who was converted during the Hebrides revival.
(We worked in the same Edinburgh-based mission organisation in the 60s)
I was born and brought up in the Hebrides Islands. If you take the most north-westerly point of Scotland, it is called Cape Wrath. Forty miles into the sea west of that is a string of islands. The topmost island is called the Island of Lewis. Two miles from the lighthouse at the very top of the Island of Lewis, I was born and brought up in a fishing village.
I want to give you a little bit of background insofar as the church was concerned there. It was the normal thing in every home in the village, as far as I know, to have family worship. That doesn’t mean that all the people in the village were Christians, but they had promised (in the church) to bring up their children in the nurture and fear and admonition of the Lord. They felt that this was part and parcel of the fulfilment of that promise that they had made in public.
So my unconverted parents and other unconverted parents in the village felt it was right to read the Word of God to their families and to pray. The prayer was always the same amongst the unconverted. They probably had learned it from their parents and so on. I wasn’t at all attentive to what was happening; it was just part of life.
In the curriculum of the day school, we started the day with the Lord’s Prayer. Then we went on to Bible stories and then the hymnbook of the church was the Psalms–the metrical version of the Psalms as we sing them in Scotland. So we had to learn them in school. Most days we came home from primary school to learn another verse of a Psalm. So you can see that we were well-versed in the Scriptures. We knew the Ten Commandments. We could recite them by heart. We knew Isaiah 53 in two languages. We could recite them off by heart. And the Beatitudes and I Corinthians 13, and so on. So you could find unconverted people who could quote the Scriptures.
The reason I’m telling you that is because when the Spirit of God fell upon the island, there was fuel there to burn. The people knew the Word of God. They weren’t strangers to it.
Something else that will be of interest to you is the fact that there were those among the people of God who were still dissatisfied, and who were craving and longing for a movement of the Spirit of God in the islands. Before that time, it was about every ten years that there was an outpouring of the Spirit of God.
In 1939, there was an outpouring of the Spirit of God greater than in 1949. So there were people who had lived through not only one revival, but two revivals. It’s a healthy sign when a child or an adult is hungry, and the people of God were hungry.
I was on the mainland of Scotland when the revival broke out. I wasn’t particularly interested in church. I only went once to Sunday school, and the elder prayed too long a prayer for me. I didn’t go back again. But I was on the mainland when revival broke out. My immediate reaction was, “I’m not going back to Lewis until this revival is over. We were religious enough already, and I don’t want to become involved. I have my own life. I have my own ambitions.”
My world was full of pleasure, and it didn’t include the church. I saw nothing in it. Oh, I knew there were people who were converted. I knew there were children of God, and I believed that they were children of God. I believed, furthermore, that I was going to hell. But there were so many people going to hell with me that it didn’t concern me too much. That was my attitude. Okay, if God would come at some time or other in my life and save me, well, that was His business. But as far as I was concerned, I had no desire for the things of God.