Christian Life 

Revival in the Hebrides (1949)

The revival in Lewis is the last (most recent) move of God in the British Isles where "God came down" in tranforming power.

Note:  The following article (a transcript of a taped message on the Hebrides Revival) was first published in 05/10/2007. The report was given by Duncan Campbell, a preacher in the Revival. The video of the illustrated presentation by Douglas Mowat has been since added in 2020.)

first published 05/10/2007


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RevivalThere are two things that I would like to say in speaking about the revival in the Hebrides. First, I would like to make it perfectly clear that I did not bring revival to the Hebrides. It has grieved me beyond words to hear people talk and write about the man who brought revival to the Hebrides. My dear people, I didn't do that. Revival was there before I ever set foot on the island. It began in a gracious awareness of God sweeping through the parish of Barvas.

Then I would like to make it perfectly clear what I understand of revival. When I speak of revival, I am not thinking of high-pressure evangelism. I am not thinking of crusades or of special efforts convened and organized by man. That is not in my mind at all.

Revival is something altogether different from evangelism on its highest level. Revival is a moving of God in the community and suddenly the community becomes God conscious before a word is said by any man representing any special effort.

Now I am sure that you will be interested to know how, in November 1949, this gracious movement began on the island of Lewis. Two old women, one of them 84 years of age and the other 82 - one of them stone blind, were greatly burdened because of the appalling state of their own parish. It was true that not a single young person attended public worship. Not a single young man or young woman
went to the church. And those two women were greatly concerned and they made it a special matter of prayer.

 
The following video is of an illustrated talk given by Douglas Mowat in the village of North Kessock 

A verse gripped them: "I will pour water on him that is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground." They were so burdened that both of them decided to spend so much time in prayer twice a week. On Tuesday they got on their knees at 10 o'clock in the evening and remained on their knees until 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning - two old women in a very humble cottage.

One night, one of the sisters had a vision. Now remember, in revival, God works in wonderful ways. A vision came to one of them, and in the vision she saw the church of her fathers crowded with young people. Packed to the doors. And a strange minister standing in the pulpit. And she was so impressed by the vision that she sent for the parish minister. And of course he knowing the two sisters, knowing that they were two women who knew God in a wonderful way, he responded to their invitation and called at the cottage.

That morning, one of the sisters said to the minister, "You must do something about it. And I would suggest that you call your office bearers together and that you spend with us at least two nights in prayer in the week. Tuesday and Friday if you gather your elders together, you can meet in a barn-a farming community, you can meet in a barn-and as you pray there, we will pray here. Well, that was what happened, the minister called his office bearers together and seven of them met in a barn to pray on Tuesday and on Friday. And the two old women got on their knees and prayed with them.

Well that continued for some weeks--indeed, I believe almost a month and a half. Until one night-- now this is what I am anxious for you to get ahold of - one night they were kneeling there in the barn, pleading this promise, "I will pour water on him that is thirsty, floods upon the dry ground" when one young man, a deacon in the church, got up and read Psalm 24. "Who shall ascend the hill of God? Who shall stand in His holy place? He that has clean hands and a pure heart who has not lifted up his soul unto vanity or sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing (not a blessing, but THE blessing) of the Lord." And then that young man closed his Bible.

And looking down at the minister and the other office bearers, he said this - maybe crude words, but perhaps not so crude in our Gaelic language - he said, "It seems to me to be so much humbug to be praying as we are praying, to be waiting as we are waiting, if we ourselves are not rightly related to God." And then he lifted his two hands - and I'm telling you just as the minister told me it happened - he lifted his two hands and prayed, "God, are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?" But he got no further. That young man fell to his knees and then fell into a trance.

Now don't ask me to explain this because I can't. He fell into a trance and is now lying on the floor of the barn. And in the words of the minister, at that moment, he and his other office bearers were gripped by the conviction that a God-sent revival must ever be related to holiness, must ever be related to Godliness. Are my hands clean? Is my heart pure? The man that God will trust with revival - that was the conviction.

When that happened in the barn, the power of God swept into the parish. And an awareness of God gripped the community such as hadn't been known for over 100 years. An awareness of God - that's revival, that's revival. And on the following day, the looms were silent, little work was done on the farms as men and women gave themselves to thinking on eternal things, gripped by eternal realities.

