Atheist pilot mocked God, until he ran out of fuel in a snowstorm


By Mark Ellis —

Mark standing next to his plane
Mark standing next to his plane

Raised in the secular Seventies, completely un-churched, he had no room for God until he ran out of fuel in an Alaskan storm, miles from his destination.

“I was a God mocker,” says Mark Rose, founder of Genesis Alive, and the author of Last of the Long Hunters, a story of the pilots who fly the Alaskan Arctic.

Rose learned to fly at 16, and by age 22 had become a bush pilot who helped take care of a fleet of helicopters that worked on the Alaska pipeline. “My ego meter was on 101,” he admits.

One day he flew some hunters to the upper part of a large river on the Arctic. But on his return flight, carrying one passenger, several things went wrong. First, herds of caribou had moved in, covering his first and second choices for a landing spot. Then he began to run low on fuel, so he called ahead for a weather check at the small airport near Kotzebue, on the Baldwin Peninsula.

“Come on in, the weather’s fine,” the FAA flight service operator told him.

Kotzebue from the air
Kotzebue from the air

He decided to take the chance his fuel would hold out, but then weather conditions changed dramatically. “I ran into a snowstorm at night, and I couldn’t see the terrain, so I had to follow the gray ribbon of river below.” In the days before satellite weather imaging, the man had given him bad advice.

“All my options were evaporating as fast as I could fly.”

Rose had several friends – fellow pilots – who perished in similar flying conditions. There must be a way out, he thought. I don’t want to die at 22. I won’t get to experience marriage…

He had been flying on empty for 30 minutes. Then the engine started missing. “I was just waiting for silence and to have to crash at night.”

His mind turned to his very last option – God. Rose had never prayed before, but in desperation, he lifted up a silent prayer. If there is a God, I need your help now.

Then a voice spoke to him that was crystal clear. Son, you said the right thing. After he heard the voiceRose also experienced the sensation of “a light bulb” that came on in his mind.

Immediately after his prayer, the plane popped out of the snowstorm! “Before me were the beautiful lights of Kotzebue – it might as well have been the lights of heaven,” he recalls.

There was only one problem – he still had to fly another 20 miles over the Kotzebue Sound, a broad expanse of salt water north of the Bering Sea.

“That was a breath-holder,” he says. When he landed safely at Kotzebue Airport, his humanist worldview collapsed. There was no earthly reason his plane should have traveled such a distance with no fuel.

Rose believes God added an hour of fuel to his tanks to save his life. “When I landed I was a different boy. I was not a Christian, but I was a believer in God.”

He thought about his grandmother, the only Christian in his family. So gramma was right; there is something out there, he thought.

Rose started to date a Christian woman who challenged him to read the Bible for the first time. As he read the pages of Scripture, something surprising happened. “I fell in love with the God of the Bible – his reasonableness, his forgiveness, his justice,” he recounts.

But his stubborn heart was still not ready to make Jesus his Savior and Lord.

Then he had another brush with death in a helicopter that crashed, which completely flattened the seat he rode in.

About the same time, he missed a flight with some of the lead contractors for the Alaskan pipeline due to a

Rose with helicopter
Rose with helicopter

schedule conflict. Shortly after the plane took off, it crashed, killing everyone aboard.

Later, on a flight to Fairbanks on a bush aircraft, he began to reflect on his life. I’m not happy. This whole thing is not working, he admitted to himself.

Everything I read in the Bible is either a lie or its true. It’s all or nothing. From reading the Bible I understand God is my creator. If Jesus can raise someone from the dead and forgive my sins, that’s exactly what God has for me.

At that moment, Rose surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. “When I landed in Fairbanks I was a different boy, once again.”


If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here


  1. May GOD bless you. You have a wonderful story. I enjoyed reading it about how you came to believe the Bible is true and how you came to trust JESUS as your SAVIOUR. You will never regret it.

  2. This is a mind blower,just think how He kept you alive until the time of your conversion because you are one of His elect. That thought gets me everytime!!! I think every Christian should meditate on such things because it keeps the awe of God (Jesus Christ in the flesh) always before your eyes!!!

