God’s work: Casey and the bear

Farmville Enterprise February 6, 2019

Our last Sunday School lesson was about Jesus performing the first of his many miracles. He changed the water into wine at a wedding in Cana, as described in John 2. Our teacher asked us exactly what constitutes a miracle and if many people these days try to explain away what could be divine intervention after extraordinary, seemingly impossible events. We ended up discussing the rescue of 3-year-old Casey Hathaway in Craven County just three days before. On a Tuesday afternoon the boy was playing with his sister and a young relative in the back yard of his great-grandmother. The other children went inside but Casey did not. After looking for him in the surrounding woods for 45 minutes the great-grandmother called 911. Craven County Sheriff’s deputies responded within minutes and a massive and methodical search began. Hundreds of professional searchers and volunteers walked through the rough terrain with only the professionals continuing overnight. Temperatures dropped into the 20’s.  On Wednesday and Thursday, through the rain and the cold, numerous volunteers and law enforcement officers as well as seven search and rescue teams from surrounding counties searched for Casey.  At approximately 3:00 in the afternoon on Thursday the Craven County Sheriff’s Office posted this on Facebook:

“Several ponds on a nearby property were checked on Wednesday and Thursday by swift water teams from local fire departments. Drones flew over many acres nearby. A helicopter from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol will return tomorrow to help with search efforts. It was grounded today because of bad weather.

Volunteers who arrive in the morning will be assigned search areas if and as they become available. We greatly appreciate the public’s desire to help us with this important task. However, the terrain is treacherous. Areas are flooded and filled with sinkholes, even the trained searchers are having trouble navigating safely. Keep praying we #FindCasey. “

People across NC and beyond were pulling together to pray for Casey to be found. On Thursday evening, just after 9:00 and 55 hours into the ordeal, he was.

Casey was taken to the Emergency Department in remarkably good condition with only a few scratches, a very low core temperature and a bit of frostbite on his fingers. Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes said that it was by the grace of God that Casey survived. “The coldness, the wet and just the terrain we were dealing with, this kid was looked after, make no mistake about it.” The point that has sparked perhaps the most conversation and national media attention is that Casey told his mother in the ED that he spent time with a bear. Some people are wondering if God truly used a bear to keep the boy from hypothermia, maybe one of the black bears that hibernate in January in North Carolina. The Bible records a significant number of instances where God uses animals in ways that go against their natural instincts. Others wonder if perhaps there were an animal that looked like a bear. A neighbor’s toddler grandson used to call our dog a bear, so I would like to think that God provided a Great Pyrenees to keep Casey warm and comforted. Whatever happened, even if Casey only imagined that an animal was with him, there is no doubt that God answered prayers and graciously brought the young boy back to his family. A three-year-old surviving 55 hours outside in those conditions is what I call a miracle.

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With people, this is impossible. But with God, all things are possible.’” (Matthew 19:26)

“Jesus replied, ‘Things that are impossible with people are possible with God.’” (Luke 18:27)


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