Revival In The Hebrides

Note: This is a transcript of a taped message on the Hebrides Revival in 1949 which was preached by Duncan Campbell in 1968. The Hebrides is a group of islands extending in an arc off the Atlantic (west) coast of Scotland.   (Resource: Excerpt from The Herbrides Revival )

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 and his work was already planted in the Isle of Lewis!

What is revival? When I speak of revival, I am not thinking of high-pressure evangelism. Revival is a moving of God in the community and suddenly the community becomes God conscious and being touched by God!

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. 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. They got on their knees at 11pm and remained on their knees until 3 or 4am–two old women in a very humble cottage.. One night, one of the sisters had a vision. In the vision she saw the church crowded with young people, and a strange minister standing in the pulpit. She was so impressed by the vision that she sent for the parish minister. He responded to their invitation and 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 in the cottage.

About six weeks later–one night they were kneeling there in the barn,pleading to God using Isaiah 44:3 for His 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 looked down at the minister and the other office bearers, 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 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. 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.

When that happened in the barn, the power of God swept into the parish. And an awareness of God gripped the. 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.

One of the sisters sent for the minister. And she said to him, “I think you ought to invite someone to the parish. 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 administer with a message, he invited him to the island for 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 responded that he didn’t feel like he was the suitable candidate. Then he recommended someone else, which is me (Pastor Campbell)!

I shall never forget the night that I arrived at the piers in the mail steamer. I was standing in the presence of the minister. The minister turned to me and said, “I know Mr. Campbell that you are very tired-you have been traveling all day by train to begin with and then by steamer. And I am sure that you are ready for your supper and ready for your bed. But I wonder if you would be prepared to address a meeting in the parish church at 9 o’clock tonight on our way home?” Well, it will interest you to know that I never got that supper.

We got to the church about quarter to nine to find about 300 people gathered. 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 24 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 then he falls into a trance again. Just then 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. Where had they come from? I believe that that very night God swept in Pentecostal power-the power of the Holy Ghost 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. 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. Men and women who had gone to bed rose, dressed, and made for the church. Nothing in the way of publicity that a certain man was going to be conducting a series of meetings in the parish covering 10 days. But God became His own publicity agent. A hunger and a thirst gripped the people. 600 of them now are at the church standing outside.The blacksmith, turned to me and said, “I think that we should sing a psalm.” And they sang and they sang and they sang verse after verse. Oh, what singing! What singing! And then the doors were opened and the congregation flocked back into the church.Now the 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,was one of those at the dance, lying prostrate on the floor of the pulpit praying, “Oh, God, is there mercy for me? Oh, God, is there mercy for me? ”

That meeting continued until 4 o’clock in the morning. I couldn’t tell you how many were saved that night but of this I am sure and certain that at least 5 young men who were saved in that church that night are today ministers! At 4 o’clock, we decided to make for the manse. We make no appeals–you never need to make an appeal or an altar call in revival. Why, the roadside becomes an altar. We just leave men and women to make their way to God themselves–after all, that is the right way. God can look after His own. Oh, God can look after His own! And when God takes a situation in hand, I tell you He does a better work! 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.” The sergeant there was a God-fearing man. 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. I went along to that meeting. We had to walk about a mile then I heard someone praying by the roadside. I could hear this man crying to God for mercy. I went over and there were four young men on their knees at the roadside. Yes, they were at the dance but they are now there crying to God for mercy. One of them was under the influence of drink, but a young man he wasn’t 20 years of age. But that night God saved him and he is today the parish minister!

Now when I got to the police station, I saw something that will live with me as long as I live. I didn’t preach–there was no need of preaching. We didn’t even sing. The people are crying to God for mercy. Oh, the confessions that were made! There was one old man crying out, “Oh, God, hell is too good for me! Hell is too good for me!” This is Holy Ghost conviction! Now mind you, that was on the very first night of a mighty demonstration that shook the island. Oh, let me say again, that wasn’t the beginning of revival–revival began in a prayer barter meeting. Revival began in an awareness of God. Revival began when the Holy Ghost began to grip men and that was how it began.

