Portessie (1896)

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 selecting 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….         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 Brace, however, had been coming regularly...   I called again on Monday afternoon, when I had the joy, of seeing my first conversion in Portessie…       

On my way home, I called in to tell my warmest friend, George Smith (better known as "Dod Latin"). 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." 

 “It quickly spread throughout the village that Jamie Bruce was saved, and testifying in the hall, and many came next night in the hope of hearing him… 

“…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.

“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, Portknockie, 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. (Assembly Hall in Ogilvie Street)

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 a work for you to do. Don't look at the circumstances, neither favourable nor unfavourable, but look to God, with whom all things are possible. To His name be the glory for the riches of His grace to Portessie.”       

James McKendrick – Pioneer series – Gospel Tract Publications, pages 174-8

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