Hebrides revival 1949-52
In considering the revival, it is necessary it look at the revival in 1939. The Carloway and surrounding area had experienced an awakening from 1934 to 1940. The previous awakening was in 1824. The 1939 revival had its roots in the Carloway awakening. During the awakening, people experienced great signs of distress with unusual prostrations. Unlike the 1949 revival, it was a laymen revival, and there were far more manifestations which including people going into trances.1
However, then the Second World War put a halt to the revival. But in 1949, people began praying intensely for revival. A holy disturbance grew as the people hungered for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Expectancy once again increased, which added to the intensity of prayer. The presence of God grew in their prayer meetings until all it needed was a spark that Duncan Campbell would bring.
In the post-war years, Christian vitality once again had fallen into a lull.
Campbell was born on February 13 th, 1898, in Cmusliath just north of Oban on the west coast of Scotland. At the age of fifteen in 1913, while he was playing the bagpipes at a dance, suddenly, he became disturbed in his mind. Campbell was so disturbed he had to leave and walk home. On the way he passed the Memorial Hall and seeing the light on, he stopped to see why. He then heard his father praying, so he came in beside his father. There was a mission being held by Mary Graham and Jessie Mowat. As Mary shared, deep conviction fell on Duncan, and he left, but in the way, he dropped to the ground.
When he arrived home, he found his mother, who had been unable to go, on her knees. Duncan poured out his heart to his mother. That night he would be converted. Duncan became actively involved in the Faith Mission until the war when he joined the army.
After the war, he joined the Faith Mission and went to Bible School. He would then ministered in Northern Ireland before returning to Scotland. During his time in Northern Ireland, he saw many come to the Lord. He retired from the Faith Mission and joined the United Free Church to pastor in Ardvasar in Skye, Scotland. Campbell was a down to earth theologian who was well-loved by his congregation.2. However, Campbell found himself in a spiritual wilderness. He was concerned he was out of the will of God, and as he now had a large family, he was unsure if the Faith Mission would accept him back. He attended a Convention in Edinburgh and during the message by Dr. Thomas Fitch, he became deeply convicted again. After a major heart work by the Lord, Duncan resigned from his current position and went back to the Faith Mission. On January 1st, 1949, he was accepted by the Faith Mission.
The Lewis Revival
Before the revival, it was written-
“The decline referred to in this declaration began to show itself in a growing disregard for the things of God; indeed the blighting influence of the spirit of the age, with its deadening effect, had wrought so effectively that in certain parishes very few young people attended public worship: the dance, the picture show and the “drinking house” were institutions which could now thrive in Lewis, on the generous support given by their willing devotees.”3
However, a remanent, those who were still faithful, became disturbed by what they saw. Soon the spiritual apathy would change, and as Campbell stated about revival- “but in revival the fear of God lays hold upon the community, moving men and women, who until then had no concern for spiritual things, to seek after God.”
Men and women began praying and crying out to God. They first felt that they must get themselves right before the Lord based on Psalm 24. Then people made a covenant with the Lord, and even into the early morning hours, they would be pleading the promises before the Lord. The believers stood confidently that God was a covenant-keeping God.
Next, these believers understood they needed to prepare for the move of God that would occur on the Lord’s timing. They understood that God is a God of revival, but they also appreciated the fact that God works through human agents.
The local pastor, Rev. James Murray MacKay, labored in prayer for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Lord gave MacKay a vision that the revival was coming, and as a result, he made a request of the Faith Mission. Duncan arrived in Lewis in December 1949.
Like all revivals, the pre-revival climate is one of great expectancy as the pre revival rain begins to drop. Such expectancy causes a boldness of faith in prayer and a renewed intensity.
On December 7th, Duncan arrived on the Isle of Lewis. Duncan was aware that God was about to move. He had plans for a short stay on the island, but God had other plans. Duncan would spend three years on the island.
How the Revival Began
Two elderly sisters, one 82-years old who was blind, and one who was 84-years old, became burdened. They discerned the spiritual climate, and out of holy frustration began to pray. A verse in the Word took hold of them, “I will pour water on him that is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground” (Isaiah 44: 3). In absolute confidence in the covenant-keeping God, they stood on His promise with expectancy.
Their prayers would stir the presbytery of Lewis, who passed a resolution calling on the faithful to pray. They saw how the people were drifting and had become spiritually barren and knew action had to be taken.
The burden on the elderly ladies grew, and on they started praying more. On Tuesdays, they would pray from 10’ o’clock until three or even four am. One mourning one of them had a vision of the church of their fathers filled with crowds of people. She then felt led to call the parish minister who felt led to hold prayer meetings on Tuesdays and Fridays. They would meet in a barn to pray and seek the Lord’s face. The two ladies joined them. These prayer meetings lasted for a month, and a half before one of the men stood up and said, based on Psalm twenty-four, how could they ascend the Hill of The Lord without clean hands and a pure heart. He understood they first had to get right with the Lord.
“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.”5
The power of God then swept that parish as it had not done in a hundred years. One of the elderly sisters felt led that they needed to invite someone to preach. Duncan, who was at the college in Edinburgh, was called and decided to come for a ten-day meeting.
His trip took all day to arrive at the islands. When he arrived at the pier he was immediately asked, “Mr. Campbell, I would like to ask you a question before you leave this pier: Are you walking with God?”6
Campbell was then asked to address a meeting at 9 pm that night.