  3. What a wonderful, inspiring story! It really stirred my faith, and encouraged me to keep praying fir those friends and family who are “on the brink” of coming to Christ! Thanks Mark, for always writing such faith building articles.

    Mark’s story would make an inspiring book…I would read it! This article left me wanting more…actually it would make an exciting movie too. Maybe some things to pursue.

  4. God is perfection and all powerful. As Rose saw, God can do anything. All praise to our Father who loves us enough to send his Son, Lord Jesus Christ, to suffer the penalty for our sins and to wash us clean.
    May Rose continue as a child of God to disciple others and bring them to Christ.

  5. Nice story. I’m sure the people who have crashed prayed also, just before dying. Of course, folks will say that their god wanted them with him. There are countless numbers of “answered” and “unanswered” prayers. I say whatever it takes to make people comfortable with their lives, great. Live and let live. Again, great story. Good for the pilot. This atheist is so happy for him.

    • Hi Troy,
      I’m always astonished how atheists like to buzz around Christian websites like flies? What’s the great attraction for you? Is it a morbid sense of curiosity? There are plenty more interesting sites out there for you. If you do not believe that there is the Most High God, why bother sniffing around and criticizing those who do?
      A couple of your remarks are rather curious:1) ‘I’m sure the people who have crashed prayed also, just before dying.’ What makes you think that? Have you known them? Or do you think that this is what people generally do when they’re facing certain death? Do you think that you might pray when it comes to that? You know like just in case?Or do you just assume that they did and if so what is your assumption based on? It could have been a plane full of atheists.2)There are countless numbers of “answered” and “unanswered prayers”. Again, how would you know this? Are you maybe spying on praying people? How do you know when, where and why people might pray?
      By the way, have you visited any of the Muslim websites yet and left your replies by spelling Allah with a lower case a?

      • Great job making a bunch of assumptions about people. Did you ever think maybe Christian friends or family members sent Troy a link to try and witness to him and your **** *** had to get all defensive instead of showing God’s love? What a hypocrite.

        • Ah. I guess your printing finger points back at you then too, right? I guess we’re all hypocrites at some point.

          • Les, I kind of lean in Matt’s direction. However, yes, you are certainly right. We are ALL hypocrites and I am the chief of them. No false piety here. Bob could be having a bad day and got hooked on Troy’s tongue-in-cheek response. I suppose the tax collectors and prostitutes were sniffing around as well. And, yes, I get Troy’s point. Lose a daughter to cancer after pouring your heart out to God and it certainly looks like God was out shooting pool when Lauralynn went Home. But He wasn’t and I won’t get that answer till I see Him.

      • Bob did you stop to think that God was dealing with this young man., just as he dealt with Mark Rose.
        We are not special; Jesus came to save the lost. He did not isolate himself to believers; he sat with and loved sinners to bring them to repentance and salvation. You need to pray for sinners that Jesus will reveal himself to them and you need to love them as Jesus does. He died for all and he told us the greatest thing we can do is love. He may have a praying parent or grandparent or aunt or uncle out there interceding for Him its wonderful that an unbeliever will come to these sites and hear about Salvation.

      • bob wolf, I believe Jesus would invite Troy just as he is, just as you should have. You know we truly fight an unseen, good against evil, not against people, that is the lie the devil wants us to believe. Troy isn’t the enemy here, evil and the devil are, and you just allowed that evil to control you. I am so grateful to see someone with an interest and show kindness, as Troy did. This child of God is so glad for him, and you are welcome here!

      • Bob – Troy’s assumption is based on statistics. In the US, a plane full of atheists will almost never happen. You also don’t need to take a fatal plane crash as an example. Think of all the people who have lost loved one to illness, etc. despite praying for them. There are also many survivors of various afflictions who have not received prayers.

        Mark’s case is really a classic of example of failing to consider all of the available data. By far, the most comprehensive study on the effectiveness of prayer showed no effect:

        By the way, god is a proper noun. Both of these us are correct:

        “I don’t believe in God.”, and
        “I don’t believe in a god.”