Now, I wasn't on the island when that happened. But, again, one of the sisters sent for the minister. And she said to him, "I think you ought to invite someone to the parish. I cannot give a name, but God must have someone in His mind for we saw a strange man in the pulpit, and that man must be somewhere." Well, the minister that week was going to one of our great conventions in Scotland. At that convention he met a young man who was a student in college and knowing that this young man was a God-fearing man, a man with a message, he invited him to the island. "Won't you come for 10 days - a 10-day special effort? We have had so many of them over the past couple of years, but we feel that something is happening in the parish and we would like you to attend."

This minister said, "No, I don't feel that I am the man, but quite recently there has been a very remarkable move in Glasgow under the ministry of a man by the name of Campbell. I would suggest that you send for him." Now at that time I was in a college in Edinburgh. It wasn't very easy for me to leave but it was decided that I should go for 10 days. I was on the island within 10 days.

I shall never forget the night that I arrived... We got to the church about quarter to nine to find about 300 people gathered. I would say about 300 people. And I gave an address. Nothing really happened during the service. It was a good meeting. A sense of God, a consciousness of His Spirit moving but nothing beyond that. So I pronounced the benediction and we were leaving the church I would
say about a quarter to eleven.

Just as I am walking down the aisle, along with this young deacon who read the Psalm in the barn. He suddenly stood in the aisle and looking up to the heavens he said, "God, You can't fail us. God, You can't fail us. You promised to pour water on the thirsty and floods upon the dry ground - God, You can't fail us!"

Soon He is on his knees in the aisle and he is still praying and then he falls into a trance again. Just then the door opened--it is now eleven o'clock. The door of the church opens and the local blacksmith comes back into the church and says, "Mr. Campbell, something wonderful has happened. Oh, we were praying that God would pour water on the thirsty and floods upon the dry ground and listen, He's done it! He's done it!"

When I went to the door of the church I saw a congregation of approximately 600 people. Six hundred people--where had they come from? What had happened? I believe that that very night God swept in in Pentecostal power - the power of the Holy Ghost. And what happened in the early days of the apostles was happening now in the parish of Barvas.

Over 100 young people were at the dance in the parish hall and they weren't thinking of God or eternity. God was not in all of their thoughts. They were there to have a good night when suddenly the power of God fell upon the dance. The music ceased and in a matter of minutes, the hall was empty. They fled from the hall as a man fleeing from a plague. And they made for the church. They are now standing outside. Oh, yes - they saw lights in the church. That was a house of God and they were going to it and they went. Men and women who had gone to bed rose, dressed, and made for the church. Nothing in the way of publicity... But God took the situation in hand - oh, He became His own publicity agent. A hunger and a thirst gripped the people. 600 of them now are at the church standing outside... And then the doors were opened and the congregation flocked back into the church.

Now the church is crowded--a church to seat over 800 is now packed to capacity. It is now going on towards midnight. I managed to make my way through the crowd along the aisle toward the pulpit. I found a young woman, a teacher in the grammar school, lying prostrate on the floor of the pulpit praying, "Oh, God, is there mercy for me? Oh, God, is there mercy for me? " She was one of those at the dance. But she is now lying on the floor of the pulpit crying to God for mercy.

That meeting continued until 4 o'clock in the morning. So we left them there, and just as I was leaving the church, a young man came to me and said, "Mr. Campbell, I would like you to go to the police station." I said, "The police station? What's wrong?" "Oh," he said, "There's nothing wrong but there must be at least 400 people gathered around the police station just now."

Now the sergeant there was a God-fearing man. He was in the meeting. But people knew that this was a house that feared God. And next to the police station was the cottage in which the two old women lived. I believe that that had something to do with the magnet, the power that drew men. There was a coach load at that meeting. A coach load had come over 12 miles to be there. Now if anyone would ask them today, why? How did it happen? Who arranged it? They couldn't tell you. But they found themselves grouping together and someone saying, "What about going to Barvas? I don't know, but I have a hunger in my heart to go there." I can't explain it; they couldn't explain it, but God had the situation in hand.

This is revival dear people! This is a sovereign act of God! This is the moving of God's Spirit, I believe in answer to the prevailing prayer of men and women who believed that God was a covenant-keeping God but must be true to His covenant engagement...

