From Scotland to Australia – The Revival Ride #7

A WEE PEEK – “… The hospitality and kindness of the Australians were simply wonderful. They drove me from place to place, in many cases long distances, and scorned accepting remuneration in any form for their kindness. In every household, I was treated as an honoured guest, and the best of everything provided for my wants…”

From Scotland to Australia

LATEST NEWS – Next Year, we’ll be filming the full journey of our northeast coast fishing villages as part of our Motorbike Vlog and video tours. But for now, the final in the revival ride series with a short visit to the coastal village of Boddam and then, off to Australia to see the later journeys of our James M’Kendrick!

From Scotland to Australia


Seen and Heard was a book given to me by my Grandmother and from the moment of reading, it impacted me in many ways. And, I think the belief that stands out the most, is that God will with anyone, regardless of their age, educational levels or abilities, accomplish great things at any point or place in history. These chapters have been just a few of the many thousands upon thousands of real visitations, from a very real God. For the accompanying videos, please visit our Youtube or Facebook page. Monday 6pm for the Vlog and Tuesday at 2pm for the Tour!

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A Visit to Boddam


I had persuaded my great friend and co-worker in Hamilton James McFarlane, to leave the mines, and give himself entirely to the work of the Gospel. His preaching proved very successful in Arbroath, Aberdeen and other parts of the North of Scotland. We then decided to labour together, and this we did with the happiest possible results. I would like here to record my testimony to Mr M’Farlane’s work and worth. Having lived and laboured with him for several years, I know him as no other man does, and I regard him as one of the finest men that ever preached the Gospel. Of his abilities, I need not speak. Wherever he has preached, a warm welcome awaits his return. Of his private life and character, I can bear witness. His personal piety and devotedness of heart to the Lord Jesus was at all times an inspiring example. His humility of mind and kindly disposition, with other fine traits of character, made him an ideal companion in Gospel work. I have never met his equal, and the memory of our years together will ever be precious to me.

We went to the fishing village of Boddam near Peterhead. The meetings were in the public hall on Sunday. I was to preach the first-night with McFarlane and others trying to keep order. It proved a most unruly congregation. Up till then, it was by far the worst I had ever seen. It is a custom in fishing villages for the women to come bareheaded to the evening service. They wear no jackets but have only a small shawl over their shoulders. The backs of the seats were sparred, and while I was preaching the young men were busy tying the women’s shawls together around the backs of the seats. The only way I could get attention was by stopping every now and again. They would look up as much as to say; “What is wrong?” I would then pray God to enable me to say something that would stick to them, and in this way, a few arrows went home that night.

When the women moved, it was to find themselves tied to each other, and all tied to the seats. I was glad when the service was over. McFarlane and I spent much time alone with God in earnest prayer believing that He was able to intervene. On the Wednesday following He saved the ring-leader, and he at once became an enthusiast for the salvation of the others. The hall became crowded, the interest and conviction deepened, and nightly more were added to the saved. They, in turn, spoke to others, till one night eleven young men were converted. This was perhaps the most memorable soul-saving time in the history of Boddam, and the work grew apace. We stayed over four weeks, and during that time nearly 100 people professed to be saved, and that bank of godless young men became wholehearted lovers of the Lord, and wherever they went to prosecute the fishing, they took an active part in Gospel work.

A few years ago while in Yarmouth during the fishing season, when many thousands of Scotch fisher folks were there at an open-air service, a fisherman from Boddam told the people it was nineteen years since he had seen me, and he proceeded to tell them of the mighty work of God during our visit. He spoke of the night when eleven young men were saved, and he added, “But some may say ‘Yes, nineteen years ago; but what are they now?’ I am glad to tell you,” said he, “they are today every one of them real godly men, and some of them able preachers of the Gospel.”

Bush and Back Block Preaching


During my sojourn in Victoria, I preached in over a hundred places, from New South Wales till near the South Australian borders and made three long tours up into Gippsland, as far as Orbost on the Snowy River. From what I have seen of the resources of Victoria, I would say without hesitation, that I regard it as a country of limitless possibilities. It has a climate in which every grain and fruit can be grown. What does not suit one part can be grown in another. Every kind of mineral, from gold to coal, is to be found there. It seems to me to be a working man’s paradise, and none need be either hungry or idle who are able and willing to work.

