The Arctic Wooly Bear and Village Missions

Posted in: Director's Blog
Tags: , , , ,
Date: January 18, 2013

I recently watched a program on Animal Planet about springtime in the artic. One creature that they referred to as the Wooly Worm (Banded Wooly Worm or Banded Wooly Bear) particularly caught my attention. The Wooly Worm, similar in appearance to the Wooly Worms I’ve often seen in the country, freezes solid in the winter and then comes to life again in the spring! I was intrigued that such an insect would exist, so I did some further research using that ultimate resource, Wikipedia. Another article refers to the moth as Gynaephora groenlandica.

According to the article in Wikipedia, the moth Pyrrharctia Isabella,

. . . can be found in many cold regions, including the Arctic. The banded Woolly Bear larva emerges from the egg in the fall and overwinters in its caterpillar form, when it literally freezes solid. First its heart stops beating, then its gut freezes, then its blood, followed by the rest of the body. It survives being frozen by producing a cryoprotectant in its tissues. In the spring it thaws out and emerges to pupate. Once it emerges from its pupa as a moth it has only days to find a mate before it dies.

Not only does it freeze solid, but also this freezing and thawing occurs several times. Again, according to the article,

Caterpillars normally become moths within months of hatching in most temperate climates, but in the Arctic the summer period for vegetative growth and hence feeding is so short, that the Woolly Bear feeds for several summers, freezing again each winter before finally pupating.  Some are known to live through as many as 14 winters.

What a thoroughly amazing, complex, and intricately creative God we serve! How could anyone believe that such an insect could evolve through time and chance? How could it adapt to totally freezing? What hidden mechanism enables the Wooly Bear, after every bodily function has ceased, to spring to active life once it thaws in the spring? A God that is beyond our ability to fathom creates a lowly insect that is also beyond our ability to fathom.

How does the Wooly Bear relate to Village Missions? I marveled at the Wooly Bear, but I should equally marvel at the springing to life of someone who is spiritually dead! Paul writes in Ephesians 2:5: “even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” I was dead for many years but God brought miraculous life to my soul in July 1972, shortly before my twenty-second birthday. He continues to bring dead souls to life all across the United States and Canada, as He is doing all across the world. Often He does so in the “unremembered” places we serve and in the unlikeliest of people!

We will face many challenges in 2013 and I’m sure the spiritual battle will grow ever more difficult. But is that a challenge that can faze the God who creates the Wooly Bear or can bring us to new life in Christ?

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