The Hebrides Revival is considered one of the greatest revivals of all time.
Following the trauma of World War II, spiritual life was at low ebb.
Then two women began to pray.
Peggy and Christine Smith (84 and 82) prayed constantly for revival in their cottage near Barvas village on the Isle of Lewis, the largest of the Hebrides Islands in the bleak northwest of Scotland. God showed Peggy in a dream that revival was coming. Months later, early one winter’s morning as the sisters were praying, God gave them an unshakable conviction that revival was near.
Peggy asked her minister James Murray Mackay to call the church leaders to prayer. Three nights a week the leaders prayed together for months. One night, having begun to pray at 10 p.m., a young deacon from the Free Church read Psalm 24 and challenged everyone to be clean before God. As they waited on God his awesome presence swept over them in the barn at 4 a.m.
Man Says No, God Says Yes
Mackay invited Duncan Campbell to come and lead meeting’s. He replied that he could not come until the following year.
God intervened and changed Duncan’s plans and commitments. Within 10 days he was on the island of Lewis. At the close of his first meeting in the Presbyterian church in Barvas the travel weary preacher was invited to join an all night prayer meeting! Thirty people gathered for prayer in a nearby cottage.
Duncan Campbell described it:
“God was beginning to move, the heavens were opening, we were there on our faces before God.
Three o’clock in the morning came, and GOD SWEPT IN. About a dozen men and women lay prostrate on the floor, speechless. Something had happened; we knew that the forces of darkness were going to be driven back, and men were going to be delivered.
We left the cottage at 3 am to discover men and women seeking God. I walked along a country road, and found three men on their faces, crying to God for mercy. There was a light in every home, no one seemed to think of sleep.”
They Came Without Being Invited
When Duncan and his friends arrived at the church that morning it was already crowded. People had gathered from all over the island, some coming in buses and vans. No one discovered who told them to come. God led them. Large numbers were converted as God’s Spirit convicted multitudes of sin, many lying prostrate, many weeping. After that amazing day in the church, Duncan pronounced the benediction, but then a young man began to pray aloud. He prayed for 45 minutes. Again the church filled with people repenting and the service continued till 4 am the next morning before Duncan could pronounce the benediction again.
No Time for Sleep
Even then he was unable to go home to bed. As he was leaving the church a messenger told him, “Mr. Campbell, people are gathered at the police station, from the other end of the parish; they are in great spiritual distress. Can anyone here come along and pray with them?” Campbell went and what a sight met him. Under the still starlit sky he found 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. The revival had come. Duncan Campbell states:
“That went on for five weeks with services from early morning until late at night — or into the early hours of the morning. Then it spread to the neighboring parishes. What had happened in Barvas was repeated over and over again. His sacred presence was everywhere.”
That move of God in answer to prevailing prayer continued in the area into the fifties and peaked again on the previously resistant island of North Uist in 1957. Meetings were again crowded and night after night people cried out to God for salvation.
But before leaving Peggy and her sister, another story must be told which further illustrates the holy intimacy of this woman with her Lord. When the movement was at its height Peggy sent for Duncan, asking him to go to a small, isolated village to hold a meeting. The people of this village did not favor the revival and had already made clear their policy of noninvolvement. Duncan explained the situation to Peggy and told her that he questioned the wisdom of her request. “Besides,” he added, “I have no leadings to go to that place.” She turned in the direction of his voice; her sightless eyes seemed to penetrate his soul. “Mr. Campbell, if you were living as near to God as you ought to be, He would reveal His secrets to you also.” Duncan felt like a subordinate being reprimanded for defying his general. He humbly accepted the rebuke as from the Lord, and asked if he and Mr. MacKay could spend the morning in prayer with them. She agreed, and later as they knelt together in the cottage, Peggy prayed:
“Lord, You remember what You told me this morning, that 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!”
“All right, Peggy, I’ll go to the village,” said Duncan when they had finished praying. She replied, “You’d better!” “And God will give you a congregation.” Arriving in the village at seven o’clock they found a large bungalow crowded to capacity with many assembled outside. Duncan gave out his text: “The times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” When he had finished preaching, a minister beckoned him to the end of the house to speak again to a number of people who were mourning over their sins – among them, Peggy’s seven men!