Any person with ability and energy may in a few years, with reasonable industry and thrift, find themselves in comfortable circumstances, if not affluence. We met with many who landed in the country without a pound, and are now worth from £10,000 to £100,000. Victoria’s present need is five million people, and as many more later on. No stranger need fear to come to the Colony, for there are no kinder-hearted people in the world than the Australians. I have nothing but good to say of them. Their kindness and liberality to me had often amounted to lavishness, but this is their character, as I have experienced from place to place.

My wife, who had gone to Australia five months before me, to escape the British winter and stay with her sister in Sydney, rejoined me in Melbourne ten days after my arrival. After my ten missions in Brunswick, we spent a short time at Ocean Grove, a pretty seaboard place, where we had some good meetings and two conversions. From there we went to Healsville, a place of unsurpassed beauty. The hills and glens are simply charming, and the tree ferns, with all their graceful beauty, flow in great luxuriance in the gulleys. Parrots of different kinds, with their lovely plumage, abound. It was in this district that we first saw the Australian blacks, and had the pleasure of preaching to a large congregation of them at Koranderrick Station. They sang well and understood English fairly well. My wife and I were delighted to have the pleasure of preaching to them.

We then went to Brunswick, and had three weeks meetings in a Baptist Church, in a charge of a real man of God, the Rev. D.J. Graham. He is a faithful and fearless man, a champion for God and the Bible. We then had a time of rich spiritual blessing in Portarlington, a pretty place on the shores of Port Philip, where we greatly enjoyed the Christian fellowship of the Rev J.Gillies, in whom is happily blended the rich graces of a devout Christian with the ripe scholarship of a highly cultured gentleman, a lovely combination rarely found in one person. I owe him much, for he has been to me, a true friend.

We then returned to Melbourne, to labour with one who bore the character of being a godly man. I am glad to say we found him to be what is even better, a man of God. The Rev W.R.Hiddlstone, to whom I refer, has consistently taken a bold and courageous stand against everything that is opposed to God and His Word, and God has greatly blessed him and his family. It is almost unique to find a family of nine, every member of which is true and decided to witness for God and actively interested in the spread of the word of His grace.

From this place we journeyed over 200 miles into the Malle Country, to work in conjunction with an old acquaintance whom I had not seen for many years. When I was newly converted we went to the same church in Hamilton, and his brother and two cousins were in my Sunday School class. It was a great joy to meet after all those years, and join hands in Gospel effort. I returned to this place the following year and spent four months in that district, going far back to the remote and needy parts, and with joy seeing the good hand of God in saving grace in every place.

The hospitality and kindness of the Victorians were simply wonderful. They drove me from place to place, in many cases long distances, and scorned accepting remuneration in any form for their kindness. In every household, I was treated as an honoured guest, and the best of everything provided for my wants. It will give the reader some idea of my itinerant life in Victoria when I say that I slept in no fewer than 288 beds in the course of three years and four months, and preached in 140 different places – cottages, schools, halls, and churches.

This is the only way to get the message of glad tidings to the dwellers in the far-out places. My Gospel wanderings in Victoria are amongst the happiest experiences of my life. In every place, some were saved, and the saved greatly helped and blessed. Many homes were brightened, and very many hearts were gladdened. We often saw two or three members of a family saved. In one family four sons were saved, in another, four daughters; and many of the converts became earnest, active Christians, doing all they could for the salvation of others

I hope to return to Victoria if the Lord will, and devote the remainder of my life to Gospel service in that State. Having been blessed with a strong constitution, I have been able to go on almost continuously, with but few short rests I have only had one break-down. While preaching in Lismore, I took seriously ill and had to be driven forty-two miles to the nearest hospital. My sufferings were acute, but doctors and nurses alike were kind to me, and I soon recovered. In about four weeks I was again fit for Gospel work. I do thank God for that illness, because of the many lessons He taught me in my hours of weakness and suffering. May every Christian learn the lesson and fully profit by every experience of His providence. He will teach us in the sunshine and the shade, for He has lessons to unfold, not only when we are upon the mountain top of prosperity, but in the valley of adversity. Oh, believer in Christ, learn to love and do His will.

