A Mixed Up Minister?
What insights does the book of Jonah have for ministers today?
Led by The Revd Tom Stuckey, a former President of the Methodist Church.
Sounds from Heaven
There are some books that grip the reader so much so that they cannot put it down and keep going to the last page. This book most certainly gripped me but reading had to stop at frequent intervals in order to face the challenge of what had been read. I have read many books on revival, by historians, theologians and others, but never one like this.
Over 50% is taken up with twenty-four personal testimonies of those who experienced the revival for themselves. There is a little bit about Duncan Campbell himself and a great deal of space given to his reports sent to the Faith Mission in Edinburgh, and two sections by local ministers. Colin and Mary Peckham (Morrison) bring all this together having visited the Isle and recorded the comments of the people. Mary, who was converted in the revival and was used in it, then translated it from the Gaelic.
The geographical and spiritual background to the Isle sets the scene at the beginning of the book and four chapters deal with the assessment of the revival.
What is it that sums it all up for those seeking to learn from the experiences of fifty-odd years ago, from men and women whose lives were profoundly affected by what happened in those days? It was not just the ministry of Duncan Campbell, as others were much involved alongside him and in his absence. It was not a matter of a particular church, as God demonstrated that a building or denomination did not confine him. Some of the testimonies report the same incidents but through different eyes, but in all of them two factors stand starkly evident. The same evidence is in the reports and other chapters.
Time and time again the consistent testimony is of men and women who prayed anywhere, at any time, and kept at it. “Why have these places been so favoured? Why has the Lord been pleased to shower his blessings and reveal his presence in these remote parts? Why? Because they prayed! They prayed expectantly; they prayed persistently; they prayed wholeheartedly; they prayed believingly. They learned to pray as they prayed. The Holy Spirit has taught them in their praying. They have come to learn the secret of pressing through into the courtroom of heaven and of touching the throne. They have waited upon God!” As Margaret MacLeod so strikingly said of the Christians in the Barvas area, “It was a community at prayer”.
The central chapter sets out the reality of what lay behind the revival, what is termed ‘soul travail’. “Many of us pray just enough to ease the conscience but not enough to win any decided victory. We are playing at praying. We have put very little into it and therefore have received very little from it. Prayer has not been a mighty force. There is such a thing as the burden of intercession. There is a cross at the heart of true intercessory prayer; a burden; a passion; an agony” (No wonder I stopped reading!).
“Without exception everyone to whom we spoke mentioned this (the consciousness of the presence of the Lord) as the outstanding feature of the movement.” One witness said “There was a universal consciousness of the presence of God – a sense of the Lord’s presence everywhere; on the streets, in the shops, in the school – by no means confined to revival gatherings – wherever people met, even in the public houses – a universal consciousness of the presence of God.” Or – “We could not get away from the working of the Holy Spirit. God accompanied you everywhere.”
The praying of the people and the felt presence of the Lord: such were the critical elements of what happened in the lifetime of many who are still with us today. If anyone is at all serious about the need for revival in our land and prepared to be sternly challenged, then buy this book and pore over it. May you be gripped and join the cry, “O that You would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence” (Isaiah 64:1).