Volume. XXII, No. 27
Sunday, 30 December 2007

From the Pastors Heart: Swarming Together

One of the most challenging and interesting experiences I had in Africa was to observe safari ants.  They have been called army ants, and are also known as driver ants or siafu in Swahili, which is a common language in East Africa.  There are at least 70 species of safari ants and there are another 60 names at the rank of subspecies.  They are unlike other ants families and often build anthills.  They do not live there permanently, but travellers in central and east African countries can see anthills quite often.  Some articles about these safari ants say that each colony may contain over 20 million individuals.  Among them, just like other ants, there are soldiers and workers.  Soldier ants have a large head and pinchers.  It means that they will sting you if you are not careful with them.  My African friends were afraid of them.  They told me that these ants could eat anything before them.  They may eat rats, scorpions, rabbits, cats, and even dogs if they happen to be on their way.  When they march, they march in columns, which may be 12 inches wide and 200 feet long.  If they reach a home, they will enter and swarm all over the inside of the house.  If they come into your house, you may have to evacuate from your own home and let them take over.  They will not live there forever, but only for a couple of days.  However, if you do let them inside your homes and later return, you will not see varmints for a long time.  If these safari ants come on to our body, they will not bite at once.  They will slowly climb up inside our clothes and we will not notice them until . . . .  Yes, until they will bite all together at once.  They have huge pinchers.  You may want to chase them away.  However, it is dangerous to scatter them.  That’s why Africans do not disturb them, but instead they let them go and do whatever they want to.  There is no wonder that some of my African friends were frightened when they saw me pouring kerosene on the track of safari ants and setting a fire.  After all, they were coming toward my house, and I did not know what to do.  There are many interesting stories about safari ants.  One of them is as following: “One missionary was going to preach, and before the meeting he stood afar off and communed with his soul and the Lord.  The problem is that he communed in the path of pinching safari ants.  They did not strike until he was in the meeting and ready to preach. He is said to have made the point that Satan is working to attack in everything we do.  The ants struck.  The missionary jumped, and said that Satan seemed to have struck him, asked the group to sing a hymn, and he headed for the outdoors where he had to strip and take the ants off.”


Obviously, my purpose for writing this article is not to talk about safari ants.  Basically what I am trying to say is about the swarming nature of this small creature.  Carl Zimmer contributed an article to New York Time’s science section on November 13, 2007.  The title of his article is “From Ants to People, an Instinct to Swarm.”  Swarming is not a unique feature of ants only.  We have seen photos showing swarming fish, birds, locusts, or other animals.  However, ants are especially good at swarming.  Some of the following stories or illustrations are from the article mentioned above.  Dr. Ian D. Cousin has spent lots of time observing army ants in Panama.  He saw that they even erected bridges in order to make their processions as quickly as possible.  He is a mathematical biologist at Princeton University and the University of Oxford.  He said, “They build the bridges with their living bodies . . . They build them up if they’re required, and they dissolve if they are not being used.”   Here are some more of his observations: “Army ants returning to their nest with food travel in a dense column. This incoming lane is flanked by two lanes of outgoing traffic. A three-lane highway of army ants can stretch for as far as 150 yards from the ant nest, comprising hundreds of thousands of insects.”  What really intrigued Dr. Cousin was why these ants do not move to and from their colony in a mad and disorganized scramble.  Here is one of his findings: “If the ants turned away too quickly from oncoming insects, they lost the scent of their trail.  If they did not turn fast enough, they ground to a halt and forced ants behind them to slow down.  Dr. Couzin found that a narrow range of behavior allowed ants to move as a group as quickly as possible.  It turned out that these optimal ants also spontaneously formed highways. If the ants going in one direction happened to become dense, their chemical trails attracted more ants headed the same way.  This feedback caused the ants to form a single packed column.  The ants going the other direction turned away from the oncoming traffic and formed flanking lanes.”


Then, he turned his eyes to locusts.  As you know, locusts are everywhere.  However, for some mysterious reasons, they sometimes come together in huge bands and begin to march across the land.  They usually devour anything before them.  Why is it so?  Then, here is an interesting discovery: “The scientists found that when the density of locusts rose beyond a threshold, the insects suddenly began to move together.  Each locust always tried to align its own movements with any neighbor.  When the locusts were widely spaced, however, this rule did not have much effect on them.  Only when they had enough neighbors did they spontaneously form huge bands.  ‘We showed that you don’t need to know lots of information about individuals to predict how the group will behave,’ Dr. Couzin said of the locust findings, which were published June 2006 in Science.”


