I recently read a short booklet entitled “The Lewis Awakening”, written by Duncan Campbell in 1954. The book traces the remarkable story of revival coming to the small island of Lewis, between 1949 – 1953. Lewis is part of the Hebrides Islands off the coast of Scotland.
Campbell dedicates Chapter 2 to describing how the revival began. Below is an excerpt.
(emphasis & formatting are mine)
“I would like first to state what I mean by revival as witnessed in the Hebrides:
- I do not mean a time of religious entertainment, with crowds gathering to enjoy an evening of bright gospel singing;
- I do not mean sensational or spectacular advertising – in a God-sent revival you do not need to spend money on advertising.
- I do not mean high-pressure methods to get men to an inquiry room – in revival every service is an inquiry room; the road and hill side become sacred spots to many when the winds of God blow.
Revival is a going of God among His people, and an awareness of God laying hold of the community.
Here we see the difference between a successful campaign and revival; in the former we may see many brough to a saving knowledge of the truth, and the church or mission experience a time of quickening, but so far as the town or district is concerned no real change is visible; the world goes on its way and the dance and picture-shows are still crowded: 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 see after God. ” (pp.14-15)
A Word of Caution
- While it could seem harsh for Campbell to draw the comparison between “a successful campaign” and “revival”, let’s be careful to not over-emphasize that distinction. Both have value and both serve a purpose; Campbell is, first and foremost, describing the way things happened in Lewis, where there were none of the elements of the “successful campaign”… no flyers printed, posters hung, or high-pressure.
- He states that “in a God-sent revival you do not need to spend money on advertising.” Once again, let’s remember:
- the context – which is rural Scotland in the 1950’s and
- that the author is speaking descriptively, not prescriptively.
Inspired for Real Change
- Lord, let it be so in our communities today!
- Let us, in our lifetime, experience such revival as was seen in Lewis.
- Let us see it in France.
Come back on Saturday when I’ll share the role that prayer played in the Lewis Awakening, according to Duncan Campbell.