The Interceders Encourager No. 46
Report on the visit to the Outer Hebrides September- October 2012
This short encourager is partly a report and partly excerpts from a book based
on the awakening that I read while I was there.
1. I praise the Lord for good, safe journeys. There were no delays on any of the roads nor on any of the three ferry crossings. On the day after we went over to the main island, the ferry service was withdrawn due to bad weather.
2. It was interesting to see all the places I had read about. Stornoway, the only town on the islands, was quite busy, and had some pleasant streets, and I even saw one avenue. However, once outside the town, the island was rocky and treeless, apart from two or three small conifer plantations.
3. I visited most of the places associated with the 1949-1953 and the 1957-1958 awakenings, and was surprised to see how spread out the houses were. According to my map, the houses in each village were close together by the sides of roads, but in reality, most of the houses were widely dispersed over large areas of land. I also noticed the distance between the villages was quite long, and seemed even longer in the bare countryside. But in the time of the awakening, nobody took any notice of such things. It made me realize afresh how the Holy Spirit caused people to completely disregard the length of the walks, even with the strong winds, the rain and the snow.
In His goodness, the Lord sent the strongest winds that I experienced in the
Uig area, where Duncan Campbell experienced the worst weather of his life,
with strong gales and rainstorms straight off the Atlantic Ocean. However, the
area was the most interesting I saw, with hills and beautiful bays and harbours.
4. I was saddened to see how the churches had gone down in numbers, and how many church buildings had been closed down, especially the one in Uig that was the centre for the meetings held there by Duncan Campbell. The work of God, even the most astounding, needs to be maintained.
5. I visited a few people connected with the awakening, and disappointingly found
that some of them were overly concerned with many of the claims made about
the awakening, dismissing them as untrue, rather than being concerned about God
coming down in power again.
However, I understood where they were coming from, for I, too, have read
exaggerated accounts of the awakening. Consequently, I have not gullibly
accepted everything that has been written about it, but have sought to be fair and
objective, taking into account all the objections that have been raised, even those
made by Kenneth McRae of the Free Church in Stornoway.
I have, therefore, considered the objections, which are basically concerned
with the start of the awakening, seeking, above all, to be as close as possible to
the testimony of Duncan Campbell, for he was the only one who witnessed the
coming down of the Holy Spirit in each place, and who spoke about it and wrote
about it so soon afterwards. Duncan was a man of absolute honesty and integrity,
who would never have made anything up. Dates and places may have got mixed
up, but he knew what he saw with his own eyes and heard with his own ears, and
that cannot be denied.
Consequently, in view of these criticisms and my personal experience there, I
made slight modifications in the second version of the booklet to what I wrote in
the first version, one or two more in the third version, and one or two more in the
fourth version, but you will be pleased to know that I still hold to the basic facts
that Duncan Campbell reported, and you may have every confidence in them.
6. I must confess that when I got back from the Outer Hebrides, I was very
thankful to see more greenery, especially trees. Trees are the finest and the most
beautiful things that God has created, and their absence, anywhere in the world,
is always very noticeable. I was told that the Vikings were responsible for
burning all the trees on the islands, but they left the area well over a thousand
years ago, so we may well ask why have the inhabitants not replanted them long
ago, especially after revivals. Duncan Campbell spoke about the awakening as
God making the desert blossom as the rose, so why did this not translate
physically into a huge planting of trees? I asked the postman who was taking me
round why people had not planted trees, and he said they do not stand up to the
wind. But I could see that it wasn't true. I did see some stunted isolated
specimens, but I also saw a few whole plantations of conifers in copses, showing
that planting was quite possible as long as many are planted together, which is a
parable for us all.
