(Narrated by Duncan Campbell)
There 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.
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.