That continued for almost 3 years. Until the whole of the island was swept by the mighty power of God.
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Skeptic (Guest) 05/08/2014 21:50
This is a very interesting and deep subject; Revival? Can it happen, or indeed has it ever happened?
From my research, I have learnt that Duncan Campbell (like Martin LLoyd Jones, believed in the baptism of the Holy Spirit as an experience subsequent to conversion).
I cannot accept this, as such would be contrary to very plain Bible teaching. I cannot,therefore understand why otherwise very sound men raised in the Reformed Faith would depart into the realms of unbiblical and extremely dangerous experiential theology?
Maybe some erudite believers on this forum may shed some light on this? From my limited research into this phenomena, I may add that it is very difficult, well nigh impossible to confirm if what was reported to have happened on that island was a "move of God".

John Miller 07/08/2014 14:32
"Skeptic" I agree with you. Scripture teaches very plainly that we are sealed with the spirit when we believed. I do believe that if a believer is being used of God for some specific purpose or service and is a suitable vessel for His empowerment, he may be conscious of the the power of God's Holy Spirit in a very distinct way.

I believe that there are many scriptures that are examples of this, which explain the expression "being filled with the Spirit. We must always, of course, understand that God does not give His Spirit by measure (John 3:34).
John Miller 07/08/2014 14:34
The title of The Spirit should have had a capital letter in the first line of my previous post. I apologise for the error.
Skeptic (Guest) 07/08/2014 21:52
Thanks John for that, at least I am not on my own!
This "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" AFTER conversion as you seem to suggest is unbiblical-especially as the Pentecostals teach it is accompanied by speaking in tongues etc. If as you say we are "sealed" when we believe, well, then "sealed" means we have the "Spirit of Christ dwelling in us, as Romans 8.9 tells us.
When you say "he may be conscious of the power of God's Holy Spirit in a very distinct way"; does the Bible actually teach that? I would suggest that statement is verging on Pentecostal/Charismatic experiential theology?
But, again thanks for your reply.
Looking at the article again, do you believe that two 80 plus year old ladies were on their knees for 5-6 hours? If I am on my knees for much more than ten minutes I get cramp, and I am nearer half their age!
Penny Lee 08/08/2014 12:20
Yes, I believe these two 80-year old ladies most likely were on their knees to this degree. I had an aunt who was on her knees in the middle of the night during the coldest day of the year, in an unheated house, praying for me while I slept oblivious many miles away. She awoke during the night with a strong feeling that 'something was wrong' with me and actually got up, knelt by her bed and prayed specifically for me for at least half an hour. She was 92 at the time!

I also knew as I grew up not to disturb her when we arrived at her house which she shared with her sisters, as she spent time reading the Bible and praying in one room for hours every day. I wonder how much good was done due to the time this dear lady spent in prayer. Instead of being sceptical that some people can, and do, pray to this extent, perhaps we should be trying to improve our own dedication to serious prayer. I now pray on my knees twice a day following a most awful year where everything just seemed to go wrong and almost finished with my husband's death. This is what finally made me take prayer more seriously and I also pray on every occasion for revival for the area where I live, so that's twice a day. I think I've finally got the message that revival such as is described above doesn't happen until Christians dedicate themselves to serious, continued and heartfelt prayer for others, and it may go on for many years. It may be even after the person's death before the results of their prayers are seen. However, they will be seen because God has promised He will reward such earnest and dedicated intercessory prayer. So I'll keep praying, and if I don't see revival in my lifetime then I have every confidence it will still happen sometime in the future.
Editor 08/08/2014 15:44
"And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.
Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come". (Matt 12:31-32)

I'm not sure what it would take for a believer to commit the 'unforgiveable sin' but (personally) I wouldn't want to get anywhere near that possibility.

The closest that I have ever seen someone get to it (I think) was a minister who denounced from the pulpit the 'manifestations' during the Lewis Revival. During that sermon an elderly lady who had come to know the Lord in the midst of that time broke down in grief and wept in the pew behind me at what she was hearing.

I feel that believers need to be very careful in
(a) defining how the Spirit works (and will work) in any particular situation or a believer's life and
(b) denying any post-conversion experience of the Holy Spirit
(c) seeking (as if we could) to push the Holy Spirit into a box shaped by our own personal/denominational theology and/or experience.

Charles G. Finney was "powerfully converted in the morning of the 10th Oct. 1821". Subsequently he "received overwhelming baptisms of the Holy Ghost, that went through me, as it seemed to me, body and soul". (Note the time-lapse between 'conversion' and 'baptisms'; with the latter described in the plural.)
This experience is far from exceptional.

