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Hebrides Revival of 1949 and what we can learn from the move of God

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In the Christendom we hastily use the word “revival”; the word “evangelistic mission” is preferable. Why? Because true revival is a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. If Duncan Campbell (the Hebrides revival evangelist) was alive with us today, he would emphasize the importance of having a clear definition of revival. He would distinguish it from all of our best evangelistic efforts, from our missionary campaigns, and from all of our special services and programs. He would not necessarily criticize these engagements, but he would vehemently insist that they are not to be confused with revival.

Very many Churches fix “revival” programs sporadically for their members in order to turn hearts back to the faith. But many at times we just end up in deliverance sessions and gospel ministration. In such programs the events are organized by men and we work with time. But when true revival comes like the Hebrides revival, the events are organized by God, the sessions are told by the Holy Spirit and no one else.

The Lewis revival, otherwise know as the Hebrides revival of the Island of Lewis (1949-1952) commenced on the Scottish island of Lewis in the village of Barvas and spread to other islands in the region.

Many has told stories and written books about this great revival, however there are lessons we must take from this revival.


  1. Revival is a Pentecostal Affair.
    The tragedy of the Roman Catholic and other denominations who have rejected the baptism of the Holy Spirit is that they cannot be revived as a Church; they can only be reformed. But Christian reformation has come and has given us back the Pentecostal experience of the bible. Unless the entire system of non Pentecostal churches becomes reformed in fire, they will continue to miss out on the Holy Ghost revivals. Unless individuals move to Holy Ghost powered Churches, they too will continue to miss out.
  2. No prayer; no revival.
    Beginning in November of 1949, two sisters, Peggy and Christine Smith, 84 and 82 years old–Peggy completely blind, and Christine bent over with arthritis—were burdened due to the depressed spiritual state in their Barvas village church. They sensed the Lord speaking to them: “I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground.” (Isaiah 44:3).
    This led them to pray in their small cottage two to three nights per week, from 10 p.m. till 3 a.m. After several weeks of praying like this, Peggy had a vision of her church being crowded with young people, and an unknown minister preaching from the pulpit.
    Peggy then sent for their minister, Rev. James Murray MacKay. She told him they sensed the Lord was going to send a revival and that he must get his church leaders and spend every Tuesday and Friday night in prayer, and that they would pray simultaneously in their cottage.

    No pain, no gain is a human slogan that is true even in spirituality. Revival comes by prayers. Revival comes when children of God set themselves apart to pray and seek change. Revival tarries because prayer sleeps -Leonard Ravenhill

    Read: Shall we pray of shall we sing songs

  3. Revival is the pure work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy spirit can use men in church reforms. The Holy Spirit can use men in evangelistic ministries. The Spirit of God can use men in powerful missions outreach. But when it comes to revival, He takes the stage.
  4. God doesn’t force us. Throughout the scriptures, God has never failed to remind us that we can choose to obey him or not obey him. Some resisted the Hebrides revival. Some churches that would have be torn apart by the mercies of the Holy Ghost derided the Work of God through the revivalist- Duncan. Deuteronomy 30:19 says: “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live
  5. God uses man. God has never worked alone. The Great spirit of God uses humans as instrument, both in prayers and word ministration during revivals. Apostle Paul had a vision of a little girl saying “Come over to Macedonia and help us”. Paul was never going to help them, It was the Holy Ghost that was going to do the work through him. But the directives, messages and sessions was for the Spirit to tell.
  6. Revival is a time of rebirth. For Christian life to be born there must be death to flesh. For rebirth to come, there was time of death or time of dormancy. For revival to come, it means we have fallen from what we used to be. This was the state of the Lewis Christianity before the revival as an eye witness stated.
    The report
    1. According to testimonies of people present prior to the revival, they confessed that the churches were dead and that they were in a spiritual winter.
    2. Legalism was extreme and the young people wanted nothing to do with the Church. Some of the churches had no young people attending.
    3. The people on the island had a “form of godliness” in that prayer and Bible reading in homes was conducted every morning, but it was carried out as a duty; it was a tradition of those who were converted as well as those who were not.In the schools the children learned Bible stories from their unconverted teachers. Students were also taught the short version of the Westminster Catechism, as well as how to sing many of the Psalms. They were also required to memorize the Ten Commandments and many other selected passages of scripture—but there was no life in it. It was all formality and tradition.
  7. Revival is a thing of the church. Although the Spirit of revival could attract a sinners to repentance and consequent baptism of fire, it is never to be mistaken for a Christian crusade. It is purely the Holy Spirit putting his Church back in order. It is purely about awakening the sleeping Christians and revitalizing the dead church men.
  8. We need revival 
    Anyone who reads the stories of the Hebrides revival will attest to the fact that we need dire awakening in the Church. The Church is sick, many Church has forgotten our stand. Very many of us are now children of the night. It is now about Relativism, Legalism, Liberalism and other ‘isms’ that disdains the Spirit of God. We need revival; yes! we do. And if it be that revival does not come without prayers, then we shall pray and pray more until it comes like a mighty wave. Amen!




Watch the as the revivalist- Duncan Campbell states what happened during those days of power.


Duncan Campbell (Revivalist) during the Lewis revival 1949


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