Scotland Hebrides, Iona Nunnery
Scotland Hebrides (Jan Smith)

Earnest Prayer

This was the key to the Hebrides Revival of 1948-1952. God poured out His Spirit in the Hebrides, a small group of islands off the west coast of Scotland, in response to a handful of men and women who pressed into Him and would not let Him go.

Before the revival, the churches in this area were virtually empty. Most of the young people had stopped attending, and many churches were about to close their doors.

But there were some who weren't ready to give up. Among the people concerned about the state of the Church of Scotland was a small group of men from Barvas, the district that was to become the center of the revival. They agreed to meet regularly in a barn by the side of the road to pray.

At their first meeting these men were given the revelation that God is a covenant-keeping God who has made covenant promises. "If this is true," they reasoned, "we can enter into a covenant with Him, and if we keep our part, then He must keep His."

They asked, "Has God given us a covenant promise for revival?" Immediately the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14 came to them, "'If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land'" (NKJV).

That same night they entered into a solemn covenant with God to humble themselves in prayer until revival came.

Three nights every week for five months they prayed and waited on God until 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. One night, a young deacon rose and began to read Psalm 24:3-5: "Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart...He shall receive blessing from the Lord."

In response to this searching challenge from God, the men fell on their knees in confession and rededication and began to pray even more earnestly. An hour later three of them were lying prostrate on the floor, exhausted. By 5 a.m. revival had come! The barn was suddenly filled with the glory of God, and the power that was let loose filled that little barn and shook the whole community.

Around the same time in a little cottage in the village of Barvas two elderly sisters, Peggy and Christine Smith, were also praying. Peggy, 84, was nearly blind, and Christine, 82, was bent over with arthritis. Like the men in the barn, they were seeking God for revival, and to them came the promise, " ' "I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground" ' " (Is. 44:3).

One night, knowing that the others had gathered in the barn to pray, the sisters sat before their peat fire to spend the night in prayer. Peggy suddenly had a vision of the church, crowded again with young people. She sent for the minister, James Murray Mackay, and told him what God had shown her, asking him to encourage his elders and deacons to come together for special times of waiting upon God.

On the same night God visited the barn, He also visited the cottage and spoke to the two elderly women, revealing to them the name of the man God wanted to use in the visitation-- Duncan Campbell, a Presbyterian minister and a great man of prayer. God said, "In two weeks I shall send upon this community the greatest spiritual awakening it has known."

A wire was sent to Campbell, who was ministering in the Highland town of Skye, but he was already booked for another meeting. He sent a reply, "It is impossible for me to come at this time, but keep praying, and I will come next year."

When they heard his reply, the sisters said, "That is what man says, but God has said he will be here in two weeks." In the meantime Campbell's meetings in Skye were cancelled. Within two weeks he was in Barvas!

Revival Begins

The first meeting was held in the old parish church. Many people had gathered in great expectation, but nothing exceptional happened. Campbell appeared discouraged. One of the deacons went to him and said: "Don't be discouraged, it is coming. I already hear the rumbling of heaven's chariot wheels. We will have another night of prayer, and then we will see what God is going to do!"

Thirty of them went to a nearby cottage and began to travail before the Lord. About 3 a.m. God swept in, and a dozen or so were laid out prostrate and speechless on the floor. Revival had come!

And not just to the group in the cottage. Men and women throughout the area were seeking God. Lights were burning in the homes along the road; no one seemed to be thinking about sleep. Three men were found lying by the roadside in a torrent of conviction, crying out for God to have mercy on them.

On the second night buses came from the four corners of the island, crowding into the church. Seven men who were being driven to the meeting in a butcher's truck suddenly felt the power of God, came under conviction and were saved before they reached the church building.

As the minister preached his message, tremendous conviction came over the people. Tears rolled down their faces, and men and women cried out for mercy from every corner of the church. So deep was their distress that some of their cries could be heard outside in the road. A young man beneath the pulpit cried out, "Oh, hell is too good for me."

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