"Dedicated to strengthening and encouraging the Body of Christ."

When Revival Came To The Hebrides

By Duncan Campbell

    It was in October, 1949, that a declaration appeared in the local press stating in very plain language the sad state of the Christian church in the Island of Lewis, and calling on faithful people to view with deep concern the general drift away from God within the bounds of the Presbytery. What effect this declaration had upon the Christian people of Lewis is beyond the knowledge of the writer, but of this he is certain, that long before it appeared, several groups of men and women in the parish church of Barvas were spending hours in prayer for an outpouring of the Spirit of God. Indeed, so great was their burden and so intense their intercession that the small hours of the morning frequently found them on their faces before God.

    It is therefore not surprising that in the month of November, 1949, God did visit this church in revival blessing, which went on to touch many parts of the Island.  The supernatural working of God, the Holy Spirit, in revival power is something that no man can fully describe.  There are, however, certain features of the Lewis revival which can be mentioned, features that have characterized revivals of the past.

    First among these is the spirit of prayer. One will never forget the hush of the awful presence of God as:

                        "Heaven stooped down the soul to greet,

                        And glory crowned the mercy seat."

    Here is a scene witnessed by the writer. A crowded church. The service is over, the congregation reluctant to disperse is standing outside the church in a silence that is tense. Suddenly a cry is heard and a young man burdened for the souls of his fellow men is pouring out his soul in intercession. He prays until he falls into a trance, but heaven has heard and the whole congregation moves back into the church, when a wave of conviction swept over the gathering, moving strong men to cry to God for mercy.

    This service continued until 3 o'clock in the morning, but so great was the distress and so deep the hunger which gripped men and women that they refused to go home and already were assembling in another part of the district, the place of meeting being the Police Station.

    This was a moving scene, some weeping in sorrow and distress, others with joy and love fell upon their knees conscious only of the presence and power of God who had come in revival blessing. Within a week the whole parish was in the grip of a spiritual awakening. Churches became crowded, work was largely put aside, as young and old were made to face eternal realities.

    Soon the fire spread to the neighboring parishes. Carloway witnessed a mighty manifestation of the power of God that will surely live in the annals of Lewis Revivals. The minister of that parish was assisting at an early morning meeting in Barvas. God was mightily at work and a number of young men were in great distress of soul, two of whom were pipers who were to have played at a concert and dance being held that night in his parish. 

    On hearing this, the minister and his wife decided to leave the meeting at Barvas and go to the dance at Carloway. After a good deal of opposition they were allowed in, whereupon the minister told what had happened to the two pipers. He then engaged in prayer, calling upon God to extend His mercy to those who were "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God."

    Suddenly the power of God swept through the dance and within ten minutes the music of the dance gave place to the cry of the penitent. This incident had its gracious repercussions. A schoolmaster and family, who up until then had little time for God but who at the dance found the way of life, now blazed a trail for God in their own parish where the district of Ness became the scene of a mighty awakening. Here again the parish church opened its doors so that the hungry multitude may be fed. Here meetings were held in the afternoon and evening and on into the morning. Churches, private houses, and even furniture and meal stores were used to accommodate men and women seeking for God.

Watchmen Crying Day and Night unto the Lord

    Perhaps the greatest miracle of all was in the village of Arnol in the parish of Barvas. Here indifference to the things of God held the field. True it is that God had His watchmen on the wall of Zion who cried day and night.

    The writer while passing through this village was met by an old man who greeted him with these words: "I am glad to be alive to witness this day!" Then pointing to a certain house he said:

    "Do you see that place? That was the drinking house of this village where our young men met in utter disregard of God, His Word, or His Day. Today it is closed, and the men who frequented it are praying in the prayer meetings."