But there is a different side of swarming creatures.  “Mormon crickets will sometimes gather by the millions and crawl in bands stretching more than five miles long.  Dr. Couzin and his colleagues ran experiments to find out what caused them to form bands.  They found that the forces behind cricket swarms are very different from the ones that bring locusts together.  When Mormon crickets cannot find enough salt and protein, they become cannibals.  ‘Each cricket itself is a perfectly balanced source of nutrition,’ Dr. Couzin said. ‘So the crickets, every 17 seconds or so, try to attack other individuals. If you don’t move, you’re likely to be eaten.’”  This collective movement causes the crickets to form vast swarms. “All these crickets are on a forced march,” Dr. Couzin said. “They’re trying to attack the crickets who are ahead, and they’re trying to avoid being eaten from behind.”  Here are some more words: “Swarms, regardless of the forces that bring them together, have a remarkable ability to act like a collective mind.  A swarm navigates as a unit, making decisions about where to go and how to escape predators together.”


Now I turn to you and myself as members of the one body of Jesus Christ.  Paul speaks about the body of Christ in Ephesians 4:15-16: “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”  All the believers of Jesus Christ are to be swarmed together.  They are to form one body.  Jesus discussed this point in Matthew 12:30, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”  It is so sad to see that there are so many wandering sheep that do not know to how to join other sheep or are not willing to join others but want to be loners on this planet.  However, we ought to know that we are purposed to be together.  Hebrews 10:23-25 says, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”  Let us be together.  Let us be swarmed together and be one body.  Individuals may have their own desired directions, but there has to be a good balance between their desires and oneness in Christ.  By being together, we can testify of our faith together.  There may be many pulls in this world.  Let us not forget that we are redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ.  Let us be swarmed together under the headship of Jesus Christ.  When the Holy Spirit regenerated our souls, He gave us that spiritual instinct to be together with other believers.  After all, we belong to the family of God.  Come together and worship the Lord together.  Thank you for your good services this year for the Lord and His people.  May the Lord bless you accordingly!


With praises and thanksgiving,

Your Pastor

More Lively Hope




Ps Ki & Session members wish all worshippers a very Blessed & Spirit-filled New Year.

Please Note: Communal Lunch after Worship Service on 13 Jan 2008.

Christmas Concert CD available for $5. Please see Sis Sally Teng.

Flower Roster 2008 - Volunteers urgently required. If interested, please put your name on the list on the notice board.

Cambodian Missions: To pray for the Mission Trip, please fill in your names on the prayer chain list that will be circulated today.  Suggested prayer list is available.

Watch Night Service: Please come and share your testimonies.

Service Roster for Jan-Mar 2008 is available. Please see Dn Edwin D’Mello.

Christmas & New Year Greetings received from Elder & Mrs Peng Kiat Khoo (S’pore), Bro Surish (Laos); Sisters Judy Creamer (USA), & Mag Yu (Shanghai).


Looking ahead:

Sixth Missions Cambodia: 15-30 Jan 2008.

Family Bible Camp at Victor Harbor: 24-26 April 2008. Speaker: Bro David Weng.


Praise and Thanksgiving:

Journey mercies: Dn David & Sis Giok Yeo & family; the Gong family (Adl); Sis Juanita Tong (Perth) & all others who arrived safely.

Church activities: Christmas Day Worship Service; Working Bees.

Dedication of & contribution to Hope Church by Sis Juanita Tong.


Prayer items:

Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Chua, Rev Peter Clements, Rev Edward Paauwe, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros S Dhamarlingam, Makoto Kobayashi, Raphael Ng’s father, Richard Pearson, Winston Selvanayagam; Grandpa Ki; Sisters Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson, Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Veradi, Sylvia White & Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law; Auntie Oei & others in affliction.

Cambodia Missions - Ebenezer & Hope BPCs.

Laos Missions - Bro S Dhamarlingam.

India/Pakistan Missions - Pastors & Believers.

Kuching Missions - Teo family - encouragement.

Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Bro H S Lim.

Journey Mercies - Dn Tony & Sis Sally Law (Noosa); Bro Lincoln Law (Tas); Sisters Lee Lan Chong (Adl) & Gillian Ong (Melb); Mrs Christina Foo & Amanda (Kuching).

Jobs - Bro Daniel Volvricht; Sis Juanita Tong.

God’s guidance - Sis Juanita Tong as she settles in Perth.

The Lord’s provision for a new church van and floor coverings for our Sunday School rooms.

Sister B-P Churches in Australia.



© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041