Reports and News
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
In a book published by The Faith Mission in 1936, J. B. McLean writes of Pioneering Days in the Lothians. Here, as a little bonus to our blog readers, is an extract not printed in our magazine.
There were quiet missions with just a few professing, but some of these were interesting enough. One tiny village with no church had quite good meetings gathered from the villages around. Three church elders got blessing and made no small stir in their different sessions and churches. The station-master was markedly changed.
A bedridden man got out of bed and was helped to the school. He insisted on getting down on his knees, and God graciously gave him the assurance of salvation at once. He went back to bed, and there witnessed to all who visited him.
Another elderly man was busy digging in his garden when he heard the open-air march singing Oh, say, will you go to the Eden above? He dropped his spade and said: “Yes, I’ll go.” He found his way to the school and got soundly converted.
We are constantly hearing of fruit remaining from the smaller missions.
Faith Mission Prayer Unions are dotted all over the Lothians still; not all flourished, it is true, for many reasons, but there is much to rejoice over. Whole villages were brought under conviction of sin.
A policeman told the Pilgrims (as FM workers were called in those days – Ed.) that the publican in one place was bemoaning the fact that not one man was in his bar on Saturday night, and that before they got saved the men were there constantly. The mighty power of God was manifest in the case of wild, drinking, swearing men. In some cases the craving for drink was destroyed straight away when they got saved, in others there was a struggle with the appetite. The same could be said of smoking.
An extreme case might be mentioned to the glory of God. One night, during a mission, a man, helplessly drunk, was almost carried in between two Christians. They brought him to the penitent form and God saved him. He walked out of the hall sober and erect.From Faith Triumphant by J. B. McLean Published by the Faith Mission, Edinburgh 1936.
What are your children doing this summer?
Did you know that The Faith Mission run kids’ camps in the UK and Ireland. Our Canadian sister mission also runs camps and events for kids and youth. For a peek at what goes on, have a look at the video our worker, Tim Condy put together a couple of years ago. This year the fun will be just as good!
At the opening of Edinburgh Convention 2005, our General Director, JOHN TOWNEND, prayed for the convention, for the nation and for us all as individuals. As the meeting was recorded, we are able to print an extract here. This is so that all our readers may have the opportunity to join those of us who identified with John’s words that night, and that together, we may continue to pray for God’s blessing on The Faith Mission, our own lives and on our needy nation. – Ed.
Thank You, Father, that we don’t come before You because of who we are or what we’ve done, but because of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank You that He was willing to take in His own body our sin and nail it to that awful cross at Calvary. Thank You that ‘there is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus’. Lord, we are a privileged people. You did not discard us, but You loved us and have visited us with Your grace and mercy.
Father, we surrender this convention into Your hands. Thank You it is not the Faith Mission’s convention but it is Yours. It is convened because You have a work to do during these days. We pray that we would take our hands off and that You may come in Your fullness and in the freedom of Your Holy Spirit to minister to the needs that You want to touch during these days. But, Lord, most of all, come to glorify Your Name; to bring honour to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord, thank You that You are a great God. Nothing is impossible with You and as we think of the need in our nation, we thank You that You also see individuals here, who are crying out for You to minister to some particular need in their heart and life. Thank You Lord that You care for us as individuals as well as communities of Your people. Lord, meet with us and have Your way.■
The 2011 Edinburgh Convention is planned for Tuesday 28 June-Sunday 3 July 2011.
For further information contact
The Convention Secretary
548 Gilmerton Road
Edinburgh EH17 7JD
Tel: 0131 672 2149This article was published by The Faith Mission, Edinburgh, in FIRST! magazine November/December 2005