(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
An advent can mean, “a coming or arrival”, especially as it relates to Christ’s first and second coming. The revival of the early 1950’s in the Outer Hebrides islands was the arrival Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit! One of the Scriptures of that revival was Psalm 85:4 through 7:
Restore us, O God of our salvation, and cause Your anger toward us to cease. Will You be angry with us forever? Will You prolong Your anger to all generations? Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your mercy, Lord, and grant us Your salvation.
The foundation of the Outer Hebrides revival was laid in prayer. In the late 1940’s a few Christians were concerned enough to pray – really pray – for God to send His spiritual awakening to dead churches on the Island of Lewis off the coast of Scotland. Two sisters, Peggy and Christine Smith, both in their 80’s labored long hours in prayer. Seven young men met three nights a week in a barn – all beseeching God to send revival to the island churches!
Reverend Duncan Campbell was called to preach for ten days. But it wasn’t until the fifth night of services in the Barvas church that all heaven broke loose! After dismissing the congregation at a service where no indication of revival was manifested, Mr. Campbell found six to seven hundred people outside the church doors, all seeking relief from their hell-bound sins – at 11 o’clock at night! We pick up the story from there, in Duncan Campbell’s words…
“There was a dance in progress that night in the parish, and while this young man [the deacon in the Shader church] was praying in the aisle; the power of God moved into that dance, and the young people, over a hundred of them, fled from the dance, as though fleeing from a plague, and they made for the church. They hadn’t been thinking of God or eternity….They were there to have a good time, when suddenly the power of God fell upon the dance. The music ceased, and in a matter of minutes, the hall was empty. They stood outside, saw the lights in the church, knew that it was a house of God, so they went over to it.”
“Other people who had gone to bed, got up, got dressed, and made for the church. There had been no publicity, except an announcement from the pulpit on the Sabbath…a certain man was going to be conducting a series of meetings in the parish for ten days. But God…became His own publicity agent! A hunger and a thirst gripped the people. At least six hundred of them were now at the church standing outside.”
“…I could hear the cry of the penitent, I could hear men crying to God for mercy, and I turned to the elder and said, ‘I think we had better open the doors again and let them in.’ Within a matter of minutes, the church was crowded, even though it was now a quarter to midnight. A church to seat over eight hundred was now packed to capacity. I manag-ed to make my way through the crowd along the aisle toward the pulpit. There 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 was now lying on the floor of the pulpit crying to God for mercy. God was at work, and Peggy Smith’s vision of a church crowded with young people, as well as old, had now become a reality.”
“That meeting continued until four o’clock in the morning. I couldn’t tell you how many were saved that night, but of this I am sure, that at least five young men who were saved that night are ministers today in the Church of Scotland.”
“At four o’clock we decided to make for the manse…asking those who wanted to get right with God to come to a further meeting, where we would quote Scripture, but basically we just left men and women to make their way to God themselves. When God takes a situation in hand, I tell you, He does a better work than we could ever do!”
“…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, for there must be at least four hundred people gathered around there just now.’ A crowd of men and women, from a neighboring vil-lage, five or six miles away, had been so convicted by God, that they found them-selves moving to the police station, because the constable there was a God-fearing man, a well-saved man, and next to the police station was the cottage where the two Smith sisters lived. People knew that this was a home that feared God. I believe that had something to do with the magnet, the power that drew men….”
“I went…to the police station. As I was walking along the country road…about a mile, I heard…by the roadside…a man crying to God for mercy. I went over, and there were four young men on their knees….they had been to the dance, but now they were here, crying to God for mercy. One of them…a young man of about 20, was drunk….But that night God saved him, and today he is a parish minister and a man of God. He was converted in the revival with eleven other men who were to serve in his presbytery, a wonderful congregation.”
“When I got to the police station, I saw something that will live with me as long as I live. I didn’t preach….We didn’t even sing. The people were in great spiritual distress. Under the…bright moon…were men and women on the road, others by the side of a cottage, and some behind a peat stack, all 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!’ That is Holy Ghost conviction! …from the group of young men who sought the Lord that night; there are nine in the ministry today.”
“We knew that God had taken the field, the forces of darkness had been driven back, and men and women were going to be delivered.”
“…that was not the beginning of revival; revival began in a prayer meeting. Revival began in an awareness of God. Revival began when the Holy Ghost was poured out through the consecration of two groups of people – [the Smith sisters and the seven young men who met in the barn]…But the awakening had now begun! ”
This was but the first night of the Outer Hebrides revival! The following events of this great and holy work of God will continue to be recounted in the next Gem.