The Hebrides Revival of 1949-1952: Prayers that Birth Revival (Part 1):

Could God do something mighty in a small obscure village in the Scottish island chain known as the Hebrides? About 70 years ago, on an island named Lewis in a village called Barvas, God showed up, and His powerful presence rippled through the region to re-awaken a slumbering church. 

It was the 1940’s, and the influence of Christianity upon the people in Scotland had waned as their hearts turned cold to their Savior. The townsfolk described the period as a time of spiritual winter where genuine faith was dead. Legalism created practices that seemed good and Biblical, but it was all head knowledge and no real submission to God’s will. The majority of young people, seeing the hypocrisy, stayed far away from church. 

In November of 1949, two sisters, Peggy and Christine Smith, sensed that in the midst of this dark hour that God was calling them to pray for revival. Peggy was 84 years old and totally blind, while her younger sister Christine was 82 and hobbled by severe arthritis. They held onto the promise of God’s Word in Isaiah 44: “I will pour water on him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.” They embarked by faith on regular late-night prayer watches several times a week, usually praying from 10PM until 3 or 4AM in the morning, just two elderly women in their small sparse cottage crying out to God. 

A few weeks later, God showed them a detailed vision of their church surprisingly packed with young people and an unfamiliar minister speaking from the pulpit. Peggie and Christine asked for their pastor Rev. MacKay to visit them. They shared their vision and invited MacKay to gather leaders to pray together every Tuesday and Friday night for revival. They published a public appeal throughout the region for believers to ask for a spirit of repentance and for revival. The sisters prayed faithfully in their home, while Rev. MacKay and his group interceded in a local barn that winter.

In January of 1950, it was in that barn late at night that the Christians were on their knees and asking the Lord to pour out His Spirit to all who were thirsty. One young man, a deacon, read from Psalm 24: “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.” He closed his Bible, and spoke up in his Gaelic dialect, “It seems to me that this is all a waste of time to pray as we are praying, and to wait as we are waiting, if we are not in right relationship to God.” Then he broke down and prayed, “God, are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?” Immediately, around 3AM, a powerful sense of God’s presence filled the building and even the whole village. Everyone there in the barn was keenly aware of it. When they later departed from the meeting, they were surprised to see folks along the road in the early morning hour, some kneeling and weeping, many asking the Lord for His mercy. They also remembered seeing the unusual sight of candlelight in the windows of the village, for many families had awakened to pray. All the next day, the whole town seemed gripped in the presence of God with their thoughts fixed on the subject of eternity. Revival fire had ignited in the Hebrides.


Authored by Pastor Walton Yuen, Think Revival