      • Bob…I don’t think Troy was being disrespectful, and curiosity is better than none. Although I am a Born Again (spiritually into the kingdom of God through Jesus…the only WAY into Heaven)…I know Spiritual things are foolishness to the unbelieving mind. Who wants someone to believe just because someone says it’s so. What they need is a PERSONAL REVELATION of God. HOW. CAN AN ATHEIST KNOW GOD IS REAL? THE SAME WAY A Jewish person can know Jesus REALLY IS THE MESSIAH/Son of God…Just ask God…IF you are REAL…REVEAL YOURSELF TO ME and I will believe…IF Jesus is YOUR SON/ The MESSIAH…REVEAL it to me and I will believe. As Jesus says seek and YOU WILL FIND…ASK and YOU WILL RECEIVE…Blessings in Christ Bob.

    • Troy i have to believe that something stirred your spirit to read and comment on this story, i wonder how many times God acted on something in your life that you weren’t even aware of , because of your unbelief, i think if you would look back over your life you will see it and i will pray for him to reveal himself to you in a mighty way to give you a testimony as he did this pilot, i pray it will happen soon because in his word he says he will turn you over to a reprobate mind you will believe a lie and be damned, then if you dont believe in hell either i promise if you die you will know hell is real and so is the fire. if you turn your self over to God what have you got to loose and you might find out like the pilot did its all real and its awesome, a life like no other, –May do whatever it takes to save your soul, that is my prayer for you

    • Troy, one thing you said which nobody else has clarified, “” There are countless numbers of “answered” and “unanswered” prayers.” God answers all prayers! Sometimes the answer is no, sometimes the answer is wait and sometimes the answer is yes. When He says no to me, I thank Him because He knows what’s ahead in my life, I don’t.

    • Troy,

      All of our lives have been spared many times I feel, some obvious, some not so. In my other book “Last of the Long Hunters” coming out in June, I relate several other incidents where my life was spared that were obvious before this time. I also mention some in-your-face incidents where I saw others perish by fire that were horrific. In each case the responsible people were warned and elected to defy warnings the and paid the price, many times taking others with them. This is how the Bible works too. Defy the warnings and one pays a price, sometimes only on Earth and sometimes twice. The Bible is a life manual, like the set of manuals we had for our aircraft and helicopters. I saw people think themselves smarter than the manufacturer’s manuals or FAA weather regs and destroy their lives and others with them many times For me this was obvious when my eyes were opened, including the importance of the Bible in relationships. If people are all doing their own thing, sparks fly as soon as the “honeymoon” is over. With this new connection with the Maker, I now found the instructions for life to make things work as I was truly designed, like my fleet of helicopters. When I found a mate who understood the same it worked out fine. More than just the statutory rules, I had a new dynamic in my life that answered prayer on a moment by moment basis, same as I got introduced to that night, and one who and speaks to both parties when the “sparks fly”. With these new elements it all came together where before it would be hopeless.

      I hope you can keep searching and find the peace I found. Besides you should see the happy men who married my girls!


    • I’ve always wondered if there really are true atheists. I would rather believe there is a God and then find there is no God THAN Not believe in God and find there truly IS a GOD. Praying for you Troy! <3

  6. God does work in ways we don’t understand. I would think that most people when faced with death will pray to God, that is not the same as being saved and living a Christian life. I’m sure in these plane crashes where hundreds are killed, aat least 99% of them parayed to God before it crashed. Why he doesn’t save everyone is a mystery we as humans can’t answer. We only can place our trust in God and his son Jesus Christ. He has a plan for all of us.

  7. Love it. God is so gracious and merciful.
    I remember just three months ago I was stranded in New Mexico. I hit something in the road and it took out a huge chunk of my oil pan. The “oil” light went on and the engine stalled for a quick second. I immediately began praying “Lord, just get me back to where I am staying.” Which was 7 miles away. The car immediately began to drive again. I prayed all the way back. Up 4 incline hills and parked the car. Waited a minute and turned it back on.
    I told my brother and 5 men which included 3 mechanics what happened. They said, “There is no way you drove another 7 miles up hills with a busted oil pan with a hole that big. It’s unheard of and you probably need a new engine.” I said, “Nope. The Holy Ghost told me it was just the oil pan.” I had the oil pan replaced and the car runs fine. The engine was checked and all was fine. They said, “How on earth?” I said, “It was nothing but God. I immediately started praying. He set angels around me. Angels brought me back.”
    That instance left them all dumbfounded. I’m no atheist, I have always believed in God my whole life and I know what He can do. He alone gets all the glory.

