First-Hand Impressions of the North-East Scottish Revival, 1921
By D. P. Thomson
Accompanied by a fellow-Student, I travelled north on Monday morning. Not until Fraserburgh itself was reached did we see any signs of the revival. But there, as we were coming up from the station into the town, the strains of gospel singing were wafted to us on the evening air; and at the Cross we found a company of about 200 men gathered, listening to the simple, earnest, unaffected testimonies of the converts—young fishermen in their picturesque blue jerseys.
Not far from the open-air meeting we espied the Congregational church, into which crowds were already pouring, although it was fully an hour till the meeting was due to begin.
Pressing in with the eager throng, we found the building already uncomfortably crowded. In the little vestry close by we encountered one of the revival leaders—Jock Troup, the Wick cooper.
He is a man short in stature, thick-set, and dark, and his frankness at once disarms criticism. Five minutes in his company is enough to reveal the secret of his power. Here is a man of no intellectual attainments and little evangelistic experience, but a man consumed with a living passion for souls, an intense love for humanity, and an overwhelming sense of his own impotence apart from divine power. The depth and intensity of his own spiritual experience, the transparent sincerity of his life, and the consuming fire of his zeal, are combined with a touching humility and a desire to be nothing that Christ may be everything.
Notorious characters transformed
And he certainly has been marvellously used in this town. God has laid hold of him, and through his instrumentality many have been brought into the Kingdom. The testimony of the candid onlooker among the [locals] is that not a few notorious characters have been transformed, and the number of careless and godless young men now brought out on Christ’s side is remarkable. The enthusiasm in the meeting is great; but of undue excitement, or ultra-emotionalism, we have seen nothing. Few more significant or touching sights can be imagined than that of a company of a hundred and fifty, nearly all men—and the vast majority young men—gathered for a two-hours prayer meeting on a week-day afternoon, and yet that is a daily occurrence in Fraserburgh. The quiet reverence, the simplicity, earnestness, and sincerity of the prayers, and the homely way in which the needs and thanksgivings of the human heart find expression in these meetings is very touching.
Let us join in a mighty stream of intercession that this movement of the Spirit of God may make itself felt all over our beloved land, bringing joy and peace into individual hearts, healing estrangements and sweetening and purifying home life and the whole life of the nation.
United to evangelize
During this week the Parish Church has been open nightly for united evangelistic meetings, running concurrently with those in the Congregational Church, and I have had the privilege of addressing three of these. Although the numbers attending have not exceeded 400, we have been very conscious of the Lord’s presence and power. So far, the classes outside the fishing community have not been deeply stirred, although signs of quickening are not wanting in all the churches. The elders of the four Presbyterian churches are anxious to see the movement spread, and the spirit of expectancy is growing.
We have not been able to get beyond the neighbourhood of Fraserburgh so far, but signs are not wanting that right along the coast the tide of blessing is beginning to spread. Moving in and out among the fisher-folk, one becomes conscious of the intellectual strength of these men. As a class they are far from shallow or emotional, and only a real movement of the Spirit of God could have created the impression and wrought the change that has taken place. Everywhere one goes there are evidences of happier homes and brighter faces, and of a new interest in the things of the Spirit and a desire to explore the possibilities of the Christian life. It is good to know that the churches generally are alive to the situation, and are anxious to conserve the results and carry on the work.
Much remains to be done. Many here in Fraserburgh are still critical, and often even hostile. It is the evidence of changed lives, growing from day to day, that will convince many whose attitude is not yet clearly defined. News from the South seems to show that the movement is spreading. Let us join in a mighty stream of intercession that this movement of the Spirit of God may make itself felt all over our beloved land, bringing joy and peace into individual hearts, healing estrangements and sweetening and purifying home life and the whole life of the nation. If Scotlandis thus moved, all the ends of the earth will feel the impact of the blessing.
D. P. Thomson later became a prominent evangelist with the Church of Scotland.
From Bright Words 1922