After that we were at it night and day-churches crowded. I remember one night it was after 3am, a messenger came to say that the churches were crowded in another parish 15 miles away. It was 3am! We went, and I found myself preaching in a large church-a church that would seat 1,000–and the Spirit of God was moving in a mighty way! I could see them falling, falling on their knees. I could hear them crying to God for mercy And that continued fortwo hours. And then as we were leaving the church, someone came to me to tell me that a very large number of people had gathered on a field–they could not get into the church. Along with the other ministers I decided to go to the field. And here I saw this enormous crowd standing there as though gripped by a power that they could not explain. But the interesting thing about that meeting was a sight that I saw. The headmaster of a secondary school in the parish is lying on his face on the ground crying to God for mercy. Oh, deeply convicted of his desperate need and on either side of them, two young girls, I would say about 16 years of age-two on each side of him. And they keep saying to the headmaster, “Master, Jesus that saved us last night in Barvas can save you tonight.” It is true that when man comes into vital relationship with Jesus Christ, his supreme desire is to win others.

The first wave of the revival continued for five weeks and then there was a lull-perhaps a lull of about a week. Oh, the churches are still crowded, people are still seeking after God, and prayer meetings are being held all over the parishes. It was the custom there that those who found the Savior at night would be at prayer meeting at noonday. A prayer meeting met everyday and noonday. At that time all worked stopped for two hours–looms are silent. For two hours work stopped in the fields, and men gathered for prayer.

That continued for almost 3 years. Until the whole of the island was swept by the mighty power of God. I couldn’t tell you how many but this I know, that at least 75% of those who were born again during the revival were born again before they came near a church!

I can think just now a story of the village of Weaver–and there was a row of cottages by the roadside. There were seven of them altogether. And in every cottage a loom and a weaver. One morning, just as the men were being called for breakfast, it was discovered that the seven of them were lying prostrate behind their looms. Lying on their faces behind their looms and all of them in a trance. Now I can’t explain this. But of this I am certain that this was of God because the seven men were saved that day. An awareness for God gripped them, and a hunger possessed them and they cried out to God for mercy. And God swept in. My dear people, that’s revival. So apart altogether from man’s best endeavour. God is in the middle and miracles happen.

Now perhaps I should go into some of the features that characterized this remarkable movement. Well, already I have mentioned to you that men were found in trances. However, we never saw anybody healed, and never heard anybody speaking in tongues. Then, we saw strange manifestations. I think just now of a certain island. Up until then God hadn’t moved on this island–one of the smaller islands, perhaps an island of 600 souls. it was difficult to preach there, you felt your very words coming back and hitting you. I turned to one of the other ministers and I said, “Now don’t you think that we should send for the praying men of Barvas?” Let me say in passing that the praying men of Barvas were praying for us just now, there were at least five of them in this part of God’s vineyard who promised to do that and I believe they were keeping to their promise. Therefore, I contacted them and asked them to bring little Donald over. Donald had a remarkable experience on the hillside a fortnight after he was born again. And God came upon him–the Holy Ghost came upon him. He had a mighty baptism.This young fellow had such a baptism of God among the heather, that he forgot about coming home and a search party had to be sent out to find him in the hills. And they found him on his face among the heather repeating over and over, “Oh, Jesus, I love You. Oh, Jesus I love You!”

And now we are in the service in the church with little Donald. The preaching was hard. I looked down and I saw little Donald sitting there in the seat couldn’t control his tears. And I said to myself, “Well, now, there is a young lad nearer to God that you or I.” And I stopped preaching. And looking down at this young lad, I said, “Donald, I believe God would have you lead us in prayer. ” Now that morning at family worship they were reading Rev 4 where John has the vision of the open door. “I saw a door opened in heaven.” And as that young man stood, that vision came before him. And this is what he said in his prayers. “God, I seem to be gazing in through the open door. And I seem to see the Lamb standing in the midst of the Throne. He has the keys of death and of hell…” Then he stopped and began to weep. And for a minute or so he wept and he wept. Oh, the brokenness. And when he was able to control himself, he lifted his eyes towards the heavens and he cried out, “God, there is power there-let it loose! Let it loose!” And suddenly, the power of God fell upon the congregation. And now, one side of the church raised up their hand and threw their heads back. And the other side they slumped on top of each other. Those who had their hands like this stayed that way for two hours. Now you try to remain like that with your hands up for a few minutes and you will find it hard.But the most remarkable thing that night was what took place in a village seven miles away from the church. The power of God swept through the village, that there wasn’t a single house in the village that hadn’t a soul saved in it. The whole village is saved!

