Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. (Psalm 116:15)
Dr. Henry M. Morris III, CEO of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), went home to be with our Lord on Saturday, December 12, 2020. The announcement came as a shock to me. The day before, I heard that he was taken to the hospital with COVID-19 along with other complications. We immediately started praying for God’s healing hand to touch him. On Saturday morning my Gideon Camp lifted him up in prayer. When I got home, I found the announcement on the ICR Facebook page that he had passed away. It broke my heart to find the news. I loved Dr. Henry deeply. He was my employer at ICR, but more than that, he was a brother in Christ, a mentor, and a friend. To me, he was someone I could trust, someone to whom I could look up, and someone whom I could emulate.
I first met Dr. Henry in July 2008 when I applied for the position of Web Administration Assistant at ICR. ICR hired me, and I started work in August 2008. Even though Dr. Henry was “the boss,” I found him very approachable and easy to talk to, but he was still “the boss.”
Not long after I started working at ICR, I found out that Dr. Henry started the Genesis Sunday School Class at First Baptist Church Dallas (FBCD) where June and I were members. It was not long before we joined his Sunday School class. Dr. Henry was such an excellent Bible teacher. He would teach through books of the Bible exegetically. He would cover four or five verses in a lesson and produce six to eight pages of notes for our personal study. I still have all of his notes on file. Oh, how I loved sitting under his teaching. It is through Sunday School that I feel I really got to know Dr. Henry and grew to love him so dearly.
In 2009, ICR started the School of Biblical Apologetics (SOBA), which offered a Master’s Degree in Christian Education. The school would be designed to be taken online, but the initial classes were held on the campus of ICR. I signed up at the first opportunity.
One of the requirements for the degree program was to write a Master’s thesis or produce a “capstone project.” God gave me a vision of building a scale model of Noah’s Ark as my capstone project,[i] which I also intended to donate to ICR. So, I went in to see Dr. Henry to run my idea by him and get his approval. He listened to me attentively and asked if I had ever done anything like that before. I admitted that I had no experience in building anything like that, but I had built hundreds of models from kits. I told him that I was pretty handy with tools and that I felt that since God had given me the vision for the model, He would supply the necessary skills.
I could tell that he had his doubts, but he gave me his approval and blessing, and I started the work in March 2010. Nine months later, I completed the first deck of the model, and I invited Dr. Henry and his wife, Jan, to our home for dinner and for the first viewing of my project. His reaction upon seeing it assured me that any reservations he might have had were gone.
Two years later and after completing the second deck, Dr. Henry asked me to bring the model to ICR for an open house/fundraiser for ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History. That was the first hint I had that he wanted to display the model in the Discovery Center.
It took me almost five years to complete the model, which I turned over to ICR on January of 2015. For me the model was a labor of love, and Dr. Henry graciously accepted it as a gift of love, and it now resides as part of the Ark Exhibit at the Discovery Center.
In 2017, the physical work of building the Discovery Center began. It was Dr. Henry’s dream to build a world-class learning center that would display the glory of God’s creation along with the scientific research that confirms the truth of God’s Word. Everything had to be first-class. All of the ICR team pitched in with Dr. Henry leading the way. All of the work was dedicated to the glory of God and the project was daily bathed in prayer.
The project not only had to blend Bible and science to proclaim God’s creation, but it needed to lead the visitor to the understanding that the Creator was also the Savior and soon coming King of kings and Lord of lords. To that end, Dr. Henry wanted the final attraction in the exhibit hall to present the Gospel in three-dimensional form by way of a diorama. A wealthy donor donated his collection of figurines and miscellaneous buildings and structures that he had displayed in his own house. The collection included thousands of figurines and hundreds of structures, buildings, and miscellaneous objects, but the space allotted for the diorama was limited.
Opening day for the Discovery Center was scheduled for Labor Day 2019. Earlier that year, Dr. Henry called me to his office and assigned the building of the diorama to me. My task was to find “talent” that would create the landscaping for the 16 scenes from the life of Christ that would be represented. My first thought was to find a railroad modeling club that would be willing to lend their talent in creating the diorama while making some extra money for their club. There must be hundreds of such clubs in the Dallas Metroplex, but I could not find one willing to take on the task. I found one gentleman from Fort Worth that did that kind of work, but he assured us that he (alone) could not complete the job by opening day. I found another “artist” that showed interest, but he scoffed when he saw our collection and considered the task beneath him to pursue. Then I found a professional company in Dallas with an entire team of artists and craftsmen. They submitted a quote of between $175,000 and $250,000 to do the job and they estimated that they could complete the job within a couple of weeks of opening day. When I gave the news to Dr. Henry he balked at the cost and rejected the idea.
With all my resources exhausted, I suggested that we could stack boxes of differing heights and shapes on the platform to isolate the scenes and then drape the boxes in black cloth to match with the black platform and wall. Dr. Henry was not very happy with that idea, but with opening day approaching, he was willing to take that option.
The following week, I had to be at an event in California for a week. When I returned, Dr. Henry called me into his office and announced that I would be building the diorama and it would not be with boxes and black cloth. It would have landscaping, hills, a Jordan River for Jesus’ baptism and a Sea of Galilee with Jesus walking on water, a Garden of Gethsemane, Golgotha, an empty tomb, etc. I protested. I have never done that kind of work. I have never worked with that material. But Dr. Henry assured me that I could indeed do it. “You built the Ark,” he said. “You can do this.” Well, I did not do it by myself. With a great team of talented ICR employees and volunteers, we had the diorama completed long before opening day and in plenty of time to have it ready for the several preview showings before opening day.
All the credit goes to God Who provided the talent, the skills, and the vision for that beautiful creation. But it was Dr. Henry’s vision, his encouragement, and his trust in me to get the job done. There was no way that I was going to let that man down.
I love you, Dr. Henry. Heaven is a better place because you’re there. I hope to see you again very soon.
You can read a tribute to Dr. Henry here:
You can watch a video tribute to Dr. Henry here: https://vimeo.com/490003556
[i] “Building the Ark” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/03/01/building-the-ark/