For recommended reading I would suggest:
Lewis Revival:
'Channel of Revival' (A biography of Duncan Campbell by Andrew A. Woolsley

'Sounds from Heaven' by Colin and Mary Peckham (Mary was a product of the Lewis Revival

'When God Came Down' by John Ferguson

'Skye Revivals' by Steve Taylor (the religious awakening on Skye between 1800 and 1860)

'Revival Man' by George Mitchell (story of revivals amongst fishermen and God's use of Jock Troup)

'Glory in the Glen' by Tom Lennie (A History of Evangelical Revivals in Scotland 1880 - 1940)

'The Cambuslang Revival' by Arthur Fawcett (The Scottish Evangelical Revival of the eighteenth century)

'The Year of Grace' by William Gibson (A history of the 1859 Ulster Revival)

'...if my people' by William Fleming (1958 revival centred in the mid-Antrim village of Ahoghill, Northern Ireland)

'The Revival We Need' by Oswald J. Smith (in his foreword Rev. Jonathan Goforth writes: "Had I the wealth of a millionaire I would put [the book] in every Christian home on this continent and confidently look for a revival which would sweep round the world".)

Starting in 2009 I published a series of articles by a dear brother and good friend (Rev. Alex Muir; now in glory) on the subject of 'Revival'. The first of these (with links to the others in the series) can be found at -
http://www.christianstogether.net/Articles/164548/Christians_Together_in/Christian_Life/Revivals_in_the.aspx

A tribute to Alex and be found at -
http://www.christianstogether.net/Articles/190668/Christians_Together_in/Around_the_Region/Wider_News/Rev_Alex_Muir.aspx

I have all the above-mentioned books in my 'library' and if anyone wants further information on them then please be in touch by e-mail. (Please do not leave one-to-one personal messages on this, or any other, thread. Such postings just create unhelpful and unwelcome 'clutter'.)

PS. Please note (those to whom this applies) I am increasingly running out of patience with regular posters who persist in remaining anonymous. The invitation is either to (a) register with the site or (b) e-mail me privately.
So doing will impart an honest credibility which anonymous postings otherwise lack.
Skeptic (Guest) 09/08/2014 23:21
(Please do not leave one-to one personal messages on this or any other, thread. Such postings just create unhelpful and unwelcome 'clutter'.)

Then, by the grace of God, if you are not interested in anything other than your own narrow theology, why don't you just make your website available to members only? By this means you will attract 'Christians' to your own liking and none other? While your website is open to all and sundry I see no lawful reason why I cannot comment here.
Is an anonymous comment any less valid than one of your members? Many are uncertain who the author of Hebrews is, is this book less valid?
With the greatest of respect, your reasoning is very shallow.
Does the name David Stewart mean anything to you?
May God bless your website.
Editor 11/08/2014 09:29
Skeptic, If you are serious when you say: "May God bless your website", one way that you can be involved in the answer is to pray that my time will no longer be wasted with those who wish to use the response facility to pursue personal vendettas and who do not have have the Christian integrity to make themselves know.
Skeptic (Guest) 11/08/2014 22:26
Editor,
I sincerely apologise to you if I am causing you any unnecessary stress. I have no personal vendetta whatsoever. My only 'vendetta' as it were is to contend for the truth.
The very fact that you believe Charles G Finney is a man of God, and I believe the exact opposite shows how opposed we are in Biblical theology. I believe Finney was an apostate, or worse, and yet you hold him in such high and glowing terms.
The very fact that you erased my comment should sound alarm bells to your members.
Truly, I pray that God would make much use of your website, of course I do-Romans 8.28.
Editor 12/08/2014 12:30
Dear Skeptic, It is not 'stress', but just the time it takes to respond to messages like the one you have just left. I do not want to have these threads taken up with one-to-one dialogue; neither do I want them (as I have mentioned before) to be used for 'personal vendettas' (as some anonymous posters continue to do).

If you are earnesty to 'contend for truth' then I would kindly ask you to register with the site.

Many thanks,

Ed.
PS Whatever you think of Finney, please note my comment "This [Finney's] experience is far from exceptional throughout the ages and around the world.

If you want to discuss post-conversion experiences of the Holy Spirit then (as a registered site member) you would be welcome so to do.
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Christians Together in the Highlands and Islands > Christian Life > Revival in the Hebrides (1949)