A schoolmaster that night looking over his papers on the mainland of Scotland suddenly was gripped by the fear of God. And he said to his wife, “Wife, I don’t know what’s drawing me to Barvas, but I must go.” His wife said, “But it’s nearly 10pm and you’re thinking of going to Barvas. I know that you are making an excuse for drinks!” That was what she said to him–he was a hard drinker. And he said to his wife, “I may be mistaken, but if I know anything at all about my own heart and mind, I think I say to you now that drink will never touch my lips again.” And she said to him, ” And he got someone to take him to the ferry, someone to ferry him across, and I was conducting a meeting in a farmhouse at midnight and this schoolmaster came to the door and they made room for him and in a matter of minutes he was praising God for salvation.A father, a mother and two daughters and a son were saved that night in this village but one of the daughters who was in the medical profession was in London. She is walking down Oxford Street after leaving a patient and she is suddenly arrested by the power of God. She went home and cried to God for mercy and God saved her there-the whole family saved!

These are some more remarkable moving of God. That very night, a captain in the clan line was saved. The Spirit of God laid hold of him in his own cabin. The Spirit of God moved upon lobster fishermen in the sound–they had to leave their boats and their creels and make for the island. By the morning they were saved. Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we saw God move in that way in this community? Everything is possible with God!

I think one of the most outstanding things that happened I believe will go down in history as long as revival is mentioned was in the parish of Arnot. Now, I regret to say that here I was bitterly opposed by a certain section of the Christian church. For some reason or other they came to believe that I wasn’t sound in my doctrine because I preached the baptism of the Holy Ghost. It is true that the church was crowded, it is true that people were standing outside that couldn’t get in, but these were people who came from neighbouring parishes. So one night one of the elders (the blacksmith) came to me and said, “Mr. Campbell, there is only one thing that we can do. We must give ourselves to prayer-give ourselves to prayer. Prayer changes things.” So we borrowed a farmer’s house, and gathered at his house.I would say there were about 30 of us including five ministers of the church of Scotland. Men who had burdens-longings to see God move in revival in Arnot. The prayer was hard at the beginning, I turned to this blacksmith whom I have already referred to and said to him, “John, I feel that God would have me to call upon you to pray.” Up until then he was silent. And that dear man began-he must have prayed for about a half an hour. When he paused for a second or so and then looking up towards the heavens he cried, “God, do You know that Your honour is at stake? Do You know that Your honour is at stake? You promised to pour water on the thirsty and floods on the dry ground and, God, You are not doing it! There are five ministers in this meeting and I don’t know where a one of them stands in Your presence, not even Mr. Campbell. But if I know anything at all about my own poor heart, I think I can say and I think that You know that I’m thirsty! I’m thirsty to see the devil defeated in this parish. I’m thirsty to see this community gripped as you gripped Barvas. I’m longing for revival and God, You are not doing it! I am thirsty and you promised to pour water on me.” Then a pause and then he cried, “God, I now take upon myself to challenge you to fulfil Your covenant engagement!” Now it was nearing 2am in the morning. All of a sudden, the house shook. A jug on a sideboard fell onto the floor and broke. When the blacksmith stopped praying at twenty minutes past two, I pronounced the benediction and left the house. What did I see? The whole community alive. Men carrying chairs, women carrying stools and asking, “Is there room for us in the churches?” And the Arnot revival broke out. And oh, what a sweeping revival! I don’t believe there was a single house in the village that wasn’t shaken by God. I went into another farmhouse-I was thirsty, I was tired, I needed something to drink. And I went into ask for a drink of milk and I found nine women in the kitchen crying to God for mercy–nine of them! The power of God swept-and here was little Donald. He’s kneeling by a pigsty and he is crying to God for mercy. And one of the elders goes over to him and prays over him and he came to know the Saviour and I believe more souls were brought to Christ through that one lad’s prayers than through the preaching of all of the ministers from the island, me included. God used him. He was the boy that prayed, “I gazed upon an open door.”Now that night do you know that the drinking house was closedand it has never been opened since. I was back some time ago and an old man pointed at this house with its windows boarded up and he said, “Mr. Campbell, do you see that house over there? That was the drinking house of the past. Do you know that last week at our prayer meeting 14 of the men who drank there were praying men.” Now, people–that’s revival. That is God at work. Miracles, supernatural, beyond human explanation-it’s God!

