NEEDED: A Few Committed People to Pray for Revival
By Rev. Oliver W. Price
In October, 1949 the Free Church Presbytery on Lewis Island in the Hebrides group off the coast of Scotland was burdened because the church was losing so many young people and there were few conversions. "In the High School some pupils were actually speaking of conversion as 'the plague' --- something from which to keep away at all costs." (1) They Presbytery passed a resolution calling upon their faithful members to share their burden for this devastating state of the church.
What could two people do to revive the church and reach out to the lost? Listen to this. There were two elderly ladies who were unable to attend church. They were eighty-four year old Peggy Smith, who was blind, and her eighty-two year old sister, Christine, who was bent almost double from arthritis. They lived in the village of Barvas and they turned their cottage into a house of prayer as they prayed for months from 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. two nights each week. Peggy told Christine she knew revival was near when God assured her, "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground."
In the same village there were a few men who gathered in a barn to pray three nights a week. They often waited on God until 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. One night a young deacon read to the group Psalm 24 and then boldly addressed them, "Brethren, it seems to me just so much humbug to be waiting and praying as we are, if we ourselves are not rightly related to God." Then he cried, "Oh God, are MY hands clean? Is MY heart pure?" That night they knew the presence of God in a new transforming power.
Peggy Smith was so sure revival was on the way that she sent a message to her pastor, Rev. James Murray MacKay, asking him to invite Rev. Duncan Campbell to come preach in their village. The invitation was sent but Campbell reluctantly declined saying it was impossible for him to come at that time.
When Peggy received the news she replied, "That is what man has said. God hath said that he is coming and he will be here within a fortnight." God changed Duncan Campbell's plans and within two weeks he was there!
When Duncan Campbell came to Lewis Island in 1949 in answer to fervent prayer, expectancy was running high. A deacon declared, "God is going to break through" and even though a very ordinary meeting followed, this deacon told the preacher, "Don't be discouraged." Another deacon suggested that a group should spend the night in prayer. At 3:00 a.m. God began to move. A light was on in every home. People were praying. The following day the church was crowded and many turned to God.
God moved so that many Christians got right with God and sinners were converted. The awesome presence of God brought a wave of conviction of sin when revival came. Strong unconverted men humbled themselves and turned to Christ. A mother with tears of joy thanked God for answering prayer for her son's salvation.
Spiritually hungry crowds assembled even after midnight. One crowd gathered at the police station where many found the Savior. News spread rapidly. Busloads began arriving at the meetings. Work stopped as concern for salvation dominated conversation everywhere.
Seven men came to Christ after travelling 17 miles in a butcher's truck to the meetings. Streams of buses were bringing crowds who were getting right with God.
For five weeks in Barvas parish Duncan Campbell was preaching to large crowds in four services at 7:00, 10:00 and 12:00 midnight and at 3:00 a.m. He went home weary at 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. rejoicing in a mighty movement of God.
The mighty movement of God was sweeping the whole island, but there was opposition in the village of Arnol which was spiritually dead. Very few came to the meetings, but following a prayer meeting that lasted until 12:30 a.m. the church was packed with seekers.
One village wanted no part of the revival, nevertheless Peggy Smith insisted that Duncan Campbell preach there. She was trusting God to save seven men in that village who would become pillars in the church of her fathers. At first, Duncan Campbell told Peggy he had no leading from the Lord to go to that village. However, she insisted that the Lord had shown her that he should preach there. So Campbell asked if he and Pastor MacKay could spend the morning praying with Peggy and Christine.
She agreed and as they knelt together she prayed, "Lord, You remember what You told me this morning, and in this village You are going to save seven men who will become pillars in the church of my fathers. Lord, I have given Your message to Mr. Campbell and it seems he is not prepared to receive it, Oh Lord, give him wisdom, because he badly needs it!" (2)
Duncan Campbell went. He found a crowd waiting. When he finished many were weeping over their sins. Among them were Peggy's seven men!
The power of God was upon a young man named Donald who led both his father and his mother to faith in Christ. When Duncan Campbell preached in the village of Bernera things were difficult. So a group including Donald came from Barvas to pray. Half way through his sermon Duncan Campbell paused and called on Donald to pray. Donald had not prayed more than five minutes when God swept into the meeting and humbled the congregation in His presence.
Duncan Campbell said that the outstanding feature of this spiritual awakening was a deep overwhelming sense of the presence of God. The people were saturated with God. God's awesome holy presence completed dominated the meetings.
The consciousness of God's presence resulted in strong conviction of sin. The agony of conviction of sin was awesome. Sometimes people cried, "O God, hell is too good for me! Hell is too good for me!" Sinners broken over their sins fled to Christ for refuge.
Lives were deeply changed. Drinking places closed for lack of business. In one village a tavern was closed and permanently boarded up. Fourteen young men who once spent much of their time in that tavern abandoned it and became regular attenders at prayer meeting.
In fact, churches were filled for prayer meetings as well as Sunday services.
God can do this in North America and around the world today. Get a few prayer partners and meet on the first day of each month to pray for a mighty revival in our time. Write us for free information on how to pray for revival.
- Andrew A. Woolsey, Channel of Revival, A Biography of Duncan Campbell, The Faith Mission, (Edinburgh, Scotland, 1982), 113.
- ibid., 120
Material for this article was also based on "The Revival in the Hebrides" by The Rev. Duncan Campbell, a paper printed by Great Commission Schools, Inc., P.O. Box 727, Anderson, Indiana.
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