Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: As a teenager, Mary Peckham witnessed a great revival. But at first, she wasn’t interested in participating.

Mary Peckham: Oh, I knew that there were people converted. I knew they were children of God, and I believed that they were children of God. And I believed, furthermore, that I was going to Hell and that there were so many people going to Hell with me that it didn’t concern me too much.

Leslie: It’s Tuesday, March 27th, and you’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

When you’re in God’s presence, it’s a place of great peace, right? Well, it depends. If you’re not right with God, a sense of His presence is terrifying. We’ll hear today about a teenager who has experienced both the fear and the peace of knowing God was present. Here’s Nancy to tell us why this woman’s testimony is so meaningful.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Someone has said that revival is a movement of God’s Spirit that brings extraordinary results. One such movement that did bring about extraordinary results in the hearts of many people took place in the early 1950s on the Isle of Lewis, just off the coast of Scotland.

This week, we’re going to have the privilege of hearing the testimony of a woman who was converted as a teenager during that revival. Her name is Mary Peckham, and as I listened to this testimony for the first time a few years ago, I was struck by how her story illustrates some of the marks of genuine revival.

Mary and her husband Colin served for many years with the Faith Mission Bible College in Edinburgh, Scotland. Now they are involved in full-time itinerant ministry, sharing with God’s people throughout Europe and in the United States and in other parts of the world the message of revival.

And what we’ll hear today, Mary tells us a little bit about her background and where God found her when that revival first began.

Mary: As has been said, I was born and brought up in the Hebrides Islands. I hope you’ve got your geography right and that you know exactly where that is. You know where Great Britain is, and if you take the most northwesterly point of Scotland, it’s called Capebroth, and forty miles into the sea west of that is a string of islands, and the top most island is called the Island of Lewis. Two miles from the lighthouse at the very top of the Island of Lewis, I was born and brought up in a fishing village.

I want to give you a little bit of background in as far as the church is concerned there. It was the normal thing in every home in the village, as far as I know, to have family worship. That doesn’t mean that all the people in the village were Christians, but they had promised in the church to bring up their children in the nurture and fear and admonition of the Lord, and they felt that this was part and portion of the fulfillment of that promise that they had made in public.

So my unconverted parents and other unconverted parents in the village felt it was right to read the Word of God to their family and to pray. The prayer was always the same amongst the unconverted. They probably had learned it from their parents and so on. I wasn’t at all attentive to what was happening. It was just part of life.

Then in the curriculum of the day school, we started the day with the Lord’s Prayer, and then we went on to Bible stories. Then the hymn book of the church was the Psalms, the metrical version of the Psalms, as we sing them in Scotland. So we had to learn them in school, and most days we came home from primary school, we came home to learn another verse of the Psalms.

So you can see, we were well-versed in the Scripture. We knew the Ten Commandments. We could recite them off by heart. We knew Isaiah 53 in two languages. We could recite them off by heart, and the Beatitudes and Corinthians 13 and so on. So you could find unconverted people who could quote the Scripture.

Now, the reason I’m telling you that is because when the Spirit of God fell upon the Island, there was fuel there to burn. The people knew the Word of God. They weren’t strangers to it.

Something else that would be of interest to you is the fact that there were those among the people of God who were still dissatisfied, and they were craving and longing for a movement of the Spirit of God in the Islands. Before that time, it was about every 10 years there was an outpouring of the Spirit of God. In 1939, there was an outpouring of the Spirit of God greater than in 1949, and so there were people who had lived through not only one revival, but two revivals.

It’s a healthy sign when a child or an adult is hungry, and the people of God were hungry. I was on the mainland of Scotland when the revival broke out, and I wasn’t particularly interested in church. I only went once to Sunday school, and the elder prayed too long a prayer for me, and I didn’t go back again.

But, I was in the mainland when the revival broke out, and my immediate reaction was, “I’m not going back to Lewis until this revival is over. They were religious enough already, and I don’t want to become involved. I have my own life, my own ambitions.”

My world was full of pleasure, and it didn’t include the church. I saw nothing in it. Oh, I knew that there were people converted. I knew they were children of God, and I believed that they were children of God. I believed, furthermore, that I was going to Hell and that there were so many people going to Hell with me that it didn’t concern me too much.

That was my attitude. Okay, if God would come at some time or other in my life and save me, well, that was His business. But as far as I was concerned, I had no desire for the things of God. A phone call changed all that. A phone call to say that my parents were ill, and I must come immediately to Lewis.

I came, concerned about them. They were soon better, and they were soon going to church with the others. It seemed that the whole conversation of the village revolved around what was happening in these meetings, and I hated it. I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. I felt inwardly disturbed when they started to talk about meetings and started to talk about conversions and people who had been drunkards were now praying in the prayer meeting.