  8. Question has anyone got any source to confirm this story, simple as that.

    Bob wolf we know your a committed cHRISTIAN and love gOd which is fine, but think what troy meant out of all people who have been in a bad situation the Christian ones would of more than likely prayed as that’s what you would expect them to do. Personally im happy for you if you really believe gOD chose to refill a plane in mid flight. But personally I doubt it.

    • Its the truth. That M4 in the picture was the ship. She holds 38 usable. When I filled her without trying she sucked up 40.8 gals. I carried that fuel slip around with me for years. We always flew on time, I was 45 Min over +++. Gauges had been locked on E for over 40 mins. Not a good feeling over water. I also had a highside gen failure and other things going wrong. It had all ganged up on me, no matter how prepared I was. Now that I look back, it was all God. The FAA guy had been in that country for over 20 years when he encouraged me to come in. He still feels bad about it, but knows why. He is a believer also with 38,000 hours.

      Lots more to the story not published for space. I don’t know why I was spared. I had gone on S&R for many that didn’t make it that were my friends. If God did it for me, He will do the same for you if you humble yourself. Maybe not by voice, but He will show Himself Powerful to you and any on else who reaches out honestly.


  9. Of course you doubt it Mark. When you do not believe God exists it is par for the course for you to doubt anything God does so tell us something we don’t know.

    • I always find it curious how Christian’s are soooooo quick to completely discount what a non-believer has to say. There’s only really one side of the conversation, that of the Christian. In speaking to “Christian’s” they never really look you straight in the eye, their more concerned with validating their belief and trying to cram it down ones throat, as where I don’t have a problem with what they believe one way or the other. If your happy and content, good for you. But they try and make you feel guilty because your a non-believer, as if because of their belief their somehow better than you. I also find Christian’s are so quick to judge and who are they to judge??? I also find Christian’s to be hypocrites in that they feel they can be forgave of their sins simply by asking and then sin again. I say this to Christians, For one day, one day, live by the Ten Commandments.

  10. We may not be related even though we share a last name, but now I can call you brother. Welcome to the family and safe flying until we all fly together.

  11. This is a wonderful story and there is no reason whatsoever to doubt it. If you do, I’m sure there is a way to contact this man and even go visit him. Find out for yourself if it is true. I have no doubts. This sort of thing does happen and I absolutely know that God has saved my life on numerous occasions, before and since recommitting my life to Him.

    To my Christian friends, please don’t be too hard on the doubters. It is impossible to understand the things of the Spirit without knowing Him. Give them credit for coming in here and posting in a civil manner, even with their doubt. There but for the Grace of God, go all of us. We were all lost and without Him at one time.

    Blessings and welcome to all, Christians and doubters alike. Christians, stand strong for Him in love. And doubters, keep searching, because He promises, “He who seeks God will find Him when the seek Him with all of their hearts.” It is SO worth the effort to find out for yourselves if He is real.

  12. Although you were not a believer, I suspect your grandmother spent many hours praying for you . Praying for your salvation and against evil that had you believing a lie . Being a ” Christian” is certainly a big step of faith until you start experiencing things you can’t explain , but what grabbed me about the things you said was the love you experienced for God . To have a relationship with him is indescribable . Enjoy your awesome journey with your Father.

    • You got that right on the prayer deal! The next year when I did receive Christ I had gone to church with my pre-wife before I made the decision. I was on their list when one of my 318’s crashed and my life was spared. This happened several times before but I was ignorant to the truth. When I was extracted from that last one I was in the rear seat of a twin otter and decided it was time. Whole Bible or nothing, creation story and all, I had read it and got it. I now better understood the geology I had been in for years and the fact that we live in a post flood world, feature forming speaking, not the ‘Very Good” one God originally made for us. I felt my life pass from death to life in that moment and the light come on inside just like that night fight before. After this things started changing for me. I properly courted my pre-wife to wife status, retrained into a job that kept me home more, and soon all I gave up I got back, I was doing all three, flying, using my gifts and starting a family! Now all with a balanced and proper perspective, thanks to God!




