By Owen Murphy
PREPARATION MUST PRECEDE revival! The Word of God, history, and the gracious visitation of God to the Hebrides emphasizes this fact. And that preparation must begin with God's people.
History turned another page when the Free Church Presbytery of Lewis met in the town of Stornoway to discuss the appalling spiritual conditions existing in their communities. While the haunts of sin were crowded, churches were almost empty. In many places youth had almost disappeared from the House of God and It seemed only a matter of time before many churches would have to close their doors. No one, however, ever dreamed for a moment that this special meeting was destined to be the preliminary to the amazing spiritual awakening that was to come.
Amongst the many who were deeply concerned about the desperate spiritual condition of the churches, was a little group of men who lived at Barvas, the district that was to become the center of the outbreak of revival. As they met in a little wooden barn, greatly burdened for revival for their community, and began to pray, there suddenly dawned upon them, like a flash of light, the great fact of God as a COVENANT-KEEPING God who had made COVENANT PROMISES!
"If this is true," they reasoned, "we can enter into a covenant with Him, and, if we keep OUR part of it, then HE MUST KEEP His!" Has God given a "covenant promise" for REVIVAL? Immediately the words of God in 2 Chronicles 7:14 came to them:
"If My people which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven..."
That night they entered into a solemn covenant with God, to take upon themselves the "burden" for revival for the community, to humble themselves, and to prevail In prayer UNTIL REVIVAL CAME!
Let me now take you to that little barn by the side of the road and see those men on their faces before God. They have gathered to pray but this is no ordinary prayer meeting. Here are men, led by their minister, who are there to do business with God, and at 10 o'clock at night they kneel down in the straw to plead with God that He would make bare His arm in revival.
For months they waited; for months they gathered in the little barn three nights a week and waited upon God until 4 and 5 o'clock in the morning, determined to wrestle with God until the answer had been given. Then, one night, a young man, a deacon from the Free Church, arose from his knees and began to read Psalm 24:
"Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart-he shall receive the blessings of the Lord."
"Brethren," he said, "We have been praying for months for revival, waiting before God, but I would like to ask you now: ARE OUR HEARTS CLEAN? IS THE HEART PURE?" In response to this searching challenge they fell upon their knees in confession, and rededication, and again began to travail in prayer, even more earnestly. An hour later, three of them were lying prostrate upon the floor-they had PRAYED UNTIL THEY WERE EXHAUSTED! By five o'clock revival had come. The barn was suddenly filled with the Glory of God, and the power of God that was let loose In that barn shook the whole community of Lewis.
That same morning, in a little cottage several miles away, lived two elderly sisters; one was 84 and the other 82 years of age. For many years they had sought the Face of God for revival and. knowing the others were waiting upon God, they had gathered around their little peat fire to spend the night in prayer. Suddenly, something happened! The Glory of God swept into their cottage. God then spoke to them, revealing to them the very man whom He was going to use-the Rev. Duncan Campbell, a Presbyterian minister, and a mighty man of prayer.
"IN TWO WEEKS," said the Lord, "I SHALL SEND UPON THIS COMMUNITY THE GREATEST SPIRITUAL AWAKENING IT HAS KNOWN!"
A wire was sent to the Man of God, but when he received it and discovered that he was already booked up for another meeting, he replied: "It is impossible for me to come at this time, but keep on praying and I will come next year." When the reply was given to the sisters, they answered: "That is what man has said. God has said that he will be here in two weeks!" In the meantime, other letters began to reach him and strangely enough, his next meeting was cancelled. (How amazingly God can overrule!) The holiday Convention, which he was to address, was suddenly cancelled, owing to the Touring Board sweeping in and commandeering the hotels and boarding houses which the convention had been depending upon for accommodation for the many who were to attend the Convention. Within a fortnight he was in Barvas!
The first meeting was held in the old parish church. Many people had gathered in a great expectancy of a great "moving of God" but, strangely enough, nothing happened. It was just an ordinary service. Seeing the disappointment upon the preacher's face, one of the praying deacons came up to him: "DON'T BE DISCOURAGED," he said. "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!"
They went over to a near-by cottage, and about thirty knelt in prayer, and began to travail before the Lord. Three o'clock in the morning, God swept in and about a dozen were laid prostrate upon the floor, and lay there speechless. Something had happened! God had moved into action as He had promised; revival had come, and men and women were going to find deliverance. As they left that cottage that morning, they found men and women seeking God! Lights were burning in the homes along the road-no one seemed to think of sleep. Three men were found lying by the roadside, in a torment of conviction, crying for God to have mercy upon them! The Spirit of God was moving into action, and soon the parish of Barvas was to be stirred from end to end.