A WEE PEEK – “…He sat down, and up sprang Jamie Bruce, and for ten minutes he poured out his heart in praise, prayer, and earnest appeal. When he finished John Smith (better known as “John Jeekie,” to distinguish him from other John Smiths) rose again and confessed Christ. His every word was in the power of the Holy Spirit, and we all felt as if in the very presence of God. The saved were cheered and filled with hope and the spirit of prayer, the unsaved were awakened, and the spirit of conviction was deep and general…”
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The Portessie Revival
THE REVIVAL RIDE #2
The ‘Seen and Heard’ eBook
Author: Rev. James M’Kendrick
Portessie is another of the large and prosperous fishing villages on the Moray Firth. It is situated between Buckie and Findochty, about two miles from either place. It was one of the places that shared greatly in the blessing which followed the labors of the godly James Turner, the cooper from Peterhead. Minor waves of blessing had reached it from time to time, and there had been drops of blessing from the great revival in Buckie and Findochty. But from the days of James Turner, it had never received the tidal wave of blessing that other fishing villages had experienced. Hopes from time to time had so often been disappointed, that the Christian people despaired of ever seeing the good hand of God amongst them again.
For about two years my mind had been turned towards Portessie, but whenever I mentioned my proposed visit to any of the Portessie fishermen, I got no encouragement but I was determined to try and select the best season of the year. I began on the last Sunday in November 1896. Unlike the other places, I found the hardness and indifference were great, the congregations small and altogether it was a most disheartening experience, and more than once I wished I had acted upon the advice of the fishermen, and gone elsewhere. Then again, I would think of the power of God to overcome all difficulties, of His love and willingness to bless and to save; and as I had prayed much about my visit.
I felt sure God had led me there, and that blessing must follow, so I gave myself anew to prayer and fasting, and spent hours upon my knees. I need not weary my readers by dwelling further on the discouragements which confronted me. It was now Monday of the third week, congregations had been gradually decreasing, Christians had grown hopeless, and ceased to attend. One unsaved man, named Jamie Bruce, however, had been coming regularly. His wife, a good Christian woman, had been pleading with God for his conversion. I had visited him previously, and I called again on Monday afternoon when I had the joy of seeing my first conversion in Portessie. He received the Lord Jesus as his Saviour calmly and quietly, but most sincerely, and before I left we knelt together to praise God for his unspeakable gift.
On my way home, I called in to tell my warmest friend, George Smith (better known as “DodLettin”) He it was who had prayed with J Sutherland at my opening meeting in Findochty three years before. He said, “My wife says she is not going to any more meetings. She thinks it is no use going on longer. You should have taken our advice, and not have come, and I don’t think I will go to any more meetings myself.” I replied, “What a pity you have thus decided, just when God has begun to work. He has saved a man this afternoon.” I can see in my mind now that dear, godly couple, as they jumped to their feet and unitedly cried, “Who has He saved?” When I told them, they cried out, “Praise the Lord! Jamie Bruce is saved; there will soon be others.”
There was a decided increase at the service that night and amongst them the new convert, who asked leave during the service to tell what God had done for him. He told his experience well, and with such simplicity and earnestness, that none could doubt his sincerity. It quickly spread throughout the village that Jamie Bruce was saved, and testifying in the hall, and many came the next night. I called attention to the doubting days of Thomas, and then to his noble confession of Christ, as one of the most beautiful in the Bible, when he said to Jesus “Thou art my Lord and my God.” Just as I repeated those words, a man in the middle of the hall jumped to his feet and cried out, “He is my Lord and my God too.” I stopped, someone shouted, “Praise God.” Again the man said, “Yes, friends, He’s my Lord and my God from this night and forever.”
He sat down, and up sprang Jamie Bruce, and for ten minutes he poured out his heart in praise, prayer, and earnest appeal. When he finished John Smith (better known as “John Jeekie,” to distinguish him from other John Smiths) rose again and confessed Christ. His every word was in the power of the Holy Spirit, and we all felt as if in the very presence of God. The saved were cheered and filled with hope and the spirit of prayer, the unsaved were awakened, and the spirit of conviction was deep and general. The all-absorbing topic that night was that Jamie Bruce and John Smith were saved and preaching the hall. The latter was a most respectable, upright man, a leading fisherman and a prominent man in all good works.
Many attempts had been made to lead him to the Saviour, but all without effect. The night of his conversion “Dod Lettin” rushed into the house of Alex Gairns, who had not been to the service and shouted, “Oh Alec, we’ve caught the Turbit of Polynargit tonight.” Polynargit was the name of a place on the fishing grounds a few miles out from Portessie, where a large turbit had often been hooked, but none had ever been able to get it aboard the boat. It had frequently been seen, but none could gaff it. It was so large that it had always broken the line and got off and they spoke of “John Jeekie” as the “Turbit of Polynargit” that none could catch.
Mr M’Farlane, who visited Portessie a few years later, was so impressed with this man’s worth and influence for good as a Christian, that he said to me, his conversion was worth a lifetime of Gospel effort. Needless to say, the hall was full the following night, and nightly and daily thereafter additions were made to the converts, till in a short time Portessie was in the throes of a great revival, similar to those we had seen at Findochty, Portnockie, and other places. I continued seven weeks, witnessing daily the wondrous saving power of God’s Holy Spirit.
The joy and the enthusiasm of the old Christians were boundless, as they again saw the good hand of God upon them, and giving abundant effect to their long unanswered prayers. To mention in detail what our eyes saw and our ears heard during those seven weeks would be in many cases only a repetition of what we have already written of our experiences elsewhere. Suffice it is to say that wanderers were reclaimed, backsliders restored, family quarrels were healed, children who had been the subjects of tears and prayers were saved, and from then till now Portessie has greatly prospered spiritually. The young men who were converted at that time became most earnest Christians and some of them able preachers of the Gospel. A hall was built, to be used only for the worship and service of God.
The lesson to be learned from the Portessie revival, by reader and writer alike, is never to despair. God is able to overcome all difficulties. If you are satisfied you are where God wants you to be, then rest assured God has work for you to do. Don’t look at the circumstances, neither favorable nor unfavorable, but look to God, with whom all things are possible. To His name be the glory of the riches of His grace to Portessie.