"A MISSIONARY ON THE SLOPES OF MOUNT ARARAT."
The Scottish architect MacKenzie travels the world telling about Protestantısm. The missionary, who for a long time has inhabited Mount Ararat joked, “Noah’s Ark brought me here.”
This has happened in the very east of the east, where many people won’t set foot because they say “There is terror, or mines, this and that” in a place where there isn’t even a toilet, in a village with only 10-15 houses, surfaces a missionary.
The Protestant missionary Donald MacKenzie has blended in so well that none of the villagers condemn him. We meet in the house of Musa Kotal, a guide with Donald MacKenzie. Musa lives in an Armenien village, Örtülü, 25km away from Doğubayazıt [Dogubayazit is the town nearest to Mount Ararat]. We go to Örtülü in the hope of finding a guide to help us up the mountain. Just as we were about to enter the house MacKenzie emerges.
“What on earth are you doing here?” we ask in quite an arbitrary way.
At first he is reticent but then says calmly “I am a Christian missionary” He distributes Bibles.
MacKenzie has a caravan type vehicle. It’s like a little house with a bed, plates and books. He travels the world in this caravan telling about Protestantism. Most of the time he stays in the skirts of Mount Ararat. As he is telling us this he suddenly runs inside as if he has forgotten something. He comes back with a Bible. This is a Turkish bible. He suggests we read some of the pages.
Musa’s sister is making us tea as we speak. Where are you from?
“Do you have an occupation?”
“I am an architect but I don’t do that. I am a missionary.”
"How long have you been a missionary?"
“For about 10 years.”
“How did you come here?”
(laughing) “Noah’s Ark brought me…It’s here…”
“What exactly do you do here?”
“I tell the people here about Protestantism.”
“How do you communicate with people?”
“People who know English always turn up here. And I know a little bit of Turkish.”
“Do people react to you?”
“What I see here, it would be wrong to call reaction. Most listen with respect.”
“Have any become Protestant?”
“Only God knows that.”
“Do you go to other countries?”
“Yes I have been to many. One of the countries I spent a long time in was Israel. I got a lot of reaction there. They get very angry at missionaries. Turkey’s very relaxed compared to there.”
“Have you had similar experiences here?”
“Once I gave Bibles to Erzurum University students [large town in eastern Turkey]. The police came when they saw the bibles. They seized the bibles and took them to the police station. They held me for a few hours then let me go.”
“Have you ever climbed the mountain?”
“A few times, it’s very dangerous. It’s not a well-known mountain. Everyone goes from wherever they like. There are loads of people we don’t know about up there.”
A Christian in the home of an Alevi, everyone listens to Mackenzie with small smiles. Then someone jumps in unable to stop himself. His name is Bayram. “Oh come on”, says Bayram, “Do you think after all this time we are going to change religion. Our people change to whatever religion people talk about.”
Musa’s family are Alevi. The grandfather of the house sits in the corner as the table is set. The television set displays a mixture of Turkish then Kurdish. The meal set out on the floor sports chicken and rice. MacKenzie sits and prays.The grandfather waits smiling for MacKenzie to finish his prayer. Then he too prays.