I resisted, and I resented, because basically I was afraid. The Bible says the sinners in Zion are afraid. Fearfulness encompasseth the hypocrite (see Isaiah 33:14). So, there I was afraid of the supernatural, afraid that God would come to my life—that God would speak to me, because that was an area that was foreign to me. I didn’t want to have anything to do with the things of God. I hoped that maybe at the end of life, I might be saved, but not now. I have too much going on.

My parents were strict, and one night, they found me out, and they said they weren’t going to the meeting unless I would go, too. I went in a rage. Now, I want to give you a little insight into what was happening. The church was crowded. The atmosphere was indescribable.

One sensed as one came in the drive towards the church a silence already falling upon the people, and as they went into the church itself, they moved slowly into their pews and they sat. Sometimes before the service began at all, the tears were flowing, and for a person who was unconverted to be in such a situation was not a very comfortable thing.

But as I listened to the singing of the Psalms, they were singing the Word of God, and they were singing as if their hearts would burst, and the singing sent shivers down my spine. I thought I was being, as it were, hounded into a corner. When the preacher got up, the late Duncan Campbell, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this man was in earnest.

He stormed up and down, sometimes down the pulpit steps. The perspiration rolled down his face, and he didn’t preach a soft Gospel. “Though the wicked join hand and hand they shall not go unpunished” (Proverbs 11:21). “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17).

Hell was made real to us, and sin was made a reality, and our condition out of Christ was such as ought to make us fear, and we did fear. I went home that evening in a daze after that meeting. As I entered the door, my father said, “Well, Mary, how did you enjoy that?” I said, “I didn’t enjoy it at all.”

Now, that was true. I didn’t enjoy it. You know there’s a word that says, and you know it well: “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). And I was lost. And the Son of God was seeking me, although I didn’t know it.

I went again and again and again. It seemed in a way that I was going against my will, but my feet were taking me there, even though it meant a walk of two and half miles, sometimes in wintry weather. But we walked, and we went, and everywhere around us—you didn’t need to go to church to sense what was going on.

When the Spirit of God is outpoured, God was everywhere. I listened at the door of my father’s bedroom, and I could hear that hardened sailor crying out aloud the prayer of the publican, “Oh, God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13).

One night in the meeting, I kept my eye on my mother, and I thought, “Well, if this conversion doesn’t come to our home, it won’t be so bad. I can put up with it in the lives of others, but there’s something that I can’t resist.” But this night, as I looked at my mother I saw her taking out her handkerchief and the tears coursed down her cheeks, and I thought, “Oh my. What are we going to say to mother tonight?”

Our house was very quiet that night. We moved around as if we were moving in a dream. Nobody wanted to talk. You know, sometimes that awareness of the presence of God comes to us in church. It was in our homes. It was there. It was in the neighborhood.

I walked the streets, and it seemed as if a record was going around in my mind, walking the village streets, “Oh everyone that thirsteth, cometh ye to the waters and he that has no money, come ye buy and eat. Yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do you spend money for that which is not bread and you labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear and come unto me here and your soul shall live” (Isaiah 55:1–3), and so it would go on to the end of the chapter.

“Then, who hath believed our report and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? They shall grow before Him as a tender plant and as the root of a dry ground hath no form or comeliness, we when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire, and He is despised and rejected of man, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and we hid as it were our faces. He was despised and we esteemed Him not” (Isaiah 53:1–3). And so it went on and on to the end of the chapter.

And where was I? An ungodly young girl who had no interest in church. I was in my teens, and I’m walking the street, and the Word of God is pounding through my consciousness. Then it came again. I remember the Word of God came onto me, walking along a dust road from another village: “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place for on thou standest is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5)

And instinctively, I stepped off the road onto the verge, and I felt I shouldn’t be there either. It was a case of where every prospect raises and only man is vile. When I went with dad in the boat, I looked down into the depths of the sea, watching the fish as they swum, and all I could think of was God made them. God did it. This is God’s creation. God is everywhere.

I wish I could transport you back in time to these services to sense that solemnity of eternity. You know what’s wrong with us today in our services? There’s no awareness of eternity—no awareness of eternity. May I say, sometimes there is no relationship in our Christianity to eternity.

It’s all in time, and it’s all what would benefit me, and it’s all to do with me and with other people, but it’s divorced from eternity. It seemed as if at that time, eternity was solely in the prayers of the people of God.

Can you imagine an elder standing up to pray, his hands uplifted to God and praying for the young people of the community, the tears coursing down his cheeks. And I’m sitting as a teenager, holding on to my seat with the fear of God in my heart, seeing myself as he described us on the slippery parts of darkness, slipping down, slipping down, slipping down to an endless Hell.

It’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. In the midst of revival, one is so concerned about oneself that one doesn’t observe much of what’s happening in other people’s lives. But one night I observed it, and I saw what it meant to be saved, and I saw what happened when Christ saved a life.

For the first time, I went to one of the cottage meetings that happened after the services in the church were over, and these cottage meetings went on into the night. I’d come home at six o’clock in the morning from these cottage meetings. People didn’t want to part one from the other, and the presence of God was so wonderful, but so fearful to others and so fearful to me.

