Revival Is Not Far From the Heart of Teens

May 30, 2007

I have been involved in two revivals first-hand. My initial experience was when I became a Christian during the so-called “Canadian Revival” of 1971 in Western Canada. It was a startling revival, filled with signs such as healing, prophecy and miracles, along with a deep sense of conviction of sin. The second revival I experienced as a pastor when my small congregation tripled in size due to the outpouring of the Spirit of God. In that revival, we saw miracles, marriages restored, hearts renewed and a general sense of worship and awe.

In both cases, it was the teenagers that reacted most fervently to it all. I learned later they were the ones praying hardest for God to pour out his Spirit.

I have many books on revival in my study. As I searched them the last week or so (mainly because my heart yearns for true revival in Sacramento) I read about so many revivals that were born by the midwifery of prayer through teenagers. One of those accounts is from Duncan Campbell, a man known for being at the center of two great Scottish revivals: Midargyl and the Hebrides Islands. But at one point between the two revivals, he personally fell away from the power of God and was not used by God very much at all. It is during that time, he recounts what changed his heart and readied him for the second revival. It was his teenage daughter:

Then one day…oh, how I thank God for that day…my young daughter came to me…thank God for her…a girlie of sixteen years of age—she came to me and said, “Daddy, I would like to see you in your study. I’ve been praying for you, Daddy. I want to speak to you.” And she took me to my study, and she threw herself on my knees, as daughters sometimes do. She put her arms around my neck, and I can still see the tears streaming from her eyes, as she said, “Daddy, when you were a pilgrim in the Faith Mission, after the 1st World War, you saw revival in Scotland. You saw revival! Daddy, how is it that God is not using you in revival today? Tell me, Daddy, when did you last lead a soul to Christ?”

Thank God for faithful daughters! And I tell you, dear people, that shook me. Oh, it shook me! I knew! I knew! Campbell, a convention speaker…Campbell, the evangelistic minister…in his study smashed and broken by a question from his daughter.

Listen, I was booked to address the Keswick Convention that year. I went to the convention. Oh, the deceit of the human heart. I went to the convention and I had my address. And I was so thankful when it was over. The words kept ringing in my ears, “When did you last lead a soul to Christ? When did you last lead a soul to Christ?”

Determined to Leave the Ministry

Then God in His own wonderful way moved Dr. Tom Fitch to depart from the address that he had prepared and give his own personal testimony. Dr. Fitch gave his personal testimony and I went home resolved that unless God would do something for me and give me back what I lost, that I certainly would resign from the ministry. I was absolutely decided on that!

So, in going home, I said to my wife and daughter, “I’m going to my study and I want you to leave me alone. I’m going to seek a meeting with God.”

And I went to my study. I shut the door. I put the rug down on the floor in front of the fire and I lay on the rug. I cannot take time to tell you all that God said to me in that hour. I’m thankful to say that He spoke to me the word of pardon, and the word of forgiveness, and the word of re-commission.

I cried, “God, won’t you give me again what you gave me on the battlefield?” And listen, friends, God did it!

My daughter came in at 2:00 in the morning. She lay down beside me and she said, “Daddy, whatever it costs, go through with God.” And I said, “Sheena, I’m going through whatever it may cost.”

Cost to Pride

And God knows what it cost me—to stand in my pulpit the following Sunday and make a public apology for pretending what I was not in the midst of my congregation. Five of my office bearers left me within a week. They wouldn’t have a fool in the pulpit.

Oh, that may happen. It sometimes happens, you see, in revival, that there’s a subtraction before addition.

Baptized with Love and Power

But listen, friends, as I lay there, God the Holy Ghost came upon me. Wave after wave came rolling over me until the love of God swept through me like a mighty river! So much so, that there were moments…now listen, my daughter beside me put her hand on my shoulders and she prayed, “Oh, God, keep his reason to Daddy.” I was never more sane in my life! But I was so wrought upon by the Holy Ghost that I cried and I laughed and I prayed.

