The Bright and Shining Revival
An Account of the Hebrides Revival
(Notes from the Welsh Revival)
“This is revival! (quote from Rev, Owen Murphy), “When men in the streets are afraid to open their mouths and utter godless words lest the judgment of God should fall; when sinners, overawed by the presence of God, tremble in the street and cry for mercy; when, without special meetings and sensational advertising the Holy Ghost sweeps across cities and towns in supernatural power and holds men in the grip of terrifying conviction; when every shop becomes a pulpit; every heart an alter; every home a sanctuary and people walk softly before God – this is revival!
The Welsh Revival of 1904, continues Rev. Murphy, “Was like a mighty tornado. The Spirit of God swept across the land until mountains and valleys, cities and villages were filled with the mighty manifestations of God. Churches were crowded and meetings went on day and night. Prayer, singing and testimonies would sweep over congregations in torrents and hundreds turned to Christ. Never in the history of Wales had such indescribable scenes been witnessed.”
Dr Campbell Morgan, after witnessing the scenes of revival in Wales, returned to Westminster Chapel in London and declared, “Here is revival that comes from heaven; there is no preaching, no order, no hymn-books, no choirs, no organs, no collections and finally no advertising! Now think of that for a moment! There were organs – but they were silent. There were ministers – but there was no preaching – they were among the people praising God! Yet the Welsh revival is a revival of preaching, for everybody is preaching. No order and yet it moves from day to day, county to county with matchless precision, with the order of an attacking force. No song-books, but- ah me, I nearly wept over the singing! When the Welsh sing they abandon themselves to the singing. No choir did I say? It was all choir….. Wales is ablaze for God, already 50,000 converts have been recorded and the great awakening shows no signs of waning. It is sweeping over hundreds of villages and cities, emptying saloons, theaters and dance halls, and filling the churches night after night with praying multitudes. Go where you will; into the bank; the store; the trains. Everywhere men are talking about God.
Fire Breaking Out
If you could stand above Wales, looking down over it you would see the fire breaking out here and there and yonder, and somewhere else, without any pre-arrangement. It is a divine visitation from God – 0h let me say this reverently, “God is saying to us, ‘See what I can do without the things you are depending on: see what I can do through a praying people who are prepared to depend wholly and absolutely upon Me.’”
Like a tree shaken by a mighty storm, Wales was moved by the power of God until almost every home in the nation felt its impact. Newspapers in bold headlines carried the news of the amazing scenes taking place. So great was the fear of God, and conviction gripped the people, that in some communities crime disappeared – Magistrates were presented with a blank paper, no cases to be tried. And, to commemorate the occasion they were presented with white gloves! In more than one place the Post Office’s supply of money orders were exhausted as people sought to make restitution by paying their debts.
Saloons and theaters were closed and stores were sold out of Bibles and New Testaments. Members of Parliament, busy attending revival services, postponed their political meetings: Theatrical companies coming into districts found no audience, for all the world was praying.
God Can do it Again
This is revival – A mighty God moving on behalf of men and women who have cried out to Him Can God do this again – I believe He is waiting to release His awesome power – He is now preparing the way through dedicated and praying, believing people. There is a time to pray and then there is a time to receive God’s answer, for prayer is not a one-way communication. The men and women who prayed in the wonderful revival in the Hebrides Island got hold of God’s promise – and the fact that He was a covenant-keeping God who kept His word. This story is meant to encourage you to do the same as they did – for God has not changed, His word has not been voided – He is still waiting to respond to a praying, believing people who will not let Him go.”
The Hebrides Revival 1948-1952
The Hebrides Islands are a small group of islands off the West coast of Scotland. In 1949 -1952, God poured out His Spirit in response to a handful of praying men and women. It doesn’t take multitudes to move the hand of God – but those who were determined to “push through the crowd” and touch the hem of His garment.
The First Stirring
At a meeting of the Church of Scotland, in Stornaway, a group of men discussed the awful condition of the church in their communities. The worldly places were crowded and the church were virtually empty. The young people had just about disappeared and it seemed that many churches were about to close their doors. No-one at the meeting dreamed that this would be the preliminary of an amazing spiritual awakening.
Among the many people who were concerned about the state of the church, was a small group of men from Barvas, the district that was to become the center of the revival.
They agreed to meet in a small barn (shed) by the side of the road, to pray. They were given the revelation that God was a covenant- keeping God who had made covenant promises! “If this is true,” they reasoned, “We can enter into this covenant and if we keep our part then He must keep His. Has God given us a covenant promise for revival?” Immediately the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14, came to them, “If My people which are called by My name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.”
That same night they entered into a solemn covenant with God to pray for the community and to humble themselves in prayer until revival came.
For about 5 months they prayed and waited on God – three night, three times a week they wrestled and prayed until 4am or 5am. Finally one night, a young deacon arose from his knees and began to read Psalm 24: 3-5, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His Holy place? He that has clean hands and a pure heart – he shall receive the blessings of the Lord.”
