marriages, and ministries.
That 1972 expedition didn't discover the Ark, but it did mark a turning point in the search. Others that followed benefited by our trials and began on better footing. We did, however, discover more of God on that trip, His nature, His power, and how we could fit into His plan. It was truly a "mountain-top experience" for all of us, and the reunion was a special time of remembrance and praise.
* Dr. Morris is President of ICR.