The minister at Barvas, James Murray MacKay (who sadly died in 1954), invited Duncan Campbell (his second choice) to come over and minister, but he was refused due to Campbell’s busy schedule. Now there were two elderly sisters, one blind, who were amazing intercessors, who the minister respected greatly, and they told him that Campbell would come, so they and the church prayed and he arrived in Barvas, Lewis on December 7th 1949. There is a myth across the internet, that came from Campbell’s writings, that the Smith sisters prayed in the revival and were solely responsible for Campbell’s arrival. This story is untrue, the whole Island was praying in the revival and the whole church for Campbell to come. 

Holy Spirit was not only encouraging people to pray; He also prepared Duncan Campbell. The missioner wrote sometime later. ‘After spending seventeen years in a barren wilderness, baffled and frustrated in Christian work and witness, I suddenly came to realise that God had made provision for clean hands and a pure heart. And on my face in my own study at five o’clock in the morning I came to know the recovering power of the blood of Christ… I know that in some small measure – the revival in Skye and later in Lewis, must be related to the experience of that morning. What was it that led me into this full realisation of glorious deliverance in the Holy Ghost? I answer in one word, a baptism from God. Explain it as you will, it was a baptism from God. That experience was in my case preceded by a spiritual hunger, a longing for God to do something.’ 

This was the Baptism of Fire that has prepared many leaders for revival. Holiness is always a vital part of revival as can be seen from the following account about members of the Barvas church. 

‘Before the revival began some people prayed in a barn for six weeks until a young man declared that the prayers were wasted unless they were right with God. “Then he lifted his two hands and prayed, ‘God, are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?’ But he got no further. That young man fell to his knees and then fell in a trance and is now lying on the floor of the barn. And in the words of the minister, at that moment, he and his other office bearers were gripped by the conviction that a God sent revival must always be related to Holiness, must ever be related to Godliness. Are my hands clean? Is my heart pure? 

This was just one example of what went on all over the area.

We now come to a very difficult part of the revival, the beginning. The start of the revival is a very well known story, mainly because a sermon of Duncan Campbell’s, setting out in detail the first night he was at Barvas, was recorded in 1968 and is all over the web.

This account tells of him going directly to the 7.00pm meeting, the meeting was good but not exceptional and it ended at 10:45pm when people left. A deacon then prayed for God to act and a blacksmith comes in to show them the outside of the church where 600 people are waiting. 100 of them came from a dance where suddenly the presence of God fell and they all knew they had to go to the church. The meeting started again and went on until 4:00am with many crying out to God and giving their lives to the Lord. He then walked a mile to the police station passing young people at the side of the road on their knees and then finding 400 people crying out to God.

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