The Bible and church history are filled with descriptions of God’s extraordinary movement among His people in various seasons. One such event occurred on the Isle of Lewis, part of a small group of islands called the Hebrides, just off the coast of Scotland. Between 1949 and 1952 a great revival swept through those islands in answer to the prayers of God’s people. An evangelist by the name of Duncan Campbell was a key figure in the revival. He came to the Isle of Lewis to conduct a two-week evangelistic campaign and ended up staying for two years.
As a result of this great movement of God in the Hebrides bars closed, crime ceased, jails were left unused, and virtually every person on at least two of the islands was saved. Missionaries saved in the revival scattered around the world to preach the Gospel.
Many years after the revival, Duncan Campbell preached a sermon in which he described what happened in the Hebrides. He spoke of two elderly sisters who were gripped with the conviction that they should pray for revival. Here’s what happened:
“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 (church leaders) 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 … 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 a hold 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 … ‘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 … ‘God, are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?’”
Duncan Campbell goes on to explain that the minister and the other leaders in the church 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?
“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.”
God’s activity in revival doesn’t look the same in every place. But I cannot imagine any great movement of God that does not result in the people of God coming to deep conviction about holiness and godliness in their lives.
Peter, in his great Pentecost sermon, said this:
“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…” (Acts 3:19-20)
Note: The full transcript of Duncan Campbell’s message can be found at: http://www.revival-library.org/pensketches/revivals/hebrides.html