The meeting had around 300 people gathered, so Campbell gave his opening address, and though the presence of God was present, nothing major happened. At about eleven, Campbell began to leave and walk down the aisle of the church. He walked beside a deacon who suddenly became disturbed and fell to his knees. He then cried out loudly. “God, you can’t fail us. God, you can’t fail us. You promised to pour water on the thirsty and floods upon the dry ground. God, you can’t fail us.”7
Campbell recognized that the deacon had known God in a way, he remained quiet. The man then went into a trance. Just then, the doors of the church opened, and Campbell was called to come and look. Outside there were 600 people gathered. They had been at the local dance hall when suddenly the music stopped as the power of God fell. They began fleeing the hall as if there was a plague and seeing the lights on in the church, ran to the church.
They then began singing a psalm as the crowd filled the church. The meeting lasted until 4 am with many getting saved. People came to the Lord no matter where they were, and the altar could be along the roadside. A crowd of around 400 gathered outside the home of the two ladies as a proclamation that God truly is a covenant-keeping God.
All over were people deeply convicted and crying out to the Lord for salvation.
From that night, crowds kept coming, and the Spirit moved. People inside and outside the church crying aloud for salvation. The first wave lasted five weeks, followed by a lull of around a week. Prayer meetings were held every day at noon. All work stopped for two hours as people sought Heaven, and there was no need for an altar call; people just cried out to the Lord. This would continue for three years.
People everywhere were moved and weep with great sorrow and distress. At the same time, others became filled with great joy and an overflow of love. Regardless, the presence of God filled the place.
The revival spread from the Parish of Barvas to the Parish of Ness and then beyond with many coming to the Lord. Nothing could stop the people coming to hear the Word. Strangers came from other districts and filled the churches.
“Perhaps the most outstanding feature in this part of Harris was the awe-inspiring sense of the presence of God that came over the island. The people just gave themselves to seeking the Way of Life.”8
Meetings would last into the late hours only to continue in homes until the early morning. One night one of the ministers felt led to go to one of the dance halls, and after overcoming the resistance of the leader, he went in and shared Psalm 50. Suddenly the presence of the Lord filled the place, and people began crying.
At Arnol, they held a meeting in a home. The atmosphere was dense and it seemed like they were not pressing through. Campbell asked John Smith, the local blacksmith, to pray. His simple pray that once again called on the promise of the Lord to pour water on the thirsty moved Heaven. He cried that the Father’s honor was at stake if He did not fulfill His promise. Suddenly, the house shook as if an earthquake hit it. The next day they discovered that no other house was impacted by the shaking. But God began to move.
First of all, there was a great awareness of the presence of God throughout the revival. Secondly, there was a great sense of conviction. Like most revivals as the Spirit moved, there were mighty manifestations. People struck with deep conviction would become prostrated and cry out to the Lord. No matter where people were, field, work, home, or church, the Lord would bring strong conviction and so they fell before Him and sought His face. People fell under the power, sometimes on top of each other.9 Some threw themselves backward and became rigid as if dead. 10 Along the road, some would be found lying on their face, so distressed they could not talk.
Some went into trances, but these never disturbed the service. 11, 12 Some began to swoon. 13 And some groaned. 14
Church services were so filled that people even sat on the steps of the pulpit. The crowds would walk miles in such desperation to simply hear the Word and be changed by the hand of the Lord. People who felt they were predestined not to get saved felt the touch of Heaven wash over them and came to such a knowledge of salvation.
Bottom line the true manifestation of the revival were those now saved and brought into such a wonderful relationship with Jesus that lasted beyond the revival. 15
Overview and the Donald Trump Connection
Duncan Campbell later spoke at a Keswick convention and said-
“This is the desperate need in the field of evangelism to-day—conviction of sin that will bring men on their faces before God.”15
Some have claimed that President Trump of America is related to the two elderly women, while some have disagreed. 17 President Trump was raised by his mother as a Presbyterian. She was a native of the Hebrides and was there during the great revival. 18 Dr. Sexton claimed that Mary named Donald after a man who blessed her greatly during the revival. Dr. Sexton also claims that the two elderly women sent Mary the Bible they used, which was then given to Donald Trump. This is the BIbe Donald Trump used when he was sworn into office. 19, 20
- Peckham, Colin, and Mary. Sounds from Heaven: The Revival on the Isle of Lewis, 1949-1952. Christian Focus. 2004. 33
- Peckham page 41
- Campbell, Duncan. Revival in the Hebrides (p. 2). Kraus House. Kindle Edition. Loc 75
- Campbell, Duncan. Revival in the Hebrides (p. 4). Kraus House. Kindle Edition.
- Campbell, Duncan. Revival in the Hebrides (pp. 33-34). Kraus House. Kindle Edition.
- Campbell page 35
- Campbell page 35
- Campbell, Duncan. Revival in the Hebrides (p. 14). Kraus House. Kindle Edition.
- Campbell page 104
- Campbell page 104
- Peckham page 237
- Campbel, page 7, 23, 34, 37, 41, 42, 101
- Campbell page 100
- Campbell page 13
- Peckham page 115
- Campbell, Duncan. Revival in the Hebrides (p. 101). Kraus House. Kindle Edition.
- Strang, Stephen E.. Trump Aftershock . Charisma House. Kindle Edition. Loc 1903