My illness also provided a good opportunity of proving how many and real my friends were. Quite a host of invitations came to me, asking me to come to their homes when I got convalescent and the kindness of Messrs. John and James Griffiths at that time we will never forget. Their generous treatment had been continuous from the day of my arrival in Australia, but my breakdown seemed to give them and their devoted wives an occasion to express all the love in their hearts. The cost was to be no consideration. Whatever money could do for my recovery was to be done, and when convalescent they had arranged for me to go to a lovely seaside resort. But our good friends Mr and Mrs M’Gowan had forestalled all others and took us to their home in Birregurra, and under their kindly care, I rapidly regained my strength. Since then I have been able to labour continuously- to God be the glory for all Christian blessings, and for every creature comfort. Hallelujah!

We have briefly sketched a long career of almost ceaseless service for God in the Gospel. To have gone into full particulars of every place visited would have required many bulky volumes. We have only given samples here and there of what our eyes have seen and our ears heard of the sovereign, saving, life-giving grace of God. We have been always conscious of our many imperfections and shortcomings. We could never boast of possessing either special ability or piety, nor can we now. If men have been blessed through our instrumentality, the treasurer has been in an earthen vessel that the Excellency may be of God. I feel sure that God would use every one of us far more if we were earnest and anxious to be used, and if we were men and women of prayer and Bible study.

I trust my readers will not think it egotism if I speak of my practice in this respect. I have not kept a record of how often I have preached, but I feel sure I am within the mark when I say that I have preached on average 450 times a year for the last forty-six years. Yet I can truly say I have spent more time upon my knees alone before God than I have spent on the platform before men. I would, therefore, urge much prayer and close Bible study. Fine talk and eloquence in preaching are not always power, indeed, such gifts are oftentimes a hindrance and a snare, and prevent true dependence upon God. A prayer-less man must be a powerless man; a prayerful man is a powerful man. Therefore, seek to live a life of absolute dependence upon God, and absolute obedience to God and yours will be a life of fruitfulness for God. It is this that makes life worth living. Allow nothing and on one to stand between you and a wholehearted, true-hearted loyalty to Jesus Christ our Lord. He is worthy of the best and most we can either give or do.

Want of space compels me most reluctantly to omit any mention of many whose friendship and fellowship have been a great help and comfort to me in my wanderings. The Lord Himself will reward them for all their kindness. Time and space fail me to tell of Messrs. A. Armstrong, W.Scott, W.Yates, J.Davidson, Revs. R.L.Jaffrey, A.H.Moore, H.M.Burnes, A.Yule, with a host of others, who all have helped and befriended me in a more or less degree, and have laid me under a deep debt of gratitude and life-long obligation. I find great comfort in knowing that my gracious Lord and Master, who has promised the giver of even a cup of cold water to a disciple his reward, will not forget their work and labour of love on my behalf.

From Scotland to Australia
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About Steven Birnie

Steven Birnie is a former local Church Minister and the author of Christian publications which include non-fiction, fictional and teaching eBooks with audio sermons. From the north-east coast of Scotland, Pastor Steven is married to Sharon and together, they have two young children called Emily and David. After seven years of training, three years of overseeing youth and young adults and, three years of being the Assistant Pastor in his local Church, Pastor Steven moved on to focus on writing Christian Publications. In the future, he hopes to write The Tribulation Soldier, his newest Series of Fictional, Military EBooks on the End Times, the Rapture and the Tribulation Period, as a 2.5 Million Word Series. But despite continuing pastoral work and writing, Steven remains devoted to his children, enjoying his family life with caravan holidays in the Highlands, fishing, canoeing and his favourite pastime, riding his motorbike through the Scottish countryside.