I remember one night I saw seven communists–up until then they will spit in your face, talk about religion being the dope of the masses. Educated men. Wouldn’t go near a church. But dear old Peggy had a vision one night and in the vision she saw seven men from this particular community from this centre of activity born again and becoming pillars of the church of her father. Peggy told me that God had revealed to her that He was going to move in this particular village. Oh, yes, there were communists there, godless men there but what was that to God when God began to work He would deal with that. So she kept on talking like that. I said, “Peggy, I have no leadings to go that village. You know that there is no church there, and the schoolmaster is one of those men who would never dream of giving me the schoolhouse for the meetings. I have no leadings to go.” And she said, “Mr. Campbell, if you were living as near to God as you ought to be, He would reveal His secrets to you, also.” Her words made me humble and I said, “Peggy, would you mind if I call for the parish minister and together we will spend the morning together with you in prayer?” “Oh, I’ll be happy too.”So she began to pray, “Lord, do You remember what you told me this morning when we had that conversation together? I’m just after telling Mr. Campbell about it but he’s not prepared to take it. You give him wisdom because the man badly needs it!” That was what she said! “The man badly needs it!” And of course she was speaking truth. Of course I needed it. I needed to be taught. But I was at the feet of a woman who knew God in an intimate way. And I was prepared to listen. So I said, “Peggy, when will I go to that village?” “Tomorrow.” “What time?” “Seven o’clock.” “Where am I to hold a meeting?” “You go to the village and leave the gathering of the people to God and He will do it.”

And I went to the village and when I arrived I found a crowd around a bungalow. I found five ministers waiting for me. And the house was so crowded that we couldn’t get in-indeed, we couldn’t get near it. And I stood on a hill in front of the main door and gave out my text. I preached for about 10 minutes when one of the ministers came to me and said, “Mr. Campbell, could you not go to the end of the house there and some men there and we are afraid that they will go mental they are in such a state. Oh, they are mighty sinners and they know it-they are spoken of here as communists.” I went and I saw seven men. The seven men that Peggy saw. The seven men who became pillars of the church.Oh my dear people! That is God at work!

The minister saw two young men on their knees in the field crying to God. He turned to his wife and said, “Isn’t that wonderful? There’s the two pipers who were advertised to play in the parish hall tonight. There they are crying to God for mercy. Come on, we’ll go home and we will go to the dance and we will tell them what has happened.” So off he went to the dance and they were not at all pleased with his appearing. They knew that he wasn’t there to dance for they knew the man. He went in and when a lull came in the dancing, he stepped onto the floor and he said, “Kinfolk, something very wonderful has happened tonight! The Smith pipers were to be here, the two brothers were to be here–they are crying to God for mercy in Barvas! ” Suddenly, stillness. Not a word. And then he spoke again, “Young folk, will you sing a psalm with me?” “Yes,” said one young man “if you lead the singing yourself.” And he gave out Psalm 50: “For God is depicted as a flame of fire” and while singing that psalm, the power of God fell upon the dance. And I understand that only 3 who were there that night remained unsaved. And the first young man to cry to God for mercy was just a boy, he found the Saviour that night. Oh, dear people, this is the doing of God.

You ask me, “What is the fruit of this type of movement?” Some little time ago the parish was asked to give a report on the fruit of the revival. He wrote: “I will confine my remarks to my own parish–I will allow the other ministers to give their own reports. But let me speak of my own parish. In a certain village 122 young people (over the age of 17) found the Saviour during the first day of the revival. Today I can say that they are growing like flowers in the garden of God, there is not a single backslider among them.”

Now, dear people, that’s true. We thank God for the stream of young people who have gone into the ministry. I’ve sometimes said that supposing Lewis produced nothing but one young girl, a wild girl, just 17 years of age. God saved her. She went to a Bible school and today I have no hesitation in saying that she is among the best leading Bible expositors. She is just now in South Africa addressing conferences and conventions. Has been instrumental in bringing blessing to scores of ministers and she was the fruit of the movement. I will never forget the night that she prayed. I remember the night that the Holy Ghost fell upon her at a communion service. She lifted her two hands like this and she cried, “Oh, Bridegroom, Bridegroom of my heart possess it all. Oh, Bridegroom, Bridegroom of my heart possess it all!” And the Holy Ghost came upon her in such a way that she began to cry, ” That was God. That’s the fruit. And what we are seeing today is a movement against among teenagers. I believe this has broken out because of the steadfastness of the young people who found the Saviour during the big revival years ago.” The steadfastness of the young people. I can say without fear of contradiction that they are scattered all over the world, they are in the mission fields and different places today, they are standing true to the God of the covenant, true to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now my dear people that’s the story of revival. And I tell it because I fear that another would tell a different story that are not true to fact. The revival is God’s work. God did it. And we bless Him for it.