In response to this searching challenge from God they fell upon their knees in confession and re-dedication and began to pray even more earnestly. An hour later three of them were laying prostrate on the floor – they were exhausted. By five o-clock revival had come! The barn was suddenly filled with the glory of God, and the power that was let loose filled that little barn, shook the whole community.
The Praying Sisters
Around the same time in a little cottage in the village of Barvas, two elderly sisters – Peggy and Christine Smith, were also praying. Peggy was almost blind, and Christine was bent over with Arthritis. They were 84 and 82 years old. They also had been seeking God for revival, and to them came the promise, “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.”
One night, knowing that the others had gathered together to pray in the barn, they had gathered around their little peat fire to spend the night in prayer. Peggy suddenly had a vision of the church, crowded again with young people. She sent for the minister, Rev. James Murray Mackay, and told him what God had shown her, asking him to encourage his elders and deacons to come together for special times of waiting upon God.
On the same night when the presence of God visited the barn, the glory swept into the little cottage and God spoke to the two women, revealing to them the name of the man God wanted to use in the visitation – The Rev. Duncan Campbell, a Presbyterian minister and a great man of prayer. God said, “In two weeks I shall send upon this community the greatest spiritual awakening it has known.”
A wire was sent to Duncan Campbell, who was ministering in the Highland town of Skye, but it was discovered that he was already booked for another meeting. He sent a reply, “It is impossible for me to come at this time but keep praying and I will come next year.”
When the reply came back and was told to the sisters they answered, “That is what man has said, but God has said that He will be here in two weeks.” In the meantime Duncan Campbell’s meetings in Skye were cancelled, due to the fact that the tourist board had monopolized the accommodation for the convention. Within two weeks he was in Barvas!
Duncan Campbell Comes to Barvas
Duncan Campbell crossed the Minch in the Loch Seaforth. He was planning to stay for 10 days in Barvis.. Little did he know what awaited him. As the ship docked and Duncan stepped ashore, he was met by the Rev. James MacKay and two of his elders. One of the elders greeted him and asked, “Mr. Campbell, are you walking with God?” “Well at any rate I can say that I fear God,” was Duncan’s reply.
The First Meeting
The first meeting was held in the old parish church. Many people had gathered in a great expectancy but nothing exceptional happened at that meeting. Duncan Campbell appeared discouraged and so one of the deacons went to him and said, “Don’t be discouraged, it is coming. I hear the rumbling of heaven’s chariot wheels. We will have another night of prayer and then we will see what God is going to do!”
They went to a nearby cottage and about thirty knelt in prayer and began to travail before the Lord. About 3 am God swept in and a dozen or so were laid out prostrate on the floor, and lay there speechless. Something had happened – God had moved into action as He had promised. Revival had come and men and women were about to find deliverance.
As the group left the cottage they found men and women seeking God. Lights were burning in the homes along the road – no one seemed to be thinking about sleep. Three men were found lying by the roadside in a torrent of conviction, crying out for God to have mercy on them! The Spirit of God was moving into action and soon the parish of Barvas was to be stirred from end to end.
The Second Stirring
On the second night buses came from the four corners of the island, crowding into the church. Seven men were being driven to the meeting in a butchers truck when suddenly the Spirit of God fell on them in great conviction and all were saved before they reached the church building! As the preacher preached his message, tremendous conviction swept down.. Tears rolled down the faces of the people and men and women cried out for mercy from every corner of the church. So deep was their distress that some of their cries could be heard outside in the road. A young man beneath the pulpit cried out, “Oh hell is too good for me.”
The meeting closed when the people began to move out. As the last person was leaving a young man began to pray under a tremendous burden of intercession. He prayed for three quarters of an hour and as he continued to pray people kept gathering outside until there were twice as many outside as there had been inside. When the young man stopped praying the Elder gave out Psalm 132 and as the great congregation sang the old hymn, the people streamed back into the church again and the meeting continued until 4am.
The moment the people took their seats, the Spirit, in great conviction began to sweep through the church, and hardened sinners began to weep and confess their sins.
The Police Station
As the meeting was closing someone excitedly hurried to the preacher, “Come with me! There’s a crowd of people outside the police station; they are weeping and in great distress. We don’t know what’s wrong with them but they are calling for someone to come and pray with them.”
The minister described the scene outside the police station; “I saw a sight I never thought possible. Something I shall never forget. Under a starlit sky, men and women were kneeling everywhere, by the roadside, outside the cottages, even behind the peat stacks, crying for God to have mercy on them.”
Nearly 600 people, making their way to the church, suddenly experienced the power of God falling upon them in great conviction, and like Paul on the road to Damascus, fell to their knees in repentance.
Revival had come in power – for five weeks it swept across that one parish. Duncan Campbell conducted four services every night; in one church at 7pm, in another at 10pm and a third at midnight and then back to the first one at 3am – then home between 5-6am – tired – but happy to be in the midst of such a wonderful move of God…