If you know teenagers who love Jesus, will you have them read this with an open heart. God seems to choose young people to do his bidding because often us oldsters get used to religion that we have forgotten the radical nature of revival.



  1. Great entry! I plan to pass this one on to several teens I know…


  2. I wonder if there were any common characteristics within the culture, or the church in general, at the time of these revivals?

    Do you know when and where the last revival occurred in the United States? I don’t recall one in my lifetime.

    Having never experienced a community-wide revival I don’t have anything to compare it with. I have seen and experienced personal revivals, or maybe they were more like restorations. I guess there’s no predicting the Spirit of God when you get down to it. That’s what makes it interesting!

  3. Perhaps we long for revival in the church because were squeamish of confronting sin in each other? Many years ago I heard a pastor at a large church mount up to the podium and plainly confront a common sin in the church. He said (I’m paraphrasing here) many of you men are having affairs. You know who you are and I’m not going to name you here and now. But you need to repent and make it right with your wives.

    Bet that rattled the cages of the guilty! The pastor’s remarks left no doubt as to his intent: men, stop your secret sins or find some place else to worship. His comments were very uncomfortable but I knew in my heart he was absolutely right. I also knew that he knew things about the particulars we didn’t. That pastor’s actions took a lot of courage.

    Do you think revivals could be the result of God getting fed-up with the church not dealing with its own dirty laundry? Bu hey, when I go to church I don’t want to feel uncomfortable, I want to feel blessed. But is that what I need all the time throughout my church life?

    It’s even worse for Pastor’s. When they are in sins and addictions there’s few on the planet with the guts to confront it. Guess we better let God take care of that uncomfortable task.

  4. One aspect of revival for sure is conviction of sin. I have witnessed that in both revivals I was a part of. But it is not by any stretch of the imagination the most important part. Revival is simply many people being filled with the Power of the Holy Spirit at the same time. Power for witnessing, power to work miracles and healings in his name. This is what is often seen around the world with revival.

    As to revivals in North America, there have been three in the last twenty-five years. There was a huge outpouring of the Spirit on Hemmet and the Imperial Valley about a dozen years ago. Another outpouring on Florida about nine years ago and on Canada about 10 years ago. Also in the seventies, there was a revival that started on the campus of Asbury Seminary and another one on the prairies of Canada.

    So there have been revivals, but none since 1906 that has swept the whole world.

  5. Conviction of sin is the MOST important part of revival. I’ve watched the tape from Hemmet and the other cities several times and the conviction and repentance of sin and doing something about it is what drove those revivals.
    I believe that’s why the Brotherhoods are growing stronger in our church today. The men were convicted at the men’s retreat by the Holy Spirit and now we are seeing the fruits of that.

  6. I’m not convinced that confession of sin can be the most important thing. I believe it is one of the first steps in revival, and plays an intricate role in bringing revival. The cleansing of the spirit man makes way for the power of the Spirit of God to move inside the heart of a man to action.

    I believe the most important part of revival has to be something that can sustain such a movement. Confession can open the door, but it is the power of God flowing through His people, unencumbered by the chains of sin, that sustains a movement and fans it into revival.

    In Jesus’ ministry and in the work of the Apostles and the early church it began with confession and forgiveness, but it was the “go and do in God’s power” that brought true revival. Revival is about empowering the body of Christ to action and furthering the Kingdom of God. That is not defined by the confession of sin, but sustained by the power of Christ.

  7. I would agree with you aaron that the Holy Spirit is needed to sustain a revival. Maybe we’re not seeing revival’s because there are to many “feel good” confessions on Sunday but it’s back to the same old on Monday.

    I also know that without the initial confession of sin we continue to just sit in our pews and when God knows that, well, He leaves us sitting in our pews.

    Maybe thats why theres been only three revivals in the last 25 years and not a worldwide one for 100 years. 100 years!

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