On the Hebrides Revival, Leonard Ravenhill said: “The children had to memorize the Shorter Catechism [The Westminster Shorter Catechism]…Did you know Isaac Watts had a catechism for children under seven years of age!? [Dr. Watts’s Plain and Easy Catechisms]…And you couldn’t move up in a class in Sunday School until you memorized it. Then you had another catechism for children from seven to fourteen years of age. Then you had another catechism for people fourteen and up! What does the Good Book say? “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Ps. 119:11). And so, I said, “Brother, you’ve given me THE SECRET OF REVIVAL.” The seed had been in the hearts of those children for ten and fifteen years. Then the Holy Ghost comes and sends somebody along [evangelist; revivalist]; and that seed begins to germinate!” (“Powerful Staggering Interview with Leonard Ravenhill,” Revival Forum 89, 37:50-38:47).
The following is an extract from Mary Peckham’s “The Lewis Revival” (1950).
The Seed-Planting Stage
In school we would start out each day with the Lord’s prayer, and then went on to Bible stories and the Presbyterian Shorter Catechism. On most days, we would come home from school with a verse from the Psalms to learn.
So you can see that our people were well-versed in the Scriptures. We knew the Ten Commandments by heart. We also knew Isaiah 53 and 55, the Beatitudes, I Corinthians 13, and many others. Even though an unconverted people, we were not strangers to the Word of God. When the Spirit of God fell on our island, there was fuel there to burn.
There were also those among the people of God there who were dissatisfied, and who were craving and longing for a moving of God on the island. The people of God were hungry.
I was on the mainland of Scotland when revival broke out on the Island of Lewis. At that time, I wasn’t particularly interested in church. I only went once to Sunday School in Scotland, and the elder prayed too long for my liking, so I didn’t go back again. When I learned of the revival on my island, my immediate reaction was, ‘I am not going back to Lewis until this revival is over. They were religious enough already, and I don’t want to be involved.’ I had my own life and my own ambition–singing at Gaelic concerts. My world was full of pleasure, and it didn’t include God or the church. I knew 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. If God wanted to come at some time or another into my life and save me, that was His business. But as far as I was concerned I had no desire for the things of God.
A phone call changed all that. I was informed that my parents were ill and that I must return immediately to Lewis. So I went out of concern for them.
Revival Meeting Stage (Spiritual Plants Starting to Sprout)
They were soon better and began going to church. It seemed that the whole conversation of the village revolved around what was happening in these revival meetings. I hated it. I didn’t want anything to do with it. I felt inwardly disturbed when talk turned to the meetings, and to the conversions of people who had been drunkards, and who were now joining in the prayer meetings. I resisted and I resented because I was afraid.
So there I was, afraid that God would come to my life, that He would speak to me. I didn’t want to have anything to do with the things of God. I hoped that maybe at the end of life I might be saved, but not now. I had too much going on.
My parents found me out, and one evening they told me they weren’t going to the meeting unless I would go too. So I went – in a rage.
The church was crowded, and the atmosphere was indescribable. One sensed as one came in the drive toward the church that a silence was falling upon people. And as they went into the church, they moved slowly to their pews, and they sat. Before the service had begun, the tears were flowing. For a person who is unconverted to be in such a situation was not a very comfortable thing!
But as I listened to the singing of the Psalms–that was all they sang–the people sang the Word of God as if their hearts would burst. Such singing sent shivers down my spine. I felt I was being, as it were, hounded into a corner. When the preacher got up-the late Duncan Campbell-I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this man was in earnest. He didn’t preach a soft gospel. Hell was made real to us, and sin was made a reality. Our condition out of Christ was such a thought to make us fear. And we did fear.
I looked at one girl in particular, and I saw something that I desired more than anything in my life. I felt, ‘You’ve got something that I haven’t got and I can never be at rest until I find it’. I saw the beauty of the Lord in the face of that young girl. Three o’clock that morning, I was on my knees by the old stove in the kitchen praying, ‘Oh God, (and I meant it) be merciful to me, the sinner’, as if there were no other sinner in the world. the sinner. I didn’t feel that anything happened. I went up to my bed and wept myself to sleep. I was lost, lost, lost. I didn’t know how to get saved, and I didn’t feel that God was under any obligation to save me. I had left Him out of my life all my days. How could I now ask God to give me a ticket to heaven, to save my soul?
For three months I struggled. I saw some wonderful sights. I heard some wonderful prayers. I met some wonderful people, the people of God. Still I had no assurance of salvation. I believed that anybody and everybody could get saved, but there was some kind of something in me whereby I couldn’t get the assurance of salvation. But one night, at the end of my tether, on the 24th of August, 1950, I was sitting as usual in the prayer meeting, and the men were praying one after the other, and the minister got up to close in prayer. I prayed in my heart, ‘O God, I love Your people, I can’t explain it, but I love Your people, and I want to be in their company. And, Lord, I want to stay in their company for the rest of my life, and then send me to Hell, for that’s what I deserve.’
The conviction of sin in a season of revival is too terrible for words. Here I was, brought up in a society that was moral and religious, and yet I felt such a sinner in the sight of God that I couldn’t see how He could save me. But that night, after the minister closed in a prayer, he quoted a verse, Isaiah 53:5. Suddenly it seemed as if I were transported from that prayer meeting to that place called Calvary, and I was there alone:
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.
And I felt healed. Nobody needed to tell me. The Spirit of God through His Word witnessed with my spirit that, miracle of miracles, I was a child of God!