This particular night, they made some kind of appeal for those who were exorcised about their souls, that they should come to a room was cleared for purpose, and the preacher would pray with them. I thought, “It’s another meeting, and I want to go to meetings now.” Do you see the drawing power of the Spirit of God? “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). I went into the meeting, and I was horrified when I saw that it was just those who were anxious about their souls.

Two of my childhood friends were there, two of the girls from the village, and they sat and wept their hearts out. I didn’t feel quite like that yet, and Duncan Campbell asked the one, “Are you really in earnest about seeking Christ as your Savior?” And I thought, “Wow, he’s going to ask me that. What shall I say? I can’t say to the good man, ‘No.’”

Then he asked is that why am I here? And I said, “Yes.” But oh, I felt so convicted. I felt like such a hypocrite. God knew my heart, and God knew that in my ignorance, I did desire something. I didn’t know what.

I was now being drawn irresistibly to the things of God. But I had no assurance of salvation. Not for myself. I believed that anybody and anybody else could get saved, but there was some kind of something in me whereby I couldn’t get the assurance of salvation.

One night, on the 24th of August, 1950, I was sitting as usual in the prayer meeting, and the men were praying one after the other, and the minister got up to close in prayer. I prayed in my heart. Do you know what I said? I said, “Oh God, I love Your people. I can’t explain it, but I love Your people, and I want to be in them, in their company. And Lord, I want to stay in their company for the rest of my life, and then send me to Hell, for that’s what I deserve.”

You know, the conviction of sin in a season of revival is too terrible for words. Here was I, brought up in a society that was modern, religious, and any immorality would have been frowned upon. And yet I felt like such a sinner in the sight of God that I couldn’t see how He could save me.

Nancy: That’s Mary Peckham, and tomorrow, we’ll learn how she came to the place where she experienced assurance of her salvation. As I listen to Mary’s testimony, my own heart is so quickened as she talks about those very sacred moments when the Word of God was pounding in her consciousness.

It’s interesting to me that although at this point in her life, she was a hard-hearted rebellious teenage women, yet when the Spirit of God began to move in revival, there was some kindling for the flame of God’s Spirit because the Word of God was in Mary Peckham’s mind. She couldn’t escape it, and where had it come from? It came during her childhood years as she had been trained in her home and in her church, trained in the Word and in the ways of God.

And though she wandered far from those childhood roots during her teenage years, God used those very Scriptures to bring her to a place of repentance and faith. If you’re a mom who has young children, I hope this story is an encouragement to you about the importance of what you’re doing in training those children in the Word and in the ways of God.

It may not be evident to you right now what kinds of rewards and benefits are being reaped from day in and day out teaching your children the Word of God, but you are planting seeds in their lives that God is going to use. Those seeds will take root and one day, through prayer and faith and the grace of God, you can believe that those seeds will bring forth fruit in the lives of your little ones.

Perhaps you’re the mother of an older son or daughter, and you say, “My son or daughter is far from God. They’re a prodigal child. Is there any hope?” Well, as you’ve listened to Mary’s story, I trust that you can see that there is hope.

I would just encourage you: don’t stop praying. Don’t stop crying out to God to take those seeds that were planted in the life of your son or daughter when they were younger. Even if you didn’t know at the time to plant the seeds of the Word in their life, trust that God is able even now to bring His Word into their life, that Word that will produce fruit unto repentance and righteousness.

Leslie: Don’t ever stop teaching Scripture to your children. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been reminding us about the power of God’s Word. Tomorrow, we’ll see specifically how the Bible impacted the life of Mary Peckham.

You know, I really don’t like cutting into the middle a story like we’ve done, but I have great news. You can get a copy of Mary’s talk at no cost. It’s her uninterrupted speech, which is longer than we were able to bring you on the radio.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss and the staff at Revive Our Hearts believe so strongly in the importance of revival that we want to give you a CD of this story so your passion for revival will grow. When you ask for your CD from Mary Peckham, you’ll also receive a booklet from Nancy called “Preparing for Revival.” It will help you evaluate your heart and respond quickly to whatever God is doing.

The CD and booklet are a gift to you. Just ask for the CD called, “When God Comes Down,” and the booklet, “Preparing for Revival.” Call 1-800-569-5959 to ask for these helpful resources at no cost to you. You can also order the free CD and booklet at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now, imagine that you missed today’s radio program for some reason. You wouldn’t have found out about the free CD and booklet unless you were signed up for the Revive Our Hearts Daily Connection. It’s an email that brings you key quotes from Nancy’s messages every day.

When you’re intrigued by a topic, you can use the quick links to hear the audio online, or read the transcript or download the podcast. The Daily Connection will keep you informed about the special offers you heard about today. So the Daily Connection keeps you informed about life changing content and great deals. Signing up is easy when you visit ReviveOurHearts.com. 

I hope you can be back tomorrow, when we will again transport you to the Isle of Lewis in the 1950s. Please join us for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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