  14. Mark Rose has an awesome testimony-Glory to God! And besides the miracles he has experienced here on earth, there is also the eternal home waiting in Heaven when he will meet this awesome God face to face. For those of you who “doubt” think about what is beyond this temporary existence. I am confident that the best is yet to come because I KNOW the God that Mr. Rose KNOWS and I have No doubt that Mr.Rose is 100 percent right. May anyone who hasn’t given God an opportunity to show Himself strong on their behalf seek after Him and experience all that He has for them.

    • FOLKS ITS SAD THAT THAT WE HAVE TO BE SHOWN THAT GOD IS REAL. I ran over my son when he was four, and the doctors said too much was broken and out of place to do anything. My only hope was to get him to children’s healthcare, they could do something. we got him there. But I wanted to hurt myself because I was doing a lot of things that I should not have been doing, so I blamed myself. but I was too chicken to follow through THANK GOD. I prayed to GOD and told him I would change my ways if he would just let him live. so I went back to the hospital and waited. when the doctors came in I asked them how he was and they said do you want the good news or the bad. I said we had to hear both, and the doctor said well the good news is he is going to live, but the bad news is he is never going to grow, because of where the brake was on his pelvis. so I asked what did they do in the operating room and they said he was not in the operating room, nothing else was wrong. GOD did as I asked and when that doctor said the exact words I had asked for, I knew God did it and put all the other parts back in place. he is now about 300 pounds about six foot six. THANK YOU GOD I LOVE YOU SO MUCH

  15. I thank God for your life. May He use you to do great exploits for the Kingdom of God….You must have a great purpose. May it be fulfilled to the glory of God. God bless you.

  16. So you became a christian after surviving from a plane disaster. I believed you are very lucky. But I would like to ask a a simple question. How about those people that didn’t make it ? There are so many people that died from planes crash every year. I believed they do prayed to God the moments before the impact. But why they didnt make it?

    • I was on a flight where 111 died right next to us on another Jet, my HS classroom was salt and peppered empty seats. I have no idea why I was spared. Some are spared, some go to heaven, some to hell. I was spared other times. In ww2 the Russians called it charmed. Jesus mentioned the tower that fell and named the number who perished. Life in heaven is far better than here. He also mentioned he even sees the sparrow that passes. He knows you, even how many hairs are on your head. I remember when my hero upperclassman died and took a family with him flying commercially, saying to myself right after I heard of it “there is no God”. That one set me for years but I was wrong because I was ignorant of the Word.

      It was not my time. I deserved to die, I was an egotistical sinner and I knew it. God elected not to allow me to die and I’m glad I had a chance to live a Christian life, what a ride! I could share other stories that are more intense than that night, but I was ignorant of God and he had compassion on me.

      Those are questions for God. I later found out life is a vapor in Gods eyes and that we should praise Him every day. I also know that the next life is incomparable to this one, like a grub in the bottom of a pond vs a bird set free. God will show us in His time. Your question strikes home, I gave it my best shot..


  17. 1st ) I’d like to say good morning and may God Bless you all.

    2nd ) I’d like to welcome the Atheists because they’re here for a reason even if they don’t know it.
    It has been my personal experience that an atheist who comes to a Christian site is really looking for answers to their own life and in hopes of finding something that’ll prove they’re wrong in the way they see God and look at life. I call them future Christians and I pray that God will open their eyes and heart one day soon.

    3rd ) I believe in other plane mishaps people did pray but what did they pray for is the question. Was it for God to save them, well maybe he did and at the point of death God took their souls home with Him. ( We’ll never Know)
    The thing is God loves us and sometime he’ll put us to a test that might cost us everything we know just to save us. God didn’t promise us a rose garden here on earth but He did promise us one in the next life if we follow Jesus.

    4th ) God answers all prays in His time and His way, not our way and our time, so many get tired of waiting and say there is no God or the answer wasn’t what we wanted so we turn away from God and this opens the door for Satan to do his dirty work to take us to Hell with him.

    5th ) Christians, quit being short tempered and hypocritical, answer the atheist questions the best you can. They’re looking for answers of their own and when you put them down you’re hurting their spiritually. I sure would hate to die and think I have to answer for that.

    6th ) Atheist, quit looking at Christians as perfect because they’re not, they make mistakes the same as everyone else. I’m 62 and I make mistakes all the time but I repent of them everyday.

    This was a great story and I loved it, May God Bless each of You with his Love.
    Thank You

  18. This is a personal claim with no proof. No evidence. No reason to thank the christian god vs. the muslim god or the hindu gods. They all think their god or gods is the right one and everyone else is wrong.

    They all have their prayers answered daily by their god or gods and are comforted. Hindus aren’t saying en masse “You know, Lord Ganesh isn’t answering my prayers. This sucks! I’m becoming a Christian today!” They aren’t saying that because they ARE getting their prayers answered. They’re just as delusional as any other believer in any other religion with no proof, looking for positive results from prayer and ignoring negative results. It’s all just personal claims and a holy book with more personal claims. The Spiderman Comic book is not proof Spiderman exists OR that he has superpowers. It’s very very very simple.

    • “They all think their god or gods is the right one and everyone else is wrong.”

      Don’t Atheists think they are right and all religions/and theists are wrong?

  19. Religion is nothing more than a cheap parlor trick.
    Here are the rules:

    1. Always praise God.
    2. If your prayer is answered praise God.
    3. If your prayer is not answered refer to rule #1.

    The world must abandon this nonsense.

    • Most of people abandon the “nonsense” when life is good but when the rubber meets the end of road…. even Christopher Hitchens did not refuse the prayers of other people and what happened in the last moments of his life is everybody’s imagination. That’s why your brave last sentence, in the final end, sounds such a nonsense. You would expect the people who really know that there is nothing after death to go in the most peaceful way. And the people who wasted their life with God to be the most desperate in their final moments. From what I know it’s not the case, unless I missed the last memo.

  20. To conclude my piece, I will say that I have had the privilege to meet many fine believing pilots in Alaska since, and also led several new one’s to Christ. For those not yet in the faith, keep seeking truth and asking for assistance. Hope to see you someday out in the Arctic watching the great caribou herds!

  21. Mark Rose thank you for writing your story so others may read that God does save those who call out to Him. Even though we may run from Him for awhile, He does go after us.

    I had a close call when my then boyfriend was teaching me to drive. I was in the right lane of a four lane road. Two going one way and two the other way. A car edged out too far from a side street towards me . I checked the lane on my right and started turning my wheel to move into the lane on my left to avoid the car when my boyfriend pulled the emergency break in fear that I was going to hit the car that edged out. He did not know that I had checked the left lane and was already into a turn . The car spun to the left and continued to spin across three lanes of traffic as I cried out to God. We landed parallel to the sidewalk facing the right way without hitting the pole on the corner right near me. I know God saved us. He cares!

  22. Yes God exists. He is not like us. You have to experience His presence. He says I AM HE. He can manifest himself to us. He is Spirit. We are worldly He is holy and heavenly. He does not have physical body. How can I explain His presence it has life in it, has feelings and has power to create. He is soft as well as thundering, He is enveloped by glory, by holy atmosphere that we will go blind if we look at him. If child asks parents how big is God they will answer very big yes it is like that. He chooses to manifest or visit the person who denies His presence. One day He will visit my son. Pray that He will reveal Himself to my son. My son is trying to break my faith about His existence. I saw Lord Jesus in glorified form; He lifted me with the rays which were coming from His eyes. He visited me because I was praying continuously.

  23. Dear Rose,
    Your testimony is a blessing and an encouragement. My husband is a pilot and when you talk about your Ego meter shooting 101 believe me i have seen a higher degree, but never mind God is in absolute control.
    Am encouraged knowing that sooner or later all my worries will be turned to laughter. My husband will confess Christ

  24. A fool says in heart that there is no God. I confess you are great God that has saved me from a lot of dangerous event. Thank you lord Jesus.

  25. Thank you Mark for sharing. My son is an athiest and although I can’t understand why he doesn’t see the same awe inspiring greatness of the only savior I do pray he comes to repentence and faith in Jesus! Jesus can break every chain and remove scales and bitterness on hearts and I’m praying this for my son too. I am encouraged. Thank you and Praise Jesus!

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