By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
In 2013, something rare happened in Turkey: after decades of bloody conflict, there was a cease fire between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the Turkish Government/Army.
For a professional film crew, directed by Brent Braum, it was iconic in it meant the group of Ark Explorers Inc., with lead mountaineer and Byron Center resident Kevin DeVries, would be able to make its last attempt to discover if Noah’s Ark made its final resting place on Turkey’s Mt. Ararat’s nearly 17,000-foot Eastern Plateau. Released last year, the independent film, “Finding Noah,” became something of a phenomenon with more than 500,000 views on its trailer, more than 65,000 likes on its Facebook page and more than 30,000 theater tickets sold on its limited release. The film also garnered several awards from the Montreal World Film Festival, Napa Valley Film Festival, Twin Cities Filmfest and the Sun & San: The Mississippi Film & Music Festival.
It also helped launch a speaking career for DeVries who is scheduled to be at the Kent District Library’s Wyoming Branch, 3350 Michael Ave. SW, Thursday, April 21, for a private, free screening of the film at 5:45 p.m. along with a Q&A with DeVries to follow.
“We were there to prove scientifically that the ark was there,” said DeVries, who formed a connection with KDL while working on his four-part book series “Explorers of the Lost Ark.” The book series recounts the five summers (2009-2013) Ark Search LLC, explored Mt. Ararat in search of Noah’s Ark.
DeVries was a travel agent when he reached out to the group offering his services and expertise in mountain climbing. He had climbed five of the seven continental summits, skied to the North Pole, kayaked all five of the Great Lakes and is a 2013 Boston Marathon Qualifier and Finisher, so DeVries knew what was needed to survive the rugged conditions of Mt. Ararat. A devout Christian, DeVries admitted he had an interest in the story of the ark especially since similar tales appear in cultures around the world.
“It’s kind of one of those holy grails from the Bible,” DeVries said of searching for Noah’s Ark. “If you can prove it one way or another, it would have tremendous ramifications.”
Proving the ark’s existence and location, which according to the Bible “…came to rest on the mountains of Ararat” (Genesis 8:4), could rewrite textbooks in such fields as zoology, geology, and anthropology, to name a few. A flood of that proportions certainly would have had an impact on land formations, DeVries said.
But in the end, as the film points out, it is not so much the destination, but, as DeVries noted sounds a little clichè, the journey.
“It is really about the brotherhood,” DeVries said. “I made friendships with these people that will last a lifetime.”
The adventure certainly impacted DeVries life who is an inspirational speaker travelling the United States to talk about the film and his personal experience in several faith-based programs and events. He continues to climb with his goal of completing The Explorers Grand Slam – Climb the Seven Summits and Ski to the North and South Pole. For the record, he needs to climb Mt. Everest and Mt. Vinson – the tallest peaks in Asia and Antarctic respectfully – along with skiing to the South Pole.
At the April 21 event, DeVries said the film, which is now out on DVD, will be shown with the audience having an opportunity to ask questions afterwards. The film, DeVries said, does an excellent job in telling the story of the search, not only for Noah’s Ark, but in finding yourself. Or, as a quote from DeVrie’s own website puts it “Sometimes we have to travel the ends of the earth to reach the end of ourselves and find a new beginning in God that never ends.”