7. While I was there, I read a book, "The Fire of God's Presence," by Owen
Murphy and John Wesley Adams, based on the 1949-1953 Revival and
Awakening in the Hebrides. I noted the following quotations:
"The greatest problem in the Western World of today is not secularism,
humanism, liberalism or other religions, but passionless, lukewarm, Bible
believing churches and Christians. We need another visitation of the fire of
God's presence that brings the awareness of God's holiness and the awfulness
of sin, accompanied by the fire of God. We read that Jesus did not do many
mighty works at Nazareth because of their unbelief. We have to beware of
limiting the Holy One of Israel. God can work only when there is genuine faith,
where we believe God for the impossible.
If the great Biblical prophets and men of prayer had doubted and limited God,
nothing would have happened. The waters of the Red Sea would not have
parted, the River Jordan would not have been halted, the walls of Jericho would
not have fallen down, the fire of heaven would not have consumed the sacrifice
on Mount Carmel, etc. We must deliberately shed our natural fears, and trust in
God to act in His most miraculous way."
"We have also to get rid of everything doubtful in our lives. We have to
confess everything that God shows us to be grieving the Holy Spirit, and
surrender our lives completely to Christ.
We then need to prevail in prayer. Churches that have no genuine confession
of sin, no brokenness, no weeping, no fasting, will never see revival.
Preachers must be those with hearts that are broken and burdened, whose eyes
are red with weeping because of the sins of their people, the sins of their cities,
the sins of their nations and the sins of this world, God's world.
Moreover, this brokenness and weeping must be not only in the home, at the
bedside, but also in the pulpit and on the platform, as it was with Robert Murray
M'Cheyne. People must see the evidence, if we want to see God working.
Unless there are tears of intercession by God's people and their leaders, there
will be tears of regret, heartache and sorrow in the homes, in the streets, in the
schools and businesses of the land.
The half hearted prayer meetings of today are a mockery in comparison to the
depth of spiritual travail of those, who, in days gone by, caused nations to be
swept by the power of God."
Regardless of the Godless world outside, regardless of the half hearted
Christians around us, and the fact that there are very few who will stand with us,
we must make time to pray before God for the churches and for this land.
The conditions are still the same, as in 2Chron. 7:14: humbling; heart
searching; forsaking and renunciation of all sin and everything doubtful; the positive seeking of holiness; the exercise of strong faith, believing that God will keep His covenant promises.
1) We need to enter into a covenant relationship with God.
2) We need to obey the conditions that God has laid down.
3) We need to believe that if we keep our side of the covenant, that God will
keep His. Any doubt will annul the contract. We need to believe that the covenant is just as binding on God as it is on ourselves, that through it, we are 'bonded' with God and His purposes, and we have a covenant right to His resources.
4) We need to solemnly enter into such a covenant, so that we step into a new
world where God's power operates."
"We may organize, we may plan," said Duncan Campbell at the Keswick Convention in 1952, "but until we get on our knees before God, and do business with a covenant keeping God, we shall not see revival. We can have our conventions and our conferences, but what we need is a fresh manifestation of the mighty power of God that brings men down in deep conviction to seek the Saviour."
"In the Hebrides," wrote Murphy and Adams, "the Smith sisters paved the way in praying for the island, then others followed, praying far into the night for the Holy Spirit to be poured out. Finally, the momentum of revival praying broke through the layers of spiritual dullness and deadness over the land. This breakthrough opened up the spiritual atmosphere, so that the fire of God's presence could visit them in a splendid demonstration of His glory and holiness."
The authors also describe it in another way, "In the Hebrides, the fire of God's word and Spirit mingled together as light and life, giving revelation within their hearts and in their prayers. They prayed with holy passion, birthed by the Holy Spirit, as they reminded God of the promises in His Word. They prayed with faith in His Word and Character, and with a holy boldness that the Spirit, the Word and the blood of Jesus make possible. Consequently, they were heard in the throne room of heaven, and God honoured His promises."
"Will God send a similar revival from heaven in our day?" ask the authors. "We are convinced that God can do more than that. He is waiting to do even greater things. In every generation, the revival resources of God are waiting to be released when God finds people who will stand before Him with the desperate spiritual hunger, with clean hands and pure hearts, in true humility, with the persevering intercession and the bold faith that make the outpouring of the Spirit possible."