A Crisis Turned Around

Have you ever been hit by a drastic storm? More than a century ago in the Midwest of the United States…

A horrifying storm approached the farms of southwestern Minnesota on June 12, 1873. It was a storm that chewed up all the knee-high fields of grass and wheat within a few hours! It was a storm of hungry hoppers with wings!

The Minnesota Legislator and the Grasshopper, 1873-77, by Walter Trenerry. In Minnesota History, vol. 36, no. 2 1958 pp. 54-61

These Rocky Mountain locusts used to stay for only a year or two but this time were haunting between 1873 and 1877. Can you imagine that these locusts actually swept across forty counties across Minnesota, damaging more than 500,000 acres of crops?

Unexpectedly these locusts dig a hole in the ground after scouring the food every fall and lay their eggs in the ground, about 2-10 cm deep. Then their eggs hibernated underground during the winter and then induced in the spring, when the snow melted. As their wings matured within 40 to 50 days, they continued to devour the crops in a new year!

Local farmers, by all means, tried to stop this plague. Frantically they even used net fishing, smoking, and digging deep pits to trap locusts. They also invented a tool called Hopperdozer, which is tar and syrup on the iron skin, running in the ground with a horse. The sticky locusts were burned in the fire. Yet these efforts were fruitless and most farmers had to evacuate.

Out of despair, Governor John S. Pillsbury of Minnesota, finally announced April 26, 1877 as a statewide prayer day in Minnesota, taking the advice of community leaders. People spent the day praying in churches. All the schools, stores, organizations, and factories were closed. Grasshopper Chapel, the church built for prayer at that time, is still located at 22912 Chapel Hill Rd, Cold Spring, MN 56320, testifying the governor leading the whole state to pray humbly to God. Shortly after that day of prayer, a rare April snowstorm miraculously swept down south to Minnesota for several days to deposit a thick layer of icy snow to freeze the underground grasshopper eggs to death! So even another troop of grasshoppers, that returned later, had no basis to stay long. The plague came to an end!

Grasshopper Chapel

Due to COVID-19, many people have been infected and even died. Facing this worldwide disaster, let’s humble ourselves and turn our eyes to God the Creator for His mercy and deliverance. God has said:

“When I… .. command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land… .. ” (2 Chronicles 7: 13-15)

(Sources: Cartwright, R. L.. “Grasshopper Plagues, 1873–1877.” MNopedia, Minnesota Historical Society. http://www.mnopedia.org/event/grasshopper-plagues-1873-1